But this big trip was all by myself. Even though I had the outer aura of calm (most of the time as you will find out later) I was a wreck inside. Which is why I wanted people with me until the VERY LAST MOMENT!!! (apologies to Jonny and Anne-Sophie for the extra TLC I needed, lol) The confidence I have gained is immeasurable, and I will have no problem going by myself again, but if nothing else-- I love having someone to talk to. Shocking I know.
|This is what I looked like at god knows what time of the day on the way from Iceland to Frankfurt- going on 20 hours of no sleep here.|
|I did this a lot- wine and reading my kindle.|
I really like being on airplanes, it is just something that I enjoy. I actually giggle a little during liftoff, which I embrace with gusto. Anyone looking my way would think I was a little crazy and they could be right. I was so so freaking fortunate to have booked Icelandair last winter, in a class called economy comfort. Which basically was sitting in the first few rows of the economy class, but with no one sitting in the seat next to you. Fabulous- I will pay a bit more to have more room to spread out. (I like to have areas to lay all my stuff!) So in March I got notice that they eliminated that option and- hang on to your cushy seats everyone- all four of my airplane rides were in freaking first class. "Would you like some Prosecco?" she says when I sit down?? Why yes, yes I will take sparkling Italian wine when I was frazzled by my own mental activity to relax. And then choose wine to go with my meals. And the superb espresso...... and the desserts....... Oh hell yes. It was a very good airline. And real pillows and a blanket.... I am such a child. HAHA But it is the little things, you know?
|So much food. Did not finish the food, did finish the drinks!|
|I had one of these (a glass of, not a bottle of) on the way there and one on the way back.... That chardonnay was super good!|
|A couple dirty window pictures of the train side of Paris. I saw the Eiffel tower far in the distance a while on the second leg of this trip, but no photos!|
I had to get from Germany to London somehow, and while I could have done a plane again- somehow I ended up on the Eurostar. There is a bit of a convoluted story to that; originally I was going to travel with Anne-Sophie to London because she had an event to attend. But then she had to work and so I decided (with encouragement from others) to indeed go on the Eurostar train. So the thing was, I agreed to this train when I had someone to hold my hand under the English channel..... and it never occurred to me that I could change to a plane once I verbally committed to the train.
|Really good espresso on the Eurostar- note the delicious chocolate they include- such class.|
If you want to put one of my biggest fears, claustrophobia, into one terrifying event- being under god knows how much water for heaven knows how long with no chance of living through a catastrophic event (yes I go there, don't judge me) that would be the Chunnel. But since I was like about 2000 miles out of my comfort zone, I just said what the hell and went with it. I mean how bad could it be? And it turns out not bad at all.
|Outstanding espresso on the Eurostar|
|This was Strasbourg I think - I learned really fast how to read these guys|
The thing about train travel is that your big suitcase does not magically disappear, like on an airplane, to reappear later - also by magic- at your destination (for the most part- we all know airport and baggage horror stories), and you have to drag ALL of your bags (including your ridiculously heavy camera bag) through the stations. And when you have to change said train in the middle of your journey, you have to drag them through the streets of Paris. Oh boy. So, rolling suitcase with my carry-on attached to the top, and my camera bag on my arm with my purse on my shoulder was quite interesting. But I stopped every 500 feet or so to check my map, which thankfully had many recognizable places marked (think: McDonalds and Western Union). I was at first seriously paralyzed when I got finally out of that station and saw signs for the Gare du Nord and then I had no idea where to go when I got out onto the street. In retrospect, since the one way was sort of dead end there was only one correct way to go. But my mind was frozen. I had to find my way through part of Paris- holy crap ---why didn't I just fly????? So. Paula in my mind, and the fact she researched the name of the main street- Magenta I think- and I had her directions about where to look and things to notice, I trudged off. When I got to an angle in the road after a few blocks, and I had no idea where to go next as the signs disappeared, I piteously asked a stranger in the street, with my best French (of which I know close to nil)- Gare du Nord?? And there, with a point, I was kindly directed to see it at the end of the angled road. WHEW!!! I imagined I had plenty of time, close to an hour.
|My lunch on the train- I didn't eat the mystery meat, of course. Really- I had a little quinoa, a roll and dessert- and wine. :D|
So I went through that train- bam (bam means I hit my luggage into someone to some degree)...... sorry........bam- oh i'm so sorry........... bam sorry!! bam, oh excuse me, I am so sorry.... through Five. Freaking. Cars. Sigh. So I offloaded all that stuff on the luggage rack,, except for camera bag and purse and collapsed in my seat- a single, spacious window seat! :D A very calm, cool and kind older French lady across the aisle looked at me (who was not calm and or cool at all- definitely a stressful and HOT hour) and said- Travel is so stressful, no? And she smiled and so did I because that was just what I needed to release my stress. I am pretty sure I must have looked a bit frazzled. And then she told me I was bleeding and I had to laugh- I got a blood blister from my camera bag on my arm. So I went to the SUPER NICE AND BIG!!! bathroom (as opposed to an airplane) and cleaned myself up and pulled myself together. And I think I had a glass of wine with lunch so there was that. Trains are nice.
|This is where we began going down under, but I didn't really even realize that was what was happening at first. And you really never see the water at all ever.|
I was amazed at the size of these crazy train stations- but I guess it all makes sense when you think about it.
|Now this is a train station and some superb weather! London|
|In the lounge in Heathrow- coffee and biscuits!|
So, there is a lady at Heathrow that holds a special place in my heart. She was so kind and she directed me to expedited check in that apparently I was entitled to in Minneapolis too (ahem) and also directed me to the lounge where I could sit until boarding (ditto Minneapolis) and mentioned that I should watch my time and my gate because there are no announcements in the lounge.... thank you you sweet woman, Icelandair and yes, I will also thank karma. So I found my way there, parked myself in a nice lounge chair and had again some outstanding espresso and had true quiet and relaxation for over an hour before finding my gate. It was delightful.
|This was so so good.|
So so many people told me that I would be fine-you will have such a good time. You are so brave- you will do great! So many people told me to relax and enjoy, to ask people to help if I need it, to trust myself in effect. That is not easy for me, I have had people second guessing me and question my decisions. Most of that happened many years ago, and finally I am following my instincts and make those voices go away. We all have those ghosts from the past that make us doubt. Doubt our worthiness. Doubt our value. Doubt our ability to do new things or really embrace the unknown and the joys in life. I will find things that might not be right for them, but certainly are for me. This is personally my ultimate of clinging to things in unusual places. Clinging to my ability to do things in spite of being terrified at times and "just" anxious at others. And ultimately finding my joy.