A couple of weeks ago I was asked if I would like an all-expenses-paid trip around Europe. All this in return for driving the support vehicle for a group of cyclists who were cycling from Linz in Austria to Budapest in Hungary. I love adventures and I said YES, immediately; who wouldn’t? Adventure always stimulates change because you are outside your comfort zone, and this proved to be no exception!
Each stop along the route deserves a story of its own and these will be forthcoming. But for now, describing my ‘job’ is necessary so you understand what I was doing; not just ligging around having a restful ‘holiday’ and enjoying more adventures.
As support driver my task was to wave the team off in the morning after a positive affirmation (!) and head for the next way point. The search for supermarkets was always top of the list … they had to be fed and watered to keep up their strength. I tramped miles to find these places, in boiling temperatures. Once I had a parking place I wasn’t going to give it up without a fight. I often had to fight to get it …
Supermarkets are not created equal and are adventures in themselves!
There were times when a simple visit to the supermarket to buy water, ice, juice and chocolate milk took an hour or more. Why? Because it seems nobody in the smaller towns in Austria, Slovakia or Hungary, speak English. Where is Marcel Marceau when you need him?
I would eventually get the goodies needed after much miming and head-nodding. The stores were not air-conditionend, not that you’d notice, and the dreadful heat somehow made it more difficult! My brain was fried and this was the least enjoyable part of the adventure.
SatNav … they all lie!
There was a satnav in the car (I named him Friedrich), that was old and cantankerous. Being old meant he was not au fait with any route changes in the last 10 years. Cantankerous? Perhaps he was hot? He sounded very cross when I ignored his directions. Some of these were to turn right into a building, or left into the Danube.
Friedrich’s uncertain directions had me running to google maps and using them both at the same time (her name is Melanie). I quickly learned to go where Melanie took me although even she had some very strange ideas on how to get me from A to B. Often it was via D, F and somewhere unmentionable.
Eventually I arrived where I was supposed to be which was a relief to us all!
The importance of smiling.
Austria, Hungary and Slovakia … not the most smiley people on the face of the planet and, because most of them don’t speak English I found myself saying some dreadful things about the lack of facial expressions. Good job there were no PC -ers around …
However, what I did find was that the more you persisted with the smiling routine, the more likely you were to get a response. Perhaps they’re all closet smilers just waiting to be given the chance to come out?
This is something that seems to be common in Eastern Europe … if you want to have adventures with smiley people, you have to work at it …
Change and Realisations
It isn’t until the adventure is done and you have dusted yourself off mentally and physically, that you come to realise what it did for you … these are a very few of those things:
□ cemented the belief that no matter how difficult life may feel, the struggle for others is far greater
□ filled me with gratitude for the chance to travel and experience other cultures and societies
□ created a lifelong love of goulash soup
□ improved my tolerance levels (sort of …)
□ further cemented my conviction that we are all here to SMILE!
Travel is the only thing I really miss in my current lifestyle and now I’m back, I realise how important adventures are to me. They really do broaden the mind and certainly excite the senses … think of the soup and the ice cream … and travel most definitely causes change and re-energises your whole being. Well, that’s how it works for me.
Do you love travel? Do you yearn to go to exciting places and experience something different? If you could go anywhere in the world, where woudl it be? How do you feel about your satnav?! Check out this blog I wrote about travel … interesting!
By the way, the image (bit blurred, she was moving fast), is an extremely large fan on the dashboard of an extremely small bus in Melk. It looked very funny …