Every blog post I seem to start by saying “time has flown by”, well it certainly has since we arrived back home from our 15 month trip exactly one month ago today. I have really noticed that working 5 days a week seems to make the clock spin faster! Just a few weeks ago we were free and travelling the world, now we find ourselves slapped back to reality in the ‘real world’. It’s been a bit of a whirlwind and I find myself wondering if I ever went away at all, and thus I thought it was time for a bit of reflection.
I was really looking forward to seeing the ‘green fields of England’ again and eagerly looked out of the window on the way into London’s Heathrow airport in anticipation. Unfortunately it was grey clouds with rain streaming down the windows all the way down to the runway, not the English summer I was hoping for! Optimistically, or stupidly, I was dressed in shorts and flip flops and without the heat and humidity of Asia that I had been used to for the past three months I felt pretty cold! Waiting for me at the airport were my Mum and sister, complete with a welcome home balloon, and it was great to see them again after so long. As a brucey bonus I found that Katie had even baked a belated birthday cake for me. ?
The first few days at home felt surreally normal, when you go away for so long you think things will have changed at home but I found it pretty much as I had left it. That said it is nice to return to a place you know, not having to search for a room, and generally not doing all the touristy things – which gets pretty tiresome! I had about 10 days back in the UK, during which I caught up with friends and family and despite it being a long time since we last saw each other it felt like old times.
I really enjoyed being back on ‘the island’, it was nice being in my own country for a change, but after 6 months without work my wallet was feeling pretty empty and in need of some refilling. So I flew out to Bonn, Germany, where I had been living before starting our trip, to rejoin my old team at Deutsche Telekom. We had stayed in touch whilst I was away and when they asked if I would like to come back I jumped at the chance – a real luxury in the present economic climate.
It was like seeing old friends when I met my former colleagues again and I felt really welcome back in the team. Straightaway I found I had some luxuries that I didn’t have in Australia – my own desk, a quiet office, and a big monitor – no view of the harbour bridge though! It is a bit of a shock to the system to be working again, sitting in the office for 8 hours a day has definitely been a bit strange.
Germany doesn’t feel totally foreign to me these days, and I was pleased my German language skills haven’t been totally lost whilst I was away. Bonn may not have the same buzz as Sydney, but it’s a nice place and, just to prove you don’t have to go to the otherside of the world for a good sunset, I was treated to this over the city with the Rhein in the foreground.
Lisa has been spending time with her family in friends in her home town, Fürth, in southern Germany – about 4 hours on the train from Bonn. Probably the strangest thing about being back is that Lisa and are apart – in 15 months we had just two nights apart, when I was at the Rugby World Cup in Auckland, and apart from our time in Sydney we were pretty much together 24 hours a day! Of course spending so much time with the same person isn’t particularly healthy and there were times when we got on each other nerves (me more than her I suspect!) but I am really pleased how great we got on. We always had something to laugh and talk about even during the stressful moments – such as trying to find the right bus or train to get on! It is great that we have shared this amazing experience together, photos are good but it’s even better to share a memory with someone. We are looking to move closer together in the near future though, which is good as I find myself really missing my little travel mate…
I haven’t had much time to dwell on the trip, but when people ask me things like “was it a good trip?” or “where was your favourite place?” – I find it a bit difficult to answer there’s a bit more to a 15 month trip than that – there was good, bad, and indifferent! It’s funny though, you don’t fully appreciate the experience until you are back at work! Of course I would rather be lazing on a Fijian beach or being attacked by sand flies on a Kiwi one! More than anything I find myself thinking of Sydney, which for me is one of the best cities in the world, the lifestyle, the nightlife, and our friends there – why does it have to be so far away?!? Naturally when we were there we were thinking about all the things we were missing back home – the human mind is cruel sometimes!
I’m not even going to try and pick a favourite place, we pretty much liked everywhere we visited, but New Zealand seems to crop up in my thoughts more than anywhere else – again why does it have to be so far away? I don’t miss those darn sand flies though! Also some of the best experiences were in the first 6 weeks of our trip when we took the Trans-Siberian express through Russia and then went down through Mongolia to China. Over 10’000km on the train may sound boring but it was one of the best travel experiences I have had. This photo taken at the station in Moscow just before we boarded the Trans-Siberian shows the final destination of Vladivostok, which is on the eastern end of Russia (7 days travel away!), really makes me remember the anticipation and excitement I had of what lay ahead…
Visting Tibet was another very special experience, a very spiritual place with some amazing people, and getting up to Everest Base camp was another experience I won’t forget. I could go on and on about all the amazing things we saw, the people we met, and the experiences we had but that would take a while and you can read through the previous posts for more details through the links on the right.
So the plan is to see how things go for the next 6 months or so, hopefully move together and enjoy Europe again. Summer seems to be picking up, the Olympics is on, and my friends and family are not to far away – happy days! After that who knows, Germany, the UK, or maybe even Sydney – can someone invent a quicker plane please! It goes without saying that there are future travel plans in my head – the worlds a big place…Europe (maybe with the kids!), South America, Canada, and before I really settle day I quite fancy a jaunt to one of the polar regions…just need to stay in the ‘real world’ for a while and save up some money!
Keep checking back as I am sure I’ll be blogging about another trip in the not to distant future…