It’s hard to believe that after a 6.5 hour flight from Toronto I landed in London, England at the Gatwick airport. It is surprising that I’ve never made it to Europe before with it being so close to Canada. Previous to my year off, my travels always seemed to bring me south, to the U.S., Caribbean, Central America, and South America. A 6.5 hour flight seems short compared to my 13.5 hour flight from L.A. to Sydney. With all of the flying I am doing I am getting uses to it, or as used to it as you can. My 65th flight in 12 months landed me in London.
For some reason Europe always seemed so far, so big, and so daunting. My fears kept me from venturing off to Europe before this year. Horror story after another, I always worried about traveling alone in Europe. Europe was always the place where my friends experienced their worst travel memory. Yet, I always dreamed of getting there, but I just didn’t know when or how. I finally made that “when” a now and booked a one month trip through Europe. Getting ready to fly to London was one of my most nerve wrecking pre-travel experiences I have had since I first started traveling in my late teens. My palms started getting sweaty while anticipating my departure. I worried about how I would get from the airport to the hostel, would I be safe traveling alone, would I get lost, or if my stuff would get stolen? I overcame my anxieties and boarded my flight hoping for the best and knowing that everything would work out fine.
After arriving into Gatwick airport I quickly went through customs and retrieved my bag. Getting a train from London into the city was fairly easy, especially since I booked it in advance. Although I got lost a couple times walking to the hostel from the train station, I made it eventually with the help of some locals. All fears, anxieties, and worries subsided knowing that I can do anything! If I put my mind to something I know that I can do it even if there are some surprises along the way. It’s ironic to end my 14 months of travel with a place I’ve always pushed to the side due to silly misconceptions. Although I am ending my 14 months of full-time travel, my travels are really just beginning, because I know that Europe will change me and my perspective on travel.
Europe is the perfect place to travel because it’s not that far from Canada and all of the countries are extremely close together, yet each region is rich with its own unique culture, landscape, language, and customs. I’m excited to explore more of this world and to finally venture to a place I ignored for years. Europe has welcomed me with open arms and arriving in London was a breath of fresh air (literally and metaphorically speaking). I couldn’t have been more happy to welcome the wind through my hair and the cool rain on my skin in the 18 degree temperatures, because I knew that I took a leap of faith to do something I didn’t think I could. London is not scary afterall, although a huge city, I surprisingly felt safe traveling in the city. I am excited to explore more of London which I am saving for the end of my European travels before I head back to Canada.
London is the perfect place to begin and end my adventure in Europe because it was my first stop and will be the last place to I will see in Europe. It’s incredible that I landed in London and the next day I drove through England to Dover to take a ferry over to France. After driving through France, I arrived in Paris! Only in Europe can you be in London one day and in Paris the next. Europe is so much better than I expected and it is unfortunate that I put it off for so long, yet this is the perfect time in my life to experience it, appreciate it, and grow from it.