Luke’s Off To Europe. Once There, Who Knows?
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Contributor Luke Armstrong heads off to Western Europe from Guatemala today. After he arrives he’s going to, well, who knows (especially not him)? He’ll be sending us dispatches along the way (if he makes it).
Eight months ago today seemed very far away. It seemed, like, months away. Eight months ago I had a few hours of free time. And as the mother who raised me knows all too well, free time for me tends to lead to things like kidnapping the neighbor’s cat in a lunch box and hiding it in a toy box for three days. (I was ten, mom. I’m sorry. Can I be un-grounded now?).
Anyways, eight months ago, I was doing what any good traveler does with their free time: look for cheap flights online. I typed in random dates and random locations to see the price. Living in Guatemala, flights to Europe tend to be well out of my price range. When a $600 flight from Guatemala to London and flying back from Madrid popped up, I took out my credit card and booked it before this unheard of price evaporated into the web’s vast abyss.
That was eight months ago. Today I am boarding a plane for London. Once there I plan to . . . I have no idea what I am going to do. I know what I am not going to do. I am not going to stay in London that long. On some scratch paper I made a tentative plan of where I want to go:
- London: March 26 — March 30;
- Paris March 30 — April 4 ;
- Morocco: April 4 —April 10;
- Madrid: April 10 — 14.
Maybe Prague? Should I go to Prague? I should go to Prague. I have an uncle in Prague. I should definitely go to Prague. Is it expensive to go to Prague? I can crash at my uncle’s place. That will cut down costs.
Okay, I might be going to Prague. And actually, I think I am going to fly out of London on March 27 instead of the 30th. Maybe I don´t even need to fly? Should I take a boat? Should I swim the English Channel? Can I swim the English Channel? Is that even legal? Do I need to train for that? Should I bring my guitar?
The last bullet point paints my level of preparedness. My overarching goal is to keep costs down and use Europe’s cheap airlines. Over Facebook I appealed to a Spanish friend of mine who works for an airline for some advice. She asked me how I planned to get around and I responded with, “I have no idea how I am getting anywhere. I fly into London, and hope to somehow make it to those places . . . I was thinking about flying with Easyjet? But I don´t know . . .” She then shattered all my hopes and dreams with one swift reply, “Hahaha . . .No chance! Specially as you are traveling during school holidays, it will cost u a fortune!”
School holidays? Spring breakers? Those kids should be in school! Instead, they are drinking and partying. Where are their parents?
As much as I don’t know what I’ll be doing, this is what I do know I’ll be doing: landing in London and figuring it out from there. This model has served me well for travels, and for life, and I have no reason to change it now. A roll of duct tape, a jar of peanut butter and some beef jerky thrown in my backpack is as much preparation as I’ve ever needed.
I’ll keep my goals for the trip simple:
- Jump off a large rock into a larger body of water;
- See some historical stuff;
- Meet some cool strangers, have a beer with them; become their Facebook friends;
- Add some vocabulary and confusion to my horrid French;
- Find a newness in myself in new surroundings and save this brightness for duller days.
Whether or not my mode of transport is via plane or hitchhiking, my goal is to make it to five countries in three weeks. I’ll keep TheExpeditioner readers posted along the way. If you have any tips on where to go or what to do, or if you have a couch to crash on in any of these countries, feel free to write a comment below or send me an email.
About the Author
Luke Maguire Armstrong lives in Guatemala directing the humanitarian aid organization, Nuestros Ahijados. His book of poetry, iPoems for the Dolphins to Click Home About (available for sale on Amazon.com) is especially enjoyed by people who “don’t read poetry.” (@lukespartacus)