The logistics of our road trip and how it’s effected me

road trip

I’ve been meaning to work this out since we came back at the beginning of May but just kept putting it off. I am not a maths person, numbers bore me but I want to know how many miles we drove! I think that’s so interesting. I want the number – just to throw out in conversation, ‘Yeah, cool story bro, but did you know I drove X number of miles around Europe in two weeks?! Yeah, you’re right, I do sound like a douche bag. Please carry on with your story.’

Also the route. I want an image of the route. We didn’t plan where we were going other than a very loose idea of places we wanted to visit. Like Mc Hammer trousers loose. I have a scratch off world map, which I’ve already scratched off the 5 countries we visited but in comparison to the whole world it looks like we accomplished nothing and makes this blog post sound pointless – I’m proud when I just get out of bed in the morning. All these facts and photos will go into a special ‘Up’ scrap book that one of my best friends bought me and I can be all sentimental and feel special in my own house and not in front of all of your eyes. But for now I am 1: very proud I did maths and 2: proud of James and I for our first road trip around Europe.

route

We visited 5 countries; France, Belgium, Luxembourg, Germany and The Netherlands. We went for two weeks, stayed in a different hotel/hostel/airbnb/campsite every night and booked them on the day or the day before. This map is a very rough route of what we did, it doesn’t include going to the supermarkets or when we had to leave Luxembourg to go to Belgium to buy sleeping bags, then back to Luxembourg and it doesn’t include a few places we visited on the way to other places. Also doesn’t show our actual starting point which is our home but we don’t need anymore stalkers – no offence.

Probably could have done a more practical route, I honestly didn’t know it was this shape. I thought it was more oval and that’s how I’ve been describing it to people. Still absolutely recommend every place we visited and wouldn’t change anything.

IMG_3014

So the time is here.

All my data comes from google timeline – so if we didn’t have our phones on us (which for me was the whole two weeks) no data was recorded, including if our phones was off (but then it’ll hop to the other place and work out miles, but not time.. I think..)

In two weeks we did 1733.7 miles of driving. That is 50 hours and 27 minutes.

We also recorded 30.31 miles of walking which is 16 hours and 46 minutes. I think this could be way off, only because we always had the phone with us in the car but we didn’t always walk with a phone. But this is the number I’m taking! Especially after a time I’m too embarrassed to say of working out the math.

One of the first posts mentioning this road trip was about our old route that we wanted to take – then couldn’t so decided on no route. That route was 1956 miles which google maps said would be 31 hours. How have we done less miles than that but more hours? Traffic I suppose, that’s a big different though. So we did a little less than the original plan we had to scrap but that was going all the way to Poland anyway. I’m proud of our 1733.7 miles.

Also in that post I spoke about my deodorant – ‘What more, I’m going for a completely aluminium free one, so look forward to updates on my armpits. Exciting times ahead.’ – then I never did update you and funnily enough it was one of the first things my Mum mentioned as I got back. The verdict? Pretty useless to be honest. I used it all up and I’m onto another ‘healthier’ deodorant, but when you are having a busy day they’re pretty crap. You have to weigh the pros and cons of spraying aluminium on your armpits. Unless you’re not a sweaty betty then it’ll probably be fine for you. I just dealt with it, like a woman, where as James gave up in Germany and bought Lynx or something. He did stink though.

 

I’ve written and re-written a few posts now, about how this trip has effected me. They were too long, too much and I got bored reading them back. Really positive things are hard to read through. Also I spoke about the shit side too, where you get the holiday blues and it’s just.. ahh all too much. So I want to keep it simple.

It’s like that road trip has aliened me. Before I was an out of tune guitar string but now I’m humming a perfect E. I’m still out of tune a lot of the time, don’t get me wrong. I still suffer with anxiety and depression, I get very sad and stressed, I still want to run away from everything some times and bury my head in my 4 year old brothers sand pit. And that’s putting it all lightly. I think you just know in yourself if you’re on the right track, don’t you. Maybe it’s all about being true to yourself. Maybe I lied too much about what I want. It’s not me to sit around. It’s not me to be serious. It’s not me to be indoors all the time. It’s not me to be in an office and only pay off a mortgage for the rest of my life. Getting too deep down the rabbit hole, simple, Emily, simple. What is me? Well, I’m buying my boyfriend and I adult scooters for his birthday. That’s me.

