One week

It has been exactly a week since I returned to my beloved Winchester, after waltzing around Europe for the best part of July. At first, my once familiar world seemed blurred and distant. But, given time and ample amounts of sleep, my domestic side has flourished once more.

I managed to complete all of my unpacking and holiday laundry within 24 hours of returning home. No mean feat, as I had accumulated a fair amount of washing on our adventure. We used washing machines abroad, of course, but everything needed to be refreshed after being stuffed into a rucksack. Then comes the task of finding new homes for the souvenirs you’ve collected on the journey. My new postcards are decorating my postcard wall, and I smile every time they catch my eye.

At the beginning of the week, I batch cooked a large vegetable chilli that kept me going for days. It was brilliant to come home to a bowl of warm goodness, even though I was kept busy with extra hours at work. No room for complaint about that, I know how lucky I am to be working at all.

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I also met up with a close friend near the start of the week for lunch. We discussed plans for the future. Who knows where this Storyteller might end up? But I do have my final year of University to get through first . . .

I caught up with my blog reading, including this poignant post from A Girl Called Jack. Like Jack, I aim to spend around £10 a week on my groceries. But I don’t have a young child to look after. Jack is a real inspiration to me and showed me that despite having little myself, I can still share what I have. I put at least one tin into my local food bank. They have a collection trolley inside my local Sainsbury’s, so it couldn’t be easier to donate. I’m so pleased Jack is starting to get the recognition she deserves.

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Most importantly, I’ve allowed myself to relax. It took some time for my body to adjust back to a sensible routine. I feel so much better after a few early nights. It just shows what taking care of yourself can do for your outlook on life. It’s a subject I’m very interested in, and my day off so far has consisted of this:

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I’m trying to look after myself, mind and body, as best as I can with the budget I have. There will be more posts surrounding this topic this week. For now, I’m going to enjoy my two days off from work and possibly even put pen to paper. That would be my next adventure, albeit a little closer to home. Sounds good to me.

Broadened horizons

When one is Interrailing, one has a substantial amount of time to gaze out of the window at the flying scenery and ponder about life. It was on our final train, destined for Paris, that I relived my Europe adventure and thought about what I had learnt.

            Firstly, the point of travelling (for me at least) is to see beautiful things. That’s why you put up with long periods with no sleep, getting lost and rude awakenings in hostels. So that you can go to the top of the clock tower in Prague and take in the beauty of the city, just as the sun is setting. We saw so many things that took my breath away, not always for the right reasons. Even in our first city of Amsterdam, the harrowing emptiness of Anne Frank’s house contrasted hugely with the decadence of the Royal Palace. The world is full of contrasts and it’s up to us to see the good side and cherish the beauty.

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Old Town Square, Prague

            Next, I now understand that World War Two is still a deep scar that runs through the whole of Europe. In every city we ventured into, a war memorial could be found. It was interesting to see the difference between Berlin and Munich’s stance on the war. Berlin seemed very keen to remember the horror, document lives lost in huge memorials and make sure the struggles are not forgotten. Munich didn’t seem to have the same amount of visuals, or perhaps we were visiting the wrong area. Although I have an interest in WW2, this was the first time I started to understand just how impactful and devastating the Second World War was to so many nations.

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Prague’s War Memorial

            My third lesson was only truly learnt after I stepped off the coach in London. It may be terribly clichéd, but it can transport a girl back to Kansas, it must be true. There’s no place like home. Travelling is wondrous. All of the exploring and learning and eating is divine, there’s no argument there. But the physical act of moving from place to place, moving to a new bed every couple of days, all becomes very tiring. By Munich, our penultimate destination, we had lost our urge to sight see. Wandering around markets and lounging in Bier Gartens had the most appeal, so that’s what we did. Freedom is the essence of travelling. But after awhile, you begin to yearn for structure.

            Well, half of you does. The other half of me would like to continue gallivanting around Europe, enjoying anonymity and little responsibility. But on the coach home, L and I were both excited to be returning to our lives. We have good prospects, comfortable homes and each other. We are both very lucky.

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Bon Paris!

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One of the many delicious meals we enjoyed (Berlin)

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Fisherman’s Bastion, Budapest

 

            The most wonderful thing about travelling in my opinion is that you get to go home. You can stick your amassed postcards on the wall and smile as you recollect each precious memory. You share your photos with loved ones (and lovely blog readers!). You retell your adventures and laugh at the good times. I hope to create many more good times in a similar trip in the future.

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PS Normal service will now resume, with a slight change of schedule. I will now be posting on Mondays, Wednesday and of course, Frugal Fridays!