A Travellerspoint blog

United Kingdom

Ascent: An Ending

Epilogue to the Esoteric Globe

sunny 6 °C

It’s been over a year since I wrote my last blog entry. I wrote it just before the year turned to 2013, in the wake of my father’s death. When I wrote it, it felt like an ending.

The title of this blog is based on the haunting song by Brian Eno called An Ending (Ascent), written for a movie about the Apollo space program. You can hear it here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=It4WxQ6dnn0. The song came into my head as I finished my last entry.

I originally started writing a blog when I started travelling more, both for work and for pleasure. I had lots of different thoughts about what the blog would be over the years, even at points wondering if it might not be the start of new career as a travel writer.

Ultimately, though, the blog was my motivation to live a more interesting life. It made me more adventurous. As I have gotten older, I have found myself becoming more introverted. When travelling, especially for work, if left to my own devices, I would probably be happy just staying in my hotel room and watching TV.

Knowing that I had a blog, and should write an entry about the place I am in, it forced me to get out and experience something. I never regretted getting out and doing stuff once I was out, but often would suffer from a lack of motivation to get started. The blog, and knowing I needed an entry, provided that initial push to get out and do something.

In the past few years, though, things have changed. I no longer live the nomadic life of a consultant, and instead am trying to settle into a new life in a new country. When I first moved to the UK in 2008, the blog was still an inspiration and motivation to get out and do things - make new friends, immerse myself in a new life, explore the interesting parts of my new city.

After living in London for a few years, I decided that I would make a life for myself here. No longer did I need motivation to get out and experience London as a tourist. I needed not a breadth of experiences, but to dive deep into a specific life.

I realised, though, that the blog was holding me back. I was going out observing life, taking some pictures of it, and then writing about it in the blog. I felt like the blog was giving me an excuse to stand on the sidelines, when what I really needed was to get into the melee.

I thus made a resolution to not blog for a year, and instead to use my energy to immerse myself in my London life. To do things not because they would make a great blog entry, but rather because it would give me a deeper connection to my life in London.

While the blog has been quiet, I have been busy. I got my permanent residency for the UK. I moved to a nicer house to a more interesting neighbourhood. I gardened and BBQ’d and had people over. I left my job to take some time off. I have taken a wine course, and driving lessons, and met people who share interests of mine like formula one, sailing and skiing to gain some new friends. I did some online dating for a bit, and may pick it up again in the new year.

Best of all, I’ve still kept going out, experiencing things. After ten years of the blog acting as my motivation, the habit of getting out has become so ingrained I don’t need the blog as a crutch anymore. Further, as I am not experiencing things as an observer thinking of how to write about it, I am meeting more people and getting more involved in the experiences.

So with that I am ending the Esoteric Globe, with the final chapter being about how my father inspired me to live a brave life, and this epilogue telling you how it is coming along one year on.

I may pick up blogging again in the future if I feel the need arises, but will start fresh in a new blog. I am still writing, though in only 140 characters, on Twitter, where I also post some pictures now and again, if you really cannot do without my musings.

Thank you all for reading and commenting over the years. I hope I was entertaining, and perhaps provided some inspiration for you all to travel. Writing for you has inspired me to have a more interesting life, and as I move forward I will continue to do the same.

To live a brave life.

Posted by GregW 03:45 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged travel_philosophy migration_experiences migration_philosophy Comments (0)

The Secret Trainspotter... Riding London's Old and New Rail

Riding from London Victoria to London Bridge on the last day of service (Dec 8), and then the first day of service on the new Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays, Highbury and Islington and right round to Clapham Junction on the first day of service (Dec 9)

sunny 8 °C

I am going to apologise in advance for this entry, and provide a warning. This is an entry about two train rides from and to places within London, in one case from one point in London right around back to the same place. You might find it dull, but I find riding around on trains endlessly fascinating. It's in my heritage. Anyway, if you find train rides dull, I would suggest you stop reading now.