Life before my road trip does genuinely seem so different and foreign. I wouldn’t say I’m a better me in anyway but I do think I’ve become more chill and more confident. I definitely value a day more, I realise what can be done. I also spend my days differently. There’s excitement back. Like.. I can do what I want. That’s okay.

Like yesterday was a normal work day, when I finished I went round my boyfriends house and we chilled for a bit then he washed his car. I ate burnt marmite toast. Anything else? Had a coffee I think, watched some youtube, for sure. Then as evening came it was a bit like ‘what now?’ I’m done with sitting. I don’t want to watch TV, I don’t want to be indoors. I think it’s a lack of options that make people unproductive. You have to be creative to come up with things to do in a normal day, just to make it that little bit more special and exciting.

We got in the car, I was still wearing my work uniform but put on James’s crocs instead of my boots, and James drove. We had no plan but ended up going to a park, I had a few beers, we played with our new fidget spinners that were bought for us, pretended to do tricks – I actually managed to spin it on my massive bump of a forehead, finally a use for it – sat in the sun on a bench, said ‘parakeet’ every time one flew by. Then went back home.

Now, not for everyone, everyone has their own cup of tea but I’m so happy I’m not drinking others anymore.

Among the chaos there’s a little bit of peace in me.

I thank those 1733.7 miles. And James of course.

14 days, 8 magnets, 4 countries

Like my postcard post, where we sent my Mum 9 postcards from 4 countries on our road trip, we also bought ugly magnets for James’s mum. The irony that you’re in a beautiful country and you buy a crap fridge magnet to remember your time is just wonderful. We didn’t buy any for ourselves but we do have a tacky tulip from The Netherlands that I’m in love with. Are there any better souvenirs than that over priced rubbish? Nope.

I took photos of the beautiful locations of where we bought them.

magnets

The locations? In order;

Bruge, Belgium

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Frankfurt, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Bonn, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

 

 

Was the camping trial a success?

DSC_0707

The long drive home started at 10 am ish and straight into dense and misty rain. Lucky we left when we did and we didn’t have this when packing the tent away this morning.

We had two goals today before leaving. That’s how we travel actually, we generally make a loose goal for the day. No plans, no agenda, just a thought that pops up on the day. So yesterdays was to walk to the beach in glorious sun, shorts, bikini on, ready for beach life and unfortunately we couldn’t do that. Though still managed to visit them. We probably did more yesterday because it was raining to be honest. Today we wanted to have cream teas and dip our toes in the sea. Not at the same time. Well, preferably not.

I like to think of myself as a fun person, I’m pretty playful and in my head I can imagine me jumping into the sea. In my brain I ran in with my arms in the air, screaming but getting a great buzz while freezing my tits off. I’m wild in my head. James and I just aren’t extreme sports people really but I would like to be. The bravery escapes me. I don’t mind getting wet or cold, it’s just effort isn’t it. I need to sort that shit out. That’s another summer goal to do; one extreme sport. I have one is mind.

IMG_1005 1

Anyway! Cream teas were delicious and the sea bitterly cold. The teenagers serving us our scones and tea were surfers, obviously, who isn’t? We were agreeing it’s a shame about the bad weather yesterday and he said ‘but it was great for surfing!’ We could have been like ‘oh yeah! It was!’ or asked if he surfed, which is what he implied. Instead, us fatties scoffed our scones and went silent with a look on our faces that clearly we couldn’t relate to him. At least James bought a hoodie last night to fit in. As soon as we turned up he said that I really fit in with the style, where as he was wearing working men trousers, timberlands and a water proof jacket. I rocked up in a hoodie and flip flops. He needed a hoodie. I’m only joking though, it’s a town where you can’t not fit in. Everyone does, as you are.

Also if James really wanted to fit in you wouldn’t exactly buy a bright red one with ‘Newquay’ and ‘Lifeguard’ on. It’s the same one that I bought 9 years ago – but I remember paying £20 and his was £10. Mr Hip-Hop from the first night (who we did end up bumping into at the clubhouse last night) said ‘new jumper?’ I replied ‘how could you tell?’

