Tuesday, 5 July 2016

The Journey Began

Forewarning: Our apologies that the first half on this blog will be written in retrospect; we are nearing the supposed halfway point of our trip and realising quite how much we've already seeing and experienced it's beginning to dawn of us how much we are likely to forget if we don't start documenting things down. Fortunately being the proactive specimens that we are, we've been lugging a big leather bound dairy with us around the world in which we've jotted down notes from our trip so we don't have to rely 100% on our equally questionable memories. 

Unfortunately being the inactive slugs that we are, after our few months in Europe we became increasingly - well I don't want to say lazy, but well, lazy - at least in regards to updating the diary meaning that it's only complete up until our arrival in Sri Lanka in October. That does nevertheless leave a good couple of month of our journey filled with experiences from ranging from inane to incredible; so enjoy.
The first line of the journal written on the 5th "This is the first entry in this journal which I hope to keep relatively up to date over the next year or so. I imagine however due to the constraints of travelling and general laziness on my part I will probably fail to do us"....I guess I know myself quite well.

And so it begins...approx 32kg between us (most of it Sarah's...)

Background: Our world trip began with a summer in Spain. Spain, whose high tourist season runs throughout the summer in which prices increase everywhere. A great place for people on a budget right? Well we had a plan to beat this issue. We had arranged for ourselves a job teaching English in a summer school in Pamplona for 3 weeks at the end of July (with an optional extra week of teaching for one of us). The job was to pay well enough to cover our living costs with a bit left over to add a little extra to our savings. This way we could enjoy a month in the sun and our travel savings wouldn't decrease, before being tourists for the second month. Except not. Sadly a week before we flew we were informed that there weren't enough kids signed up for the school and consequently there would be no summer school. Bugger. We were then left in travelling around Spain for 2 months rather than 1 during the hottest and most expensive time of the year. 
The Brexit vote had come just before our departure as well meaning all of the Pounds which we had spent years saving up very, very suddenly became a worth a whole lot less. How about that for poor timing. 


It began: 5th of July 2016

Start as you mean to go on:

Pamplona was to be our first destination. It wasn't just the job that brought us here, but Señor Lewie Clough who as he had been teaching in the city for the past year (how do you think we got the job), was kind enough to offer us his place for a few nights. It also just so happened to be the week of San Fermin so frankly how could we refuse to visit.
But first we had to get to Pamplona and since we were doing everything as cheap as possible, for us this entailed getting a flight from London, to Madrid, to Bilbao and then a bus to Pamplona, you know, rather than a direct flight to Pamplona. So our first ever night of our year long round the world, we slept, or rather didn't sleep in Madrid airport...start as you mean to go.....

Bright lights of Madrid aiport
A six hour layover from midnight to 6am in an overly airconned airport terminal. The scene was like a strange alternate universe first world refugee camp; with all the businesses, shops, cafes in the airport closed, there were swathes of very weary and haggard travelers trapped in the terminal without purpose wandering around with glazed over eyes or looking for some half comfortable to rest. The lucky ones, those who had arrived the earliest, had spotted a Starbucks with the shuttered only partly closed and with the promise of sofas, cushions and power outlets they'd crept under the barrier. Every piece of padded (and unpadded) furniture had some knackered soul draped over it and every electrical socket had been claimed by the nearest traveller.

This was until at 3am the lights were switched on and in came the army of cleaning staff to prepare the place for the morning. For those who had sort shelter in Starbucks, us included, we were kicked out by a cleaning lady with the tired mannerism of someone who had done this many times before, probably on a nightly basis. Forced out of the warmth and the comfort of the coffee shop we resigned ourselves to sleeping on the hard, cold metal benches. Whichever scoundrel decided choose benches with solid, immovable armrests for the airport is an absolute bellend. After coming to terms with the impossibility of laying flat on these benches, we re-resigned ourselves to lying on the tiled fall under a table.

Sarah having been woken up by the cleaning staff in Starbucks was concerned she wouldn't be able to fall back to sleep again. Fortunately for her she was once more sound asleep within about a minute of voicing this particular concern. I was suffering so badly with my eczema that I wasn't able to bend or stretch my arms without letting slip a very unmanly weep. This in combination with the unnecessary cold temperature of the terminal and the hard floor, it's needless to say I did not sleep at all that night. I can now happily say however that since travelling my eczema which has always plagued me at home has completely disappeared (and it did within only a few weeks of travelling). I guess I will just have to travel all of my life. 

In spite of this terrible night, the rest of the journey from London to Pamplona was pleasant. It was nothing special but leaving Bilbao airport without needing going through customs or needing to show any proof of identification felt quite strange. It occurred me that I had never travelled on a domestic flight before (at least as far as I can remember). I was so used to the routine of getting off the plane, stopping to use the toilet, queueing up at immigration, having my passport checked then finding our luggage before leaving, that the complete lack of security on this flight threw me a bit, for a while afterwards I was half expecting someone to grab me by the shoulder and demand to see some ID.
In any case we got a bus to the coach station, catching a quick glimpse of the Guggenheim museum on the way, Sarah napped a bit more whilst we waited for the coach and again a bit more on the coach, and finally we arrived at Pamplona during the open ceremony for San Fermin. What an arrival that was.....

Until then,

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