Still here? All right, you've been warned. You've only yourself to blame now.

I wrote recently about a trip on the parliamentary train from Clapham High Street to Kensington Olympia, and how the opening of a new train service from Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays was allowing this service to close. The new Overground service isn't just closing this (mostly useless) service, but also closing a twice-an-hour service from London Victoria to London Bridge. The Victoria to London Bridge service was closing on December 8th, and the new Overground Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays opens December 9th, so I decided to ride them both.

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London Victoria to London Bridge, December 8th, 2012

The Inner South London Line was a twice hourly service running between London Victoria and London Bridge stations in central London, servicing Wandsworth and Southwark with a horseshoe service to these two main terminal stations in London.

I headed from Clapham Junction to Victoria to catch the 13:11 departure from Victoria. The train was due to call at Battersea Park, Wandsworth Road, Clapham High Street, Denmark Hill, Peckham Rye, Queens Road Peckham, South Bermondsey and finally terminating at London Bridge.

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London Victoria has this great logo on the floor telling you to watch what you are doing with your roller bag. Don't be a trolley wally, it says.
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I boarded the service, which is usually a two car train but Southern Rail had put on 4 car trains for the day. There were a few train spotters taking photos (much as I was), and a few people with placards about the service, but there was also a few people who were just taking the train to get where they wanted to go, looking a little bemused at those of us with cameras and placards.

I inadvertently ended up on the same train as the Southwark Rail Users group (SRUG), who were riding the trip a couple time around. They had signs and were taking pictures, and talking to people on the train. The woman I talked to said they weren't protesting, just communicating, though the information they were handing out was titled "South London's Loss".

They were handing out maps they felt better represented the new layout of the train services than the TFL tube maps, which they said don't show how Southwark is connected to central London. I didn't bother pointing out that the TFL tube map doesn't show any rail service other than the Overground, and that most of the new stops weren't on the old London maps.

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Other than the chat with the SRUG people, the train journey was short and uneventful.

Battersea Power Station from the rail bridge

Battersea Power Station from the rail bridge


Peckham Rye station, last time that this Southern train upholstery could be seen here?

Peckham Rye station, last time that this Southern train upholstery could be seen here?


Between Queens Road and South Bermondsey, A view of the Shard

Between Queens Road and South Bermondsey, A view of the Shard

We arrive at London Bridge, and off I get. The station is undergoing a number of improvements, which is one of the reasons that this South London Line service is being discontinued, as platforms in London Bridge station are being closed until 2018. I wander around lost for a few minutes before I find the way to the Underground, passing in the shadow of The Shard, Europe's tallest building.

Arrival at London Bridge, walking out to see Europe's tallest building - The Shard

Arrival at London Bridge, walking out to see Europe's tallest building - The Shard

Off I went on the Jubilee line to do some Christmas shopping... For myself... I bought a laptop... at Harrod's. That really happened.

Clapham Junction to Highbury & Islington to Clapham Junction, The Orbital Overground, December 9th, 2012

The sun rose on Sunday, and "all change, please," when the old services stop and the new service begins.

The London Overground is a train service run by Transport for London, the local government body responsible for transportation in the Greater London area. In the past few years, TFL has taken on many train services, aiming to create an orbital railway running around central London. The last piece was to put together a link along the southern edge of the city, and a new service from Clapham Junction to Surrey Quays completes the link.

source:Wikipedia

source:Wikipedia

I caught the train from Clapham Junction, catching the 11:52 headed towards Highbury and Islington. There were a few "train enthusiasts" on the train (you could tell by the literature printed off and the cameras), but there was mostly regular rail users, off on whatever commute they were on for the day.

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We left Clapham Junction, and slowly made our way along, eventually passing underneath the main rail track and coming up on the previously unused portion of track heading to Wandsworth Road.