IMG_1003 1IMG_1008 1

The scones really were delicious though, I swear down I’ve never had such good scones before. Although I can’t remember how they pronounce it in Cornwall – it’s an age old argument among the English. James and I say scone as in gone. Well, now typing this up I think I say it both ways because in my head I said scones as in cones. It’s so troubling. I did have a worry about whether the cream goes on the top or bottom too, let me google it now. Yes! we did it right. Well that didn’t change my life at all.

I suggested a brilliant idea to James. Seeing as we both have crap balance we know we will never become pro surfers. Life goal ruined. So we have a plan that one day we will go onto the Cornwall beaches with all the surfers, in our wet suits, act all gnarly and do the dude hand symbol, like look really cool and hip. Then blow up a rubber boat, run slowly into the sea and surf the waves with that. We would also have beers in our boat.

IMG_1011 1IMG_1012 1

On the journey home I asked James what song reminds him of our road trip through Europe. I’m very much a sentimental person and music, smells, certain things remind me of experiences. There’s a deodorant by sure that really reminds me of Avril Lavigne. A certain song reminds me of the start of our relationship. A certain type of jingle makes my brother dance around doing ballet in my head. One of the surfer pubs we went to threw me back to being 17 with how everyone was dressed and the music playing. You get the picture. So his answer was Somebody To Love by Queen – when the song kept loosing signal but I would still screech out the words, then the song would start again two seconds later so I would re-sing the same words and then it’ll stop again etc. Mine is Handlebars by Flobots. How James was shouting out the words while we were driving through Germany. I’m so sentimental, those memories are very special to me.

IMG_1022 1

That was all for our first camping trip. The end. People doubted the idea because it was so far away and for only two nights – but I so recommend it. I don’t recommend it if you are seriously lacking sleep and hungover, the drive there was a bitch, but the journey back was wonderful. I take sickness pills and they generally completely knock me out but I fought it for a few hours out of guilt of being a passenger. I should have just slept because I was a zombie but on the inside those travel pills made me feel amazing. They completely chill you out and for someone who has anxiety everyday it’s just mind blowing. Don’t worry, I’m not a travel sickness pill junkie. But then after about four hours we were both buzzing and having a hoot of a road trip. It was all a hoot. Hoot.

 

A day of rain on the Cornwall beaches

DSC_0626

 

We woke at 6am to rain pelting on our tent ceiling. Slept wonderfully besides that. It was a good idea using an air mattress and a bed topper. Felt like an actual bed, there was no slumming it. Except for the rain, campings best friend.

We had planned to walk to the beach after our cooked English breakfast but here we are driving instead. As dirty as you can get in the rain in a muddy field, the shower this morning was glorious. Because of the already wet floor from the rain and the shower splashing I had to really practice the art of balancing to be sure my trouser leg wouldn’t get wet. Maybe other women are brave enough to get changed out in the open to avoid this dilemma and also maybe other women didn’t have a perforated ear drum when they were young and so their balance isn’t a bit off. The floor was all grassy and muddy from the rain anyway, it was dryer in the shower.

I managed to poop without worrying too much too. Well, the second time I went to brave it that is. The first time there was a women straightening her hair. You’d think because it’s a campsite everyone poops there, it’s fine, but if there’s a lady straightening her hair on a campsite while it’s pouring down outside, cats and dogs I tell you, I can’t exactly have a shit in the cubical next to her without her judging me. She probably farts roses and butterflies.

IMG_0928 1

 

We ended up driving around the coast with no plan nor map. Beach to beach. We stopped off at Constantine bay and bought a tea from a bloke serving it out of converted toilets. Now that sounds gross but it wasn’t, quirky more like. He recommended the next beach along, which is where we are driving to now. He and his wife moved here a year ago and he said it’s this beach that made them move, which I misunderstood at first – I thought he meant it made him move away and I was confused whether he was saying it was nice or a shit hole. When we left he said that’s another beach ticked off your list and James said we should actually do that – have a check list. Haven’t got any ideas of how to yet but that could be a plan for the future.

Beautiful beaches, possibly even more so in the dramatic weather. It was decided that if we were to move down here we would have to learn to surf or at least walk around in wet suits all day.

IMG_0959 1IMG_0944 1

The rain only stopped once the evening came. You hold hands with the weather when you do get-aways like this don’t you, your days are structured around the elements.

