‘What?’, you mutter to yourself. ‘What does that headline mean? I thought you were in Japan until nearly Christmas day. What is going on?’
About a week ago I was worn out by my coughing cold and felt I could not go on. Some people mentioned in their emails and blog post comments that I hadn’t remarked on my bout of poor health; they wondered whether I had come through it and was well. The truth was that I had only sufficient energy to get through each day and to write the posts of the glories of Moorish architecture as I found them in southern Spain; this left any description of my health missing – well anyway I thought, ‘How boring. You want to read about and see the new not to hear about the old’.
So, with the help of sister June and the wonderful Alanna Porter (at Thorpe and Turner Travel Associates, 127 Macquarie Street Hobart, 0449528744/ 03 6281 6000/ travel-associates.com.au) I was able to make flight changes. I decided to complete my planned itinerary in Spain, forgo the proposed experience in Japan, but travel the same route home and this kept additional costs to a minimum. Nevertheless, the result was that I had the longest possible time getting home from Europe in the history of modern-day travel (maybe): I left my Barcelona hotel at 6.45am Saturday and arrived home around 4.30pm yesterday (Monday) afternoon. Apart from flying time there was almost 2 hours waiting at Frankfurt in Germany between flights (although a sizeable proportion of that involved speed walking getting from one gate to another), 10 hours at Kensai International Airport near Osaka and Kyoto in Japan (with special permission given to use the Sakura Lounge all that time if I chose), and 7 hours at Sydney airport yesterday (I was booked on Economy for the final domestic leg home so did not have the benefit of a lounge to rest in, as you do when travelling Business Class).
By the way – by comparison with Argentinian and Spanish cities, and with Frankfurt and Osaka airports, Australia is not in the Christmas decoration game. Those places sparkled at every turn and have done so since November; I saw only one set of decorations in one spot at Sydney airport. Very dull by comparison.
This reminded me of a conversation I had with a Spanish woman in Granada. We had passed a scene of the Three Kings and I learnt there is a special day devoted in Spain to the contribution that the three kings make to Jesus’ birth. I was asked whether Australia does something special. My response was that we were not an overtly religious country and that while we had sections of the community following specific religions, celebrating the religious aspect of Christmas was not something undertaken by a most Australians. For us to dig down to celebrating one component of that nativity scene was not on the radar of most Australians. I added that, of course, there are people here that are staunch believers and follow the form. The woman in Granada remarked that perhaps not all the Catholic Spanish were believers but the day for the Three Kings being a present giving day in addition to the present giving day of Christmas Day was not a day/celebration that people wanted to give up. Consumerism is thriving!
June waited at the Hobart airport but not where I entered the building. Eventually we found each other, all smiles. Back at my place we enjoyed a couple of glasses of sparkling wine to celebrate my getting home in one piece with all luggage accounted for, and to celebrate the wonderful ‘discoveries’ I made during the 6 weeks while gallivanting across 3 continents and Antarctica. I am home to recuperate. I am not at death’s door and in fact already the frequency of my cough is lessening – I just need to rest and reinvigorate. But I am home. I am so relieved. Home Home Home. I can stop now. The decision making, and the mini-problem solving that is the moment by moment work of overseas travel as a solo independent traveller, is over (all fun when you are well, of course). A special thanks must go to my wonderful friends and neighbours Ieky and John; I can see the lawn has been mowed and weeds have been pulled. I feel so fortunate.
It has been hard work for most of these past 6 weeks and I have been so grateful for the written interest and support of lots of blog followers. Your positive comments and the additional information you provided were a boon and lifted my spirits. Each morning I looked forward to seeing who had made contact and what they had to say. In this way, friends and relatives were like a life-line as I fought against my poor health; you helped to motivate me to push myself and go out and experience each city. And of course it was always worthwhile to get out and see more. A special note of recognition goes to Verity who always ‘liked’ each post; there was no way I could see who else was looking at the blog – WordPress does not offer that sort of information. Verity’s daily acknowledgement kept me feeling in touch with the world back here. Thanks also to the two Skypers – June and Betty. Great to see you and talk with you. A massive big thank you to all who kept in touch.
I have crossed many degrees of latitude, and longitude, and spent time in the two hemispheres so that the length of days has varied; down near the Antarctic it began to be light sometime after 3am whereas in Spain the sun was rising only around 8.30am, are the extremes. Therefore, this morning in Hobart (and I have been up since 2am) I am delighted the day was lighting up around 4.45am. I have arrived back here in time to appreciate the lovely long days of summer.
And it was the right time to come home. The battery in my computer mouse has just failed; this morning I discovered it uses a larger than normal triple A so I doubt I would have found a replacement overseas. I don’t have the skills to use a computer touchpad, so the posts would have stopped. Phew! Home just in time.
This trip has helped me to realise that I am incredibly happy here in Hobart working on my blogs and other projects, and writing daily. I understand that I don’t need to travel or travel far to continue with that ‘work’. So it is likely I will stay put in the foreseeable future with the exception of occasional forays to my North Queensland based family, and some local wilderness walks and discoveries around remoter parts of Tasmania. During the coming days I will work on getting the stories of South Georgia Island and Antarctica onto the blog. Hopefully that should be a treat in the lead up to Christmas, if you have time to read each post.
So for now – expect nothing until the Antarctic adventures stories appear. I look forward to your comments and emails about those ‘discoveries’.