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Wandsworth Road and Clapham High Street station, previously serviced by Southern Rail but now only serviced by the Overground, have been rebranded as London Overground stations, with the orange roundel. We pulled into the station, and I noticed a young boy (probably around 12) filming the train as it came in from the north end of the platform. A few minutes later, when we pulled out, the boy had moved down to the south end of the platform to film us pulling out.

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Soon enough the train pulled into Denmark Hill, where I jumped off for a quick rest on my round-London journey.

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I had heard that there was a decent pub in the Denmark Hill rail station building called the Phoenix. I popped in to the pub, and found an absolutely lovely pub with a massive beautiful clock. I got myself a pint of London Pride ale (decent choice for a train spotter).

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Pint done, and reinforced, I headed back to the station to catch the train and continued my round the city journey.

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Boarding the train at Denmark Hill, I found a much busier train than the last, with every seat taken, and people having to stand. Pretty impressive for the first day of service.

We pulled out from Denmark Hill and off to Peckham Rye. As we pulled into Peckham Rye, I noticed the same young lad who had filmed us coming into Wandsworth Road filming our train coming in. Arrival filmed, he jumped on the train and as the train ran from Peckham Rye to Queens Road Peckham, he worked his way through the open train to the front of the train, his mother following behind him.

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At Queens Road, the lad jumped off, positioned himself on the platform, and filmed us leaving the station. His mother accompanying him must be a patient woman.

I was so busy watching the young boy filming, I missed the arrival of the woman who sat across from me. She soon got my attention, though, as she spent the entire time on the train sobbing to herself silently. Like a good Brit, I looked away in embarrassment. I seem to attract this kind of behaviour, first noticing crying on the Heathrow Connect in August 2009 and then recently on a flight in September where the woman beside me was crying.

We turned north, going over the newest bit of the rail network (actually a reconstructed old bit of the rail network) that connects us onto the line to Surrey Quays. We now had stopped being on the new bit, and were travelling now up the east side of London. We travelled down underground, and eventually under the Thames river in the Thames_Tunnel, the first tunnel built under the river. It was built in the mid-1800s as a pedestrian tunnel. In 1865 it was converted to a rail tunnnel, and other than a few years closure here and there, has been serving London by rail since that time.

We pull up out the tunnels and into Shoreditch, where we get some excellent views of the City of London and the area surrounding Liverpool Street station.

The woman left the train, still sobbing, at Shoreditch High Street, along with most of the rest of the train. A much emptier train continued along the east of the city, and then turned to the west to start along the Northern stretch of the circle.

We pulled into Highbury & Islington, and I decide to take another break, popping out of the station and to the nearby Famous Cock pub, where I take a quick break for the toilet, and then to replenish my liquids, another pint. I had a pint of Spitfire ale and watched the first 30 minutes of the Manchester derby between Manchester United and Manchester City.

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After watching Man U's Wayne Rooney score a soft, rolling goal, I headed back to Highbury and Islington station, and down to the Overground platforms. The next train direct to Clapham Junction (heading west) wasn't for 27 minutes, so I hopped onto a train to Willseden Junction.

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The train journey from Highbury & Islington was uneventful, though busy. This section of the line is well established, so not surprising to see it well used.

I snapped this photo during the journey of a TFL advert for the extension to the south. It promises quicker journeys to the clubs in Clapham, Camden and Hoxton. Given that I live in Clapham, and haven't made it out to the clubs there, I doubt that I will be using the train service to get to clubs in North or East London.

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The young Japanese girl who was sitting under the sign looked at me somewhat strangely, but otherwise I was the only strangeness on this part of the journey. Mostly it was young people and families off to wherever they where going for the day.

The train terminated at Willseden Junction, and I wait 8 minutes for the next train to Clapham Junction. The train pulls in, and fills up with people. Other than the bit from Clapham Junction to Denmark Hill, and from Shoreditch High Street to Highbury and Islington, the train has been full on a Sunday afternoon. And not just with train spotters and nerds like me, but with people going about their regular Sunday afternoons.

