Wish you all have a relaxing time and a happy holiday. Wherever you are during this vacation, it’s my hope that you have it the way you want it to be. Some of you might be returning to your parents’ houses - having family reunions. Others preferred to (or had to) stay at work or study place, or visiting friends. Well, in any way, - I hope you enjoy it.
To me, this December break gave an opportunity to make a solo journey through several cities in
But being a student also means I have no luxury to afford travelling in expensive manner. Therefore, the lone backpacking which I just did, apart from giving me the excitement of sightseeing, also provided me with a useful lesson on planning skills. My scenario was to visit eight cities in sixteen days. It involved trips by foot, coach, plane and boat, but no train – except once from the airport to the city centre of
I met many friends during the trip. I stayed at their homes in some cities. But most of the travel was conducted in solitary. Not that I was in the mood of solitude, even though I had been alone from the beginning of my trip in
Now I am home, and it remains for me to take a little rest and write some of my reflection about the journey. I call it “A Note from the North”. If this interests you dear friends, please do read on...
It started with a study tour to
And then we arrived in
During the three days of my group’s stay in
On our first night in
Next day, we went to Harland and Wolff yards. It’s the dock where RMS Titanic was built in 1911. We know the ship is famous for a wrong reason - it sank after hitting an iceberg on its maiden trip from Southampton to
At the end of our second day's programme, a merry evening was awaiting us. After having a fine dinner at a restaurant nearby the hotel, everybody’s courage and hidden artistic talent were summoned. Each of us had to sing to gladden our hearts - even though many of us could barely carry a tune and despite there was no karaoke machine to be our guiding angel. We performed solos and duets, live of course. Alison, our programme’s secretary, was the only one who luckily managed to keep her talent unnoticed by Jan, Abdulai, Mr. Hunt and the other talent scouts – so that she did not have to chant any melody that night. But next time, who knows? We simply had a very good light moment that night; although I reckoned that deep in our hearts we hoped the fire siren would not ruin our dreams again.
On the following day, the study tour programme ended. And as everyone else returned to
I was also introduced to Gillian's sister Emily and learned that the horse paintings in their kitchen were made by her. I forget whether they were of crayon or pastel, but two out of the five were blue and red with dreamy psychedelic backgrounds. I love them. I later found out that except David - Gil's father, everyone else in the family is left-handed. And they all are fond of horses.
I had an extra stay in
We managed to reach our final destination before rain, and as soon as we arrived, I walked through the cliffs and down to the seaside, North Atlantic Ocean, with another visitor whose name is El, from
Before I came there, I looked at some maps of the cities on the internet and tried to master them by logic and, when possible, by heart. I understand that a man travelling with this knowledge could make himself aware of directions when necessary. I didn't carry a travel-guide book. My intention was to discover whatever I could along the way. In that way, life became not easier – but simpler to me. However, I had a few names of places which interested me most. I wrote them in a little black book where I sketch and write down my thoughts. Their function was simply to provide me with a sense of destinations so that I can navigate myself better and in a clearer gist of direction. But if it turned out that I could not reach those places – surely I found something else – and I had no regret about that. Because like what James Bond said, “If it happened, it happened. Regret was unprofessional.” :)
My arrival in
On Sunday morning, fourteenth of December, I left
I content myself with kebabs, salads, fish and chips and sandwiches during the trip. And once I restored strength to my legs I walked through all the marked paths along the side of a river called
This capital of
My intention of visiting
In the following day, I continued my journey alone to my next destination, the fifth city: a city called
Actually, I knew next to nothing about the city before I came. Mark Knopfler’s song “Sailing to
Well, very early in the next morning, I was already on my way to
I left the city in the next morning just when the said students meeting was about to begin. And my next stop was
But seeing the Theatre of Dream was not my sole intention of coming to
My memory of
On the next day, as my bus was departing rather late, I had the chance to walk the city in the morning. And I said yes when another guest of the hostel asked me to join for the walk. She is an art student from the
Of all the good things that I remember about
And that was it, my friends. On the twenty third of December, two days before Christmas, I returned to
During this last trip I did not sleep – I looked outside of the window until I reached
Well, I think that’s the story of the entire trip. My note from the North. Pretty lengthy, eh? I just recall again now some words from a
Before I stop this writing, I want to mention my sincere thankfulness to those who have been so kind in supporting me in various ways during the unforgettable travel. To my parents who always pray for my well-being; to the McFarlands, Nuh, Najib, Piet and the Birmingham’s Herons Ways cul-de-sac family - for their open-door atmosphere of hospitality; to Vishnu for taking my black suit back from Belfast to Oxford; to Fiona for the wonderful backpack – for without it, it would be impossible for me to number myself as a “real backpacker” :) ; to Melissa for the useful hints of Scotland; to Eko for introducing me to the Angel of the North; and lastly to Megabus - without whose service this trip would have been much more expensive to realise – and perhaps less adventurous.
Happy New Year!
the v of adfenture. :)