England to Australia (1973)
I met him on the boat from Newcastle to Bergen which was taking me to my new job working in a hotel in the middle of nowhere. He wasn’t anyone special, just a young man travelling around Europe, but there were several of us on the boat and we sort of drifted together as young people do, chatting and having a few drinks in the lounge. We all exchanged addresses before disembarking and going our separate ways. Margie, the exchange student from Wisconsin, invited me to stay in her student bedsit as I didn’t need to continue on my journey for another couple of days. Josh, the Scotsman headed off on his bicycle laden with tent and sleeping bag and panniers filled with ‘stuff’. He was cycling all around Norway this summer. Jon, the South African, was also travelling, but using local buses and trains, staying in hostels and cheap guest houses and making his way through Scandinavia and then down to southern Europe.
During my six months working at the hotel I received several postcards from Jon. He was returning to South Africa after his European travels, but wanted to know if I fancied joining him and travelling overland as far as India. He knew that I was intending on going to Australia after my stint finished at the hotel. It was tempting. I had always fancied visiting India where my mother had been born. And it was en route to Australia. We could split up there and go our separate ways.
In the days before the Internet making such travel plans was not so easy. You had to write to the embassies of the countries that you wanted to visit to get information about visas, transport, accommodation etc. Then contact those travel agents who specialised in the areas where you were travelling to for useful pamphlets and scour bookshops for suitable literature. Living in Norway at that time made it harder for me as everything had to be done by post. Fortunately there were leaflets available about the ‘hippie trail‘ written by other travellers, with details of places along the route where you could pick up information for the next part of the journey. Using all these resources we managed to concoct a plan.
From London we would head across the Channel to the Netherlands where Jon had a cousin we could stay with, then through Germany, Austria, Yugoslavia, Greece, spend time in the islands before heading for Turkey, Iran (Persia at that time), Afghanistan, Pakistan and finally India. Jon would depart from Bombay on a ship to Durban, South Africa whereas I would continue south to Madras (now Chennai) and find a route across to Burma (Myanmar), Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia.
- map √
- rucksack √
- new hiking boots √
- water purification tablets √
- dried food sachets √
- toiletries √
- change of clothes √
- farewells to friends and family √
Two weeks after my return from Norway I was ready to go.
~wander.essence~ anticipation and preparation