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It being Christmas time, and this being a train that stops at Shepherd's Bush station for Westfield Shopping centre, the train was busy with shoppers, either on their way to buy, or at Shebu (what us in-people call Shepherd's Bush) boarding the train with tons of bags.

In amongst that crowd, an older man with large, grey mutton chops also boarded the train. He stood at one end, and listened as the train pulled away from Shepherd's Bush.

The automated train announcement came on. "This is the Overground service to Clapham Junction. The next station is Kensington Olympia," the mechanical, female voice said.

"Olymmmm-Pi-Ahhhh!" the man sung out after the announcement had ended. "Overground... Underground..." he sang, and then stopped singing. The music didn't stop, though, he replaced his voice with a harmonica. Mutton chops played his harmonica until the train pulled into West Brompton, when he pulled his hat down on his head, turned his collars up and left the train. I had expected him to walk through the train asking for change, but he didn't. Simply played his music, and left.

A few minutes later, we pulled into platform 1 at Clapham Junction, and I had completed the circle. From Clapham Junction to Clapham Junction, a journey of 0 net miles.

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A final pint of the day to celebrate the circle at Windsor Castle pub in Clapham Junction.

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Home again, home again... Completed the circle and back in Clapham Junction. Celebration pint! A secret train spotter success.

Now, where'd I leave my anorak?

Posted by GregW 09:11 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trains train_travel Comments (0)

Ghost Train: West London Parliamentary Train

A ride on a UK ghost train, soon to be exorcised.

rain 13 °C

I have just turned 42 years old. Now, now, no need for the wailing. It’s not so bad. I find that I don’t wring my hands with worry and anxiousness too much about birthdays now I am in my 40s. In your 20s, your birthday is a cause of celebration. In your 30s, its about reflection and disappointment at the years slipping away with goals unachieved. In your 40s, expectations lifted, you are who you are going to be, likely, so you just roll with it. Or, more likely, you have kids and have to focus on their birthdays.

No kids for me, so just the freedom of not worrying about my birthday.

That is not to say I let the day pass unmarked. No, my hangover this morning is testament to the fact the day was celebrated with beer, gin, tequila and an ill-advised sambuca. The day was marked, and will be remembered. Other than the very last part of the night, which I struggle to remember now.

However, before the drinking... at least the heavy drinking... I fulfilled a bit of my inner-train-geekiness and rode a GHOST TRAIN!

<insert scary noises here>

Okay, it wasn’t actually an apparition of the Flying Scotsman rumbling down the tracks, nor even a train filled with the ghosts of long dead conductors. It was a Parliamentary Train.

A Parliamentary Train, while sounding quite grand - filled with MPs in plush carriages riding on secret railways to a station under the Parliament buildings - is in fact just a regular passenger train. These trains are just not run frequently, nor very well publicised, nor even really sensible.

In the Railway Regulation Act of 1844, the government of the day made it a legal requirement to provide passenger service along every railway line in the country. Not just between two stations, but on every single mile of track. To stop providing service on a train line, a train company and the government need to go through a very lengthy consultation process.

To get around this requirement in a crafty legal way, certain trains are run at very low intervals, just to provide service on a length of track. These trains, sometime running as infrequently as once a week, are called Parliamentary Trains, in reference to the act of Parliament which made these a requirement, though sometimes they are known in general chatter as ghost trains (mostly by the tabloids, who love to claim they are a sign of government waste. Government waste and sponging MPs is the third favourite topic of the tabloid newspapers, right behind how immigrants are ruining everything, and how fat or skinny celebrities are).

In West London, there is one such train. Running once a day in each direction between Kensington Olympia station and Wandsworth Road or Clapham High Street Station, the West London Parliamentary Train is in service to ensure that a passenger train runs over a small section of track on a branch connecting the train line into Victoria Station with the train line into Waterloo with the train line running round the edge of London on the west side. It’s probably no more than a couple 100 feet of otherwise unused(*) track along some of the busiest train lines in the country.