You see a seaside town for what it really is when it rains because without sun there’s not as much to do. Or there is but you spend longer doing it in the sun. It makes you chill, slow down, have a drink, lounge about. We didn’t get to sit on the sand and bask in the heat but that didn’t stop us going onto the beaches in our trainers and prayed they didn’t get too wet and sandy – my Birkenstocks are still soaked through from this morning. This part of England is stunning though. There’s still dodgy looking areas but they’re usually right next door to a modern or beautiful building, all very intertwined. Then again, in the sunshine I bet you hardly even notice the ugly parts with your rose tinted glasses on.

 

IMG_0965 1

Nipped into Walkabout for a drink. Choosing pubs that only have sea views is a win, a big recommendation. There was two groups of stag doos in Walkabout. One quiet, having a laugh but all definitely adults and probably work on computers. The other all dressed in football kits, handing out yellow and red cards, had a ref whistle and used it a lot, and all of them absolutely fucked. Sure the football team looked like they were having more fun by the sheer noise but the quiet group will at least make it the whole night. This was at 6pm ish, I give half of the football lads till 8.

The waitresses looked like they wanted to kill themselves when they served them food. They clearly hire pretty, young girls and I felt so bad for them. I wanted to be like ‘look, I’m 26, I have no make up on and I’m wearing a hoodie; I’ll serve them for you.’ 

IMG_0995 1

James is having a nap – it’s 9pm. You can’t question that boy, it’s okay, let him do him. I on the other hand have started to boil some water for a pot noodle. Now this is what I remember of camping. I bet my best friend, a pro camper, is turning on her comfortable sofa by the fire, watching TV.

He’s pretending to be mad but not really pretending that I told him it was 9.30 so he would wake up, when it’s just 5 past. Then told me off for being ‘too rough on my crocs’. I did it out of the goodness of my heart and also because there’s no entertainment that I’m used to here and I want attention. Innocent. Yes, I know I said let him do him, but see.. I’m drunk. Plus he has to wake if he wants to go back to the clubhouse tonight for a drink. It’s pot noodle time. The diary can wait.

IMG_0996 1

Hoping not to bump into the bloke we got chatting to last night. Everything seemed safe, everything was a laugh and then.. uh oh.. the worst thing possible happened.. he makes music. ‘Want to hear it?’ no ‘sure’.. He played us his music and then 3 tracks in he began to rap along. Then it all made sense, why he was telling us so much information about his ex wife, his kids (who were adorable) and his life story – he’s that person. He tricked us at first, it didn’t add up till he was basically selling himself to us, before we just thought he was friendly like we were being. They reel you in while you still think they’re cool and then when it’s too late you’re trapped and suffocating in the hip hop that’s playing from his phone. It’s still friendly, I suppose, but I’m really not a fan when people self promote themselves to me, especially when I’ve just met them and especially when you’re just having a laugh and a chat in a pub. And all you can do is humour them, pretend to believe in them. Then as soon as we went back to our tent James (which I was so surprised about because he can tolerate self promoters) was the first to be like WTF?! and we laughed and laughed into the night.

Top tip to everyone in the world: never meet someone and force them to listen to your music.

 

The sun came out this evening, finally

Over the years I’ve documented this field and my walks in it. I walked it in slippery mud, in crops taller than me, read The Power Of Now in it, collected things found and, as you could imagine, lost weight. I haven’t been since I joined the gym, which is a bloody shame really, but this evening with nothing to do and the sun suddenly shining after a dreary day, I went for a glorious stroll on my own. Glorious.

I didn’t plan on taking photos but I can never help myself with this field. I only had my phone though. What a good way to end a day.

IMG_2916IMG_2877IMG_2870IMG_2880IMG_2899

14 days, 9 postcards, 4 countries

It’s unknowingly become a tradition to send my Mum the most ridiculous postcards I can find on my travels. It started when I lived in Malta and she came to visit. While she was with me I was secretly finding the worst postcards and sending them to England for when she’s back home. They said silly things like ‘we just went to the pub,’ nothing more, and on the front a picture of stray cats.

Postcards are awful in general, you can find the most weirdest, most wonderful pictures and if you’re really lucky they’ll be bleached by the sun and bending. Just think of how many people have handled it! It’s truly a dying art form.

What makes them even more special is that this whole trip we were in contact with my parents by whatsapp and when you think you can’t get enough of me – 9 postcards come through the door. I’m never leaving you, parents.

