I realize that many who may read this post have traveled internationally, but outside of a handful of mission trip experiences, our recent trip to the British Isles was a new adventure in international travel for our trio. One of the recurring observations I made as we traveled had to do with logistics. I find the nuts and bolts of the traveling experience, with it’s many mediums of transportation, interesting – and something that we tend to take to for granted.
Just consider in our three week jaunt we experienced transportation through six different airplanes, three tour buses (coaches being the preferred UK term), two shuttle vans, two rental cars (was I ever glad to say good-bye to them!), two ferries, a taxi, two overground trains, innumerable underground trains, and our own six feet! Each of these transportation mediums required advance planning, check in and security procedures, coordination of on and off-boarding (mind the gap!), financial commitments (sign here!), guides/drivers/pilots, en-route services (some better than others), and fellow travelers.
I know – the lines (or queues), the waiting, the delays, the irritable fellow travelers – it can all be a real hassle; but wow, just think how relatively easy it is in our day to move around the world. Planes, trains and automobiles indeed, creating traffic and congestion, noise and pollution – yes, but moving people from place to place in what would’ve taken days, weeks, maybe even years in the past.
In Scotland and Ireland I learned to maneuver the narrow roads and by-ways, and the innumerable roundabouts, all while driving on the left side of the road from the right side of the car (look right, turn left). I think my passengers, and navigator, only had a couple of heart attacks; and my sincerest of apologies to Mr. O’Brien of Cashel (could there have been a more suited place for it?) and that minor international driving incident. Oops!
The ferries that helped us get to Iona were a nice reminder of our days in the Pacific Northwest. The bus (coach) ride across Mull was an exercise in prayer and patience. (Men who mumble really should not be tour guides!)
By the time we got to London I was glad to give up the keys and the driving. We set new Fitbit records for steps in a week in her majesty’s fine city. Those of you who know my wife and her high per day step count (chasing first graders) may find that interesting. We were glad for our former DC experiences with the Metro as we soon became proficient at riding the Tube all over town. And we learned to punt when our train was delayed, or in one case just stopped, and they said “This train will now be terminating at this station”. That two minute walk the Underground staff member assured us to our final destination turned in fifteen, but it was a beautiful night.
London is full of daring cyclist that fill the streets right alongside the taxis and buses. As one who appreciates cycling I was intrigued by this favored mode of transportation. But I’m not sure I’d have the nerve to take to those streets – or the narrow roads of Scotland and Ireland where we saw so many cyclists, for that matter.
We ended our venture by taking a one day trip to Paris via the Eurostar. Yes, it is possible to do Paris in a day, albeit a very long one. I know we only saw the highlights, but I’m glad for the experience. There were several cyclists aboard the train, changing into their gear as we made our way to the City of Light. They were met at the train station by a French cycling host, obviously going to share a weekend on the roads in the land of the Tour de France. It looked like fun. So, after our travel day home (walking from our flat to the Underground, Underground to Heathrow (changing lines once), plane to Philadelphia (delayed 90 minutes), plane to Indianapolis, and car ride home) and a short night’s rest (still on UK time) I got on my bike for the first time in nearly two months and enjoyed a ride on the rural roads of Bartholomew County. After all, somebody needed to go out and check on how the corn is growing.
It’s good to be home. So glad for the experience and all the modes of transportation that helped us achieve it.