The Northern Way
Welcome back! It’s really been quite the week since my first post with BlogMercurial, but before I get into that I just want to say a massive thanks to everyone who got in touch about the site! I really appreciate the feedback and I have a few changes I want to implement over the next week or so, so thanks again for the suggestions.
Well, on Sunday I said I was leaving Barcelona for a new adventure. I got one.
We’ll be here all day if I give you the blow by blow account, so instead, here’s a short but sweet recipe for adventure.
One backpacker (well aged, ~25 years)
One general direction of travel (north)
1. Sleep in far too long and sprinkle with a liberal dose of procrastination. Finally leave Barcelona at 2pm with some lovely tourist magnet-makers, a Columbian truck driver, a young French family and their overexcited puppy and a genial Spanish fellow driving home from visiting his father in Valencia. Add oranges from Jose’s father’s tree, a soundtrack from English psychedelic/prog rock band Yes during the dusk in south-east France and you should end up in the general vicinity of Lyon before midnight.
2. Take one kind Turkish truck driver and sit for 10 hours. Mix with the kind of conversation that comes without any mutual languages in common, a deliciously greasy Makerna (meaty Turkish pasta dish spiced with mother-made sambal) cooked truckside at a rest stop and seperate at arrival near Amiens. Note a strong Kiwi accent from a customer in the petrol station store, play the ‘NZ two degrees of connection game’ (Fiona, if you read this I really want to hear about Flip’s reaction!) and join the NZ/Scottish convoy to the evening’s camping spot.
3. Arrive in Gant/Gent/Ghent (depending on who you ask) after a brisk whirl in Lille, a border crossing with white-haired hippies, trying out your Dutch with an unfortunate Belgian truck driver and meeting Wessel van Orden, a personal recommendation to help you detect any and all unexploded WWI and WWII weapons you may have lying around in your back yard. Introduce Eline, one Belgian friend met in the Netherlands, her friends, a haircut, the beautiful medieval charms of this city packed with an unfair share of facade-lined cobble lanes, peaceful canals, more churches and heritage buildings than you can shake your frites at and finish with dangerously strong Belgian beers.
4. The icing on the cake.
Finish (Den Haag/The Hague) hitching in a surprisingly easy fashion thanks to engaging conversation and a lift all the way with Leiden University’s Doctor Paul . You will find the challenge, however, comes from arriving back in the Netherlands to find your cashflow card and credit card simultaneously stop working. The solution? Spend hours on Skype and days later, bike to Delft to pick up your Visa Western Union cash transfer. Somehow time this with a three day birthday celebration of your Scheveningen summer friend Ester, a fellow traveller who is off to Brazil on Tuesday for three months of kitesurfing.
Tomorrow, continue your trip north. Midsummer.