(*) Unused in the sense of no scheduled passenger service. The line itself is well used by freight traffic, charter services and to facilitate the movement of trains between their regular routes and maintenance yards.

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So this once a day service runs, 20 minutes from Clapham High Street to Kensington Olympia, even though there are multiple options that could do the same journey (with a change) in 35 minutes. The service is of little use to anyone, unless they happen to be there at the exact time the train is going, and is travelling between the few specific stations that this train services.

Or, you are a train spotter or other rail geek, and want to go on a strange, little ride.

Even though the consultation process is lengthy, it sometimes is determined it is worth doing. For this particular line, because a new service is about to open that will use some (though not all) of the line and therefore the train companies can free up the line. Come December 8th, the service will no longer run.

The opportunity to ride a ghost train, and one that is soon to be discontinued. Well, that was too good for me to pass up.

So, half day of work off for my birthday, I decided to treat myself, and planned for a trip on the 16:11 departure from Clapham High Street station to Kensington (Olympia), calling at Wandsworth Road, Imperial Wharf and West Brompton.

I left my house and headed towards Clapham High Street from my house near Clapham Junction station. I caught the 345 bus towards Peckham, which handily drops me right off in front of Clapham High Street Station.

It was a very rainy and grey London day, wet and dull when I arrived at Clapham High Street station.

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I arrived about 5 minutes to four o'clock. I looked at the departure board, and saw the 16:11 to Kensington (Olympia) listed as the 2nd service. The 15:58 to Victoria came and went, and the 16:11 service moved up to 1st on the departures board for platform 2.

I had been told that sometimes these trains don’t appear on the departure board, or are not announced, to try and keep people off them. Whether this is to keep up the pretence of the service not being needed in the event of a consultation, or simply because people could be confused about the destination, I don’t know. Surely if you arrived at Clapham High Street Station, which other than this one service only has trains going to Victoria Station, you could accidentally jump on this train without realising it isn’t going where you are expecting. However, this one seemed well advertised.

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I was meeting a couple of people at the station who were interested in riding the train, though I had only exchanged emails with them, and so we were meeting sight unseen. Having bent over to grab the above picture, I heard behind me a voice say, "you must be Greg." I turned around to see one of the people I was meeting coming up the stairs to the platform.

"Indeed I am," I said. He explained that he guessed that someone taking a photo of a train schedule wasn't your average commuter. The third in our party arrived shortly, and we waited patiently for our train to roll in.

Having heard that the doors only open very briefly on these trains, we made sure we were close to one of the doors once the train came to a stop, and I quickly hit the "door open" button. Luckily we had no trouble getting on, and were joined by a few other people who looked to be commuters rather than people there to experience a soon to be discontinued parliamentary train journey.

I commute from Clapham Junction into Victoria every working day, so the train itself was pretty familiar - a standard Southern commuter train.

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Wandsworth Road station is where we pulled into next for a brief stop. The doors go in and out of service very quickly on these trains, only being active for about 30 seconds. A few people jumped on at Wandsworth Road station, but the train remained for the most part empty.

Next up was the unusual bit, where the train departed from the main line up towards Battersea Park and Victoria, and instead took the cord off over Factory Junction and Latchmere Junction No. 1.

Quite a grey day, which meant there wasn't great views of much. However, living in the area, I was pretty sure there isn't much of a view we were missing.

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There was a short delay as we sat on the track, part of a delay built into the schedule. We soon enough rolled on, passing not far from my house, and joining the line up towards Chelsea.

We crossed over a swollen-looking Thames, and pulled into Imperial Wharf. This station was busier than either Clapham High Street or Wandsworth Road, and we had a few people getting on, then upon hearing the announcement that the train was only going as far as Olympia, about half of them quickly jumped back off again.

