Anticipation and Preparation

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

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I have lived in the UK for most of my life, but when young I definitely had wanderlust and even ended up living in South Africa for several years which was a wonderful experience. I now look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

46 thoughts on “Anticipation and Preparation”

  1. I’m so looking forward to the next instalment Jude. I was born old and never ever considered travelling so spontaneously (as spontaneously as was possible then).

    1. I couldn’t wait to explore the world. I think if I’d been born in another time I would have been one of those early settlers.

    1. There’s more to come Gilly, I’m not sure it was confidence as much as a desire to get away from England, it could have so easily been to Canada where I had a job offer.

  2. What an adventure in the making, and such an insight into pre-Internet difficulties. Like Cathy, I didn’t start travelling till I was in my 50s. And your children thought visiting me was a dangerous act!!! Or questionable at least.

    1. Hahaha, yes! My children are worryworts, but then they didn’t do much travelling when growing up as I couldn’t afford holidays. I suppose Rohan is the only adventurer but he was looking for something, whereas I am just looking. Pretty much 5 years since I stayed with you. Where does the time go!

  3. Is this instalment 1, or have I missed some?
    I remember pre-internet paper trails, and am sooo glad they’re now history. In mid 1980s when I was looking into the possibility of working in the UK for couple of years, I had to — gasp!! — send a letter via the post to the UK embassy in Ottawa. I explained my situation (mentioning that my father had been born in England) and back came a passport application. The course of my entire life changed with that one envelope from the embassy!

    1. Only one previous post about my desire to visit India: A call to place. Have we not lost something though with everything being instantly available?

      1. Re having lost — in my opinion, nothing has been lost, and so much has been gained! I’d never choose to go back to libraries, and books as sole knowledge sources, and letters, and phone calls, and paying bills in person, and getting cash from a human teller at a bank during limited hours Mon-Fri. But that’s just me!

  4. What an adventure you planned. I remember the first overseas trip we organised, in 1999. It was all done via international phone calls and letters and through a travel agent. It’s all so much easier now.

    1. And with the Internet you can travel to most places virtually. Which sort of takes away the excitement of not knowing what you will find.

    1. I remember you encouraging me to do this several years back! I finally got around to writing it up – hope you enjoy the trip.

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