Monday, April 18, 2016

The travel-bug – Part One

Just the other day I thought of an item for my bucket-list. Two years ago I wrote a piece for this blog called “No bucket-list”, in which I reported that I didn’t have a bucket-list. Which was true; I hadn’t seen every inspiring sight in the world, but I’d seen enough to satisfy me. My travel-bug had long ago splattered against the windshield of domestic life.

But I had forgotten Geiranger Fjord, until a photo of it appeared in some Norwegian site I had Googled. So. There’s my first bucket-list item. I wonder if there’ll be more. I can recall many beautiful places from the seventy countries I’ve passed through in my time, and no doubt there are thousands that I ought to see. So who knows?

In The Summer of ’63 (June 2013) I reported hitching-hiking (a lot more hiking than I had expected, in those days before Norway’s oil discoveries made everybody rich enough to own cars) from Bergen to the Russian border and back to England via Helsinki and Oslo. 

A man on a motor-bike rode us down the slow and dangerous switchback road to Geiranger Fjord. From the top, it looked as though we could have jumped out and down to where two tiny cruise-ships were anchored next to the little vik (village; wick in England, vik in Norwegian, as in Vik-ing).

My Dad believed his house in Toowoomba had the grandest panorama-view in all of Queensland – looking east from the top of the Great Dividing Range. He had a huge picture-window put in, to enjoy it the more. Ross’s “ranch” in southern Norway has a similar view. He’s never seen the one in Toowoomba, so there may be something in his DNA that attracted him to his little paradise. (Norwegian Wood, July 2015)

My Scandinavian adventure was supposed to be followed by a year’s auditing in London, but halfway through that Mum needed me back in Brisbane where Dad was dying. Afterwards, it didn’t seem worth the effort to resume the job in London, so I went off travelling a bit earlier than the schedule called for.

David-from-the-ship-over and I drifted around England with a bunch of skydivers for a few weeks, then I nipped off to buy a car in Hamburg with the help of a friend of a friend. David joined me in Berlin for the drive back. He reminded me earlier this week of my then-obsession for driving around churches; we did that with every church we came to along the way. Not around the whole churchyards, just the actual church buildings, which was much trickier.

Oktoberfest in Munich, then Greece and the eight months with Linda through the Middle East and Eastern Europe, which I’ve covered in other posts. At the end of that adventure, my Mum met us in London – her first trip overseas. I showed her the best parts of Britain, and she went home vowing to see the whole place one day.

Toronto was chosen as the place to replenish the bank account before going back to Toowoomba and settling down. When Linda gave up on me and flew home to mother, I took a few weeks’ vacation in the Caribbean, just to keep my hand in. (Eight o’clock White Man’s Time, July 2013) 

But once she and I sorted out our differences enough, we married and drove down to jobs in the Bahamas, where the travel-bug came out of its 18-month hibernation. There – overpaid and underworked – we spent our spare cash on cheap weekends in the Out-Islands, successive Easters in Jamaica and Puerto Rico, one vacation in Central America and one in Paris and Spain.

Flush with money – nearly $50,000! – we retired in 1970 and prepared ourselves for the caves of Crete and a life with the hippies there. Linda took a primary-teachers course in Perth (Australia) so she could teach English to the natives, and we signed on for a dusty two-week convoy through the Outback to the Kimberleys and back down the coast road. That was just to keep the parasite-bug in good shape.

We never did make the caves of Crete (A young man’s car, September 2013). The closest we ever got to Crete was the whitewashed houses of Mykonos, back in our Big Adventure. Everyone says Mykonos is the pick of the smaller Greek islands, so maybe it should go onto my new bucket-list too. 

With just Geiranger for company, that doesn't make much of a bucket-list, does it? Hmmm. More thought is needed. I'll have to get back to you on this.