The seven seas: great expectations

Musing on travel, a wise man once said that, “If at some point you don’t ask yourself, ‘What have I gotten myself into?’ then you’re not doing it right”.

While such situations may be an essential part of any extended adventure, the prospect of something going wrong in a foreign land is still a large barrier to packing the suitcase and booking the flights.

“What if I get sick? What if we get mugged? And what if the Eyjafjallajökull volcano goes crazy again?” These are all valid questions, and are all likely to put some off of boarding their transport to a far-flung country.

But, without getting all philosophical, occasionally in life the time comes to bite that bullet and get out there. Raft the Franklin, hike Kilimanjaro or travel the Trans-Siberian railway. Sometimes, that travel itch just needs to be scratched, no matter the obstacles.

So, after years of dreaming and planning, I’m finally off. My girlfriend Lizzie will be joining me on what should hopefully be seven and a half months of joyous gallivanting across one of the most diverse and interesting continents in the world.

Yes, Europe is hardly off the beaten track, but it remains an enduring attraction. Perhaps its eclectic mix of everything – fascinating history, vibrant and varied culture, international sporting events, beautiful landscapes and famous festivals – make it the primary destination for so many tourists. Whatever the reason, I’m going!

A brief trip in 2010 only furthered my desire to spend some serious time in the east, west and centre. I’ll be catching buses, trains, planes and boats across almost the entire expanse of land that is Europe (plus the United Kingdom and Ireland, if we want to get technical).

My feet will no doubt get sore, while my affinity for bicycles could be seriously tested. I will probably become a veteran at sleeping in uncomfortable locations, and my budget culinary skills could be challenged.

Yet above all, I have great expectations. Dreams of delicious food in Italy, hopes of romantic walks through Paris, and ultimately, a desire to watch lots and lots of football (soccer). I’ll throw myself headlong into the delights of Europe, and hopefully come up smiling.

By the time this is published, I will be enjoying life on the Mediterranean coast in Valencia, Spain. We’ll then head to England, Scotland and Ireland, before flying to Belgium and beginning a grand European adventure.

Unless the Woroni editors get bored of my tales, I will bring you the best, worst and strangest of Europe right here every issue. Wish me luck – I may need it!

Kieran Pender is an Arts/Law student at the ANU, who has taken 12 months program leave in 2012 and is about to hit the road.

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