The train passed by Chelsea's football grounds, quickly called at West Brompton and passed by the soon to be redeveloped Earl's Court before continuing to its final stop, Kensington (Olympia).

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It was a short trip, but interesting. For me, beside for soothing the inner-train-geek in me, it provided a few other interesting points. First, we past close by my current house in Battersea, and ended up departing at Kensington Olympia, about a 5 minute walk from where I previously lived in London. Secondly, living near Clapham Junction, I often take the London Overground Service. Much of the service we took (From Latchmere junction through to Imperial Wharf to Kensington Olympia) is covered by the existing Overground service from Clapham Junction to Willesden Junction. And most of the part that isn't covered by the existing Overground service (Clapham High Street to Wandsworth Road and then to Factory Junction) will soon be covered by the new southern loop of the Overground. This new service starts in December, and is one of the prime factors in closing this route. It is, in essence, a preview for me of additional transport options coming to my part of town. (In fact, we saw an Overground train in trials on this route while waiting at Clapham High Street station).

After the journey, our party decided to have a celebratory drink (part of the many layers of booze that brought on my aforementioned hangover), and as a former local, I suggested a local pub. Jumping ahead, turns out the pub had turned into an Italian restaurant, and while they had beer on tap, no real ale, which would have seemed more fitting for a day of train spotting. Can’t say we were typical train spotters, though, as none of us had beards nor were wearing an anorak. But that is jumping ahead in the story, we were still at the station.

We watched for a moment as confused train patrons thought about boarding the train, now going out of service, but were turned away by the announcements from the staff. Umbrellas up, we headed off into the rainy London afternoon towards the pub. I took one last look back at the train, now pulling away, out of service and off to the yard, and watched as it disappeared into the light rain down the line.

Ghost train, disappearing slowly into the mist.

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Posted by GregW 10:24 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged trains train_travel Comments (0)

Thanksgiving 2012 - The Gin Martini

Things I am thankful for...

overcast 13 °C

Stealing, as I do, posts from my facebook page...

Canadian Thanksgiving this weekend. So in the spirit - along with turkey sausages for dinner this evening - stuff I am thankful for...

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As the day wore one - and I had consumed my Turkey sausages, I called my family back in Toronto. I spoke to the family back in Toronto as the clock turned over to 11 PM here in the UK. They were sitting down for Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and all the trimmings. I hung up the phone, knowing they would soon be on to pumpkin pie.

So to you all reading this, regardless of the day or your nationality, I wish you a Happy Thanksgiving. Early October may be the Thanksgiving day for Canada, but we should be aware of what we need to give thanks for every day.

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Look up, this is the world you live in. It may be harsh and hard at times, but it can also be beautiful. It gives so many gifts, even when at the time they seem like blows to your chest. Hard lives are hard won.

Thankful for everything that has happened - the good, the bad and the ugly. If it hadn't of happened, I'd be a different man, in a different place, in a different set of circumstances. Maybe it would have been better, maybe it would have been worse. But it wouldn't have been me.

Posted by GregW 17:31 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged history travel_philosophy migration_experiences migration_philosophy Comments (0)

Travel Envy

One of those "the grass is always greener" moments

sunny 14 °C

I used to travel quite a bit (as this blog attests). From 2001 until 2008 I spent a significant portion of my time on the road, away from my Toronto home. As an example, in 2006, I spent 215 days of 365 possible (58.9%) of my time outside of Canada.

Mostly that was for work, but I would often during that time be planning leisure trips. In 2002, I spent a good six months planning for my 2 months sabbatical in South America. Reading travel books, figuring out visas, planning routes, getting shots, researching and booking transport and hotels. After that, and up until I moved to the UK, I seemed to constantly be planning a new, upcoming trip. Whether it be to Costa Rica, Tanzania or Japan.