In the past you would literally write what you had been up to on holiday, but obviously they already knew through being in contact and my blog. So there was no ‘Hello!!!! I’m having a great time! Yesterday we drove and today we will drive and tomorrow we will probably drive too! Miss you x’. You will see what we actually wrote.

Well, without further deliberation, I present my postcard project! Sent from 4 countries in 14 days.

The postcards

postcards

Where I wrote it

writing

What I wrote

what I wrote

Posting it

postbox

And they all arrived home.

The locations? In order;

Bruges, Belgium

Liege, Belgium

Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

Frankfurt, Germany

Cologne, Germany

Dusseldorf, Germany

Leeuwarden, The Netherlands

Amsterdam, The Netherlands

Maastricht, The Netherlands

Arriving back to the beginning of our road trip

IMG_0767 1

I know I’m dramatic and playful but this doesn’t change the fact that I feel like Harriet The Spy, for reals. It was a joke a few posts ago but I feel like I have embodied her. I have my go to’s with fitting in, I have my distractions, I have my innocence, then BAM I’m writing everything you’re saying, stranger. Yeah, you, in Amsterdam telling your boyfriend he could sleep with a prostitute but you wasn’t going to pay, I was there listening but looking like I was just simply having anxiety in a world of my own (both are true actually). Getting a little dramatic now. Let’s calm it down… and just call me a spy, scrap the Harriet part for the sake of people that haven’t seen that wonderful film.

Fun fact of the day, I wanted to be a spy when I was younger. That was the dream.

Confused? Cool. Here’s me fitting in on our European adventure, when in reality all sorts of wonderful mysteries are going on in my head and notebook.

touristspy

Our last long drive started with James driving the wrong side of the road out of a car park and nearly crashing. First time it’s happened this trip. Three hour drive to Dunkirk today, through three countries. The Netherlands, Belgium then into France. Luckily I found my travel sickness bands for this last part and the ferry tomorrow.

We haven’t got anything special planned for today.  Stupid statement seeing as we never have anything planned, what I mean if that it’s a budget hotel kind of night and eating peanut butter sandwiches while watching TV. Way to spend a last night, right? I agree.

This morning we explored Valkenburg a little. I loved the location of the hotel but I couldn’t handle how trippy the floor made me feel. It’s one of two things – it is a haunted hotel and specifically our room was infested with demons, or the floor boards were at an angle. One of the two. Valkenburg has the only castle on a hill in The Netherlands, and it was destroyed by their own King to stop the French from invading it.

IMG_0745 1IMG_0755 1

 

A funny memory just came to me on this drive, of when my family and I drove around America. I’m not sure of my age but I think I was below ten years old. I’m the youngest, then there’s my brother who is two years older and my sister who is five years older. In the front there were three seats which was/is so strange, being used to there being a gear stick instead. So Mum and Dad made it a punishment to sit in between them anytime us kids would fight.

Problem with this plan is that I loved that seat, the gimmick hadn’t worn off for me. So there’s my parents threatening us with essentially a naughty step and while it worked for my siblings I was always all for it! Now, I have a four year old brother and two year old nephew and I can imagine the pain my parents had to go through when I was eager Emily practically begging to sit in between them.

It would work on them though, they would scream bloody murder.

IMG_0770 1

We’ve arrived at the beginning. We spent our first night in Dunkirk and now our last night. Currently parked up at Dunkirk beach at 3:28pm. Bit different weather to the first time and really Dunkirk isn’t really much without sun. It’s a bank holiday too, which we didn’t know (knew it was for England). So nothing at all is open. I googled it and kept on reading about shopping hours in general and it said that many places don’t open on Monday mornings anyway! Lucky buggers! Remember when England wouldn’t be open on bank holidays, boxing day or new years day and you had to stay in with family? And now we have a choice whether we should stay in with family or go shopping at ASDA.

IMG_0785 1IMG_0794 1

In a very reminiscent mood right now. Of this trip and in general. Childhood memories and the last two weeks are flying at me left, right and centre.

IMG_0792 1

Watching a French family play together in the distance. I feel such a heavy calmness on my chest. It’s probably the beer I cracked open as soon as we parked up to be honest.

Mixed with actual happiness, of course.

IMG_0788 1