One of the biggest logistical challenges I faced was when I was planning for the Paris to Hong Kong trip in 2005. I was working at the time on a project that saw me jetting between Montreal, San Francisco and Paris. Obviously I needed my passport to perform all that travel. At the same time, I was trying to get visas arranged for Belarus, Russia, China and Mongolia. All of them required my passport as well.

In a feat of logistical planning brilliance (and paying for some expedited service), I managed to get all the visas and still be able to meet all my work travel requirements - arranging to pick up the Chinese visa when I was in San Francisco, arranging the Belarus and Mongolian visas from their Parisian embassies, and Russian visa in Toronto (as the Russians said I needed to get it from my home country in closest to where I lived).

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During that time, more and more I would think to myself that the travel was so temporary. Even when I was staying in a place for months on end, there was always that apartment back in Toronto that I knew I would eventually return to. It started to dawn on me that what I was really yearning for was an opportunity to immerse myself in a place, to cut the ties to Toronto and take the brave, bold step of living abroad.

I was envious of those who lived abroad. They got to immerse themselves in a culture. It was like constantly travelling.

Even as far back as 2005, while I was running around trying to arrange those visas, was I already thinking of that next step.

I think it would be fun to live in a foreign country. As I travel from place to place to place, I am always on the lookout for places that I think I could live in. Maybe some day I'll actually pull the trigger and move some place for a year or two, but for now, it's just dreaming.

From Paris, The Liveable

A year or two? Naive young man. 4 years on in London, and no thoughts of heading back to Toronto yet.

So my wanderlust and constant travel planning has disappeared, replaced by the getting on with life in a new land.

The past few days here in London, I have been arranging dental appointments, arranging for a pick up of a parcel and shuffling around some investments in my various pensions (have managed to pick up 4 different pension accounts in my 4 years in the UK). I have no thoughts of upcoming trips in my head, save for a quick day-trip to Munich for work at the end of October, and vague thoughts about needing to plan a winter ski trip.

Yesterday, I came in the office early, and found a co-worker standing at the photocopier, looking perplexed.

"You're in early," I said.

"Oh, yeah," he replied, punching at the buttons on the machine. "I have been arranging visa appointments. I am dropping off my passport to the Russian embassy today, and just got off the phone booking an appointment for my US visa. It's not until the end of the month. I could have squeezed it in the week after next, but I'll probably only get my passport back from the Russian embassy on the Monday, maybe Tuesday, and I need to fly to Malaysia on the Thursday. Didn't want to take the chance that I wouldn't have the passport, or that the Americans still had it while I needed to be boarding a plane to Malaysia."

I laughed. "Reminds me of the time I was arranging for my Paris to Hong Kong trip," I said, and told the story of my logistical triumph above.

After I ended my story, my coworker cursed. "Can't get this scanner to work. It won't let me enter an email address to send," he said.

"Strange," I replied. "It was working yesterday, because I scanned my pension document and mailed it to myself."

"Technology," he said, shrugging, and walked off down the hall to use one of the other photocopiers in the building. I walked off to my desk.

Then I stopped.

Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, New York. These are the places that my coworker is going. Getting flights, booking hotels, arranging visas. All the things I used to do. What have I done this week? Pension, dentist, deliveries!

Right at that moment, I missed it. That adventure and excitement. I wanted to be planning a trip somewhere. Flying off to exotic lands. I wasn't. I wasn't going anywhere.

Ski_Posters.jpg

The feeling faded as the day wore on. A short burst of travel envy, that passed as I thought about my life and where I am now. Living abroad, the "constant travel" that I was envious of back when I was travelling. It sure looks like fun, but it can be awfully tiring. And I know if I was doing it now, I'd probably be looking at those who had moved there with a touch of envy.

The grass is always greener, isn't it. Even if you have lived on that lawn before.

Posted by GregW 02:48 Archived in United Kingdom Tagged armchair_travel travel_philosophy Comments (0)

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