Several years ago – it doesn’t really matter how many, as it does no one any benefit to do the math and figuring out exactly how many moons ago it was! – I did an extended trip through Europe. Nearly six months of just travelling through Europe with my sister, BigSal and a friend BuddyMary. None of this ‘working holiday’ nonsense for us Cross girls – there’s simply not enough time for partying ’til all hours, getting stupid drunk on ouzo, puking on ancient ruins, falling down stairs with extra large cups full of margaritas, watching your travel companions nearly getting arrested by imams, peeing out of moving buses, getting stoned in Amsterdam, and ‘going to see his scoot’, if you have to, you know… go to work!!! Anyway, we started in London (well, if you don’t count the unexpected detour to Bahrain because a some poor guy on the plane had a heart attack as we passed over Tehran), and we went through a bunch of countries: France, Spain, Monaco, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czech Republic, Austria, Germany, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Holland, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England (and I’m sure I’ve forgotten some!), many of which were done courtesy of a Top Deck double decker bus tour.
Sigh… They don’t run them like that any more. But back in my day, 😉 they had a fleet of old London buses that had been converted to have sleeping bunk areas upstairs, kitchen and sitting areas downstairs and they pretty much ran like your average Contiki Tour, going from place to place, but without the time wasting and nightmarish packing and unpacking every night, and the tedium of putting up and pulling down tents every stop! Truly, it was one of the best things I ever did. The first eleven weeks was spent on these buses with total strangers, many of whom would do the Big Brother House proud! One of the ‘not so strange’, total strangers was HtheVet, who was an already well travelled Kiwi lady, who had been living and working as a vet in London, fully armed with a plethora of gruesome work related dinner table stories, that frequently gave the four nurses on our trip a run for their money! Anyway, HtheVet was one of the handful of people we met on the trip who we stayed in touch with, because, well… she was one of the sane ones! 😀 And she used to collect these little lapel pins on her travels and stick them up in her home. Which I thought was a fantastic idea to remember my travels too, so I started doing the same thing, because it was that, or I was likely to end up coming home with a massive pile of ‘I heart <insert place of interest>’ t-shirts that I’d probably never wear!
By the time I got home from that trip, I had a bag full of souvenir pins that were a cool little chronicle of my travels. Several years after the particular trip in question, I asked my Dad if he would make me a glass topped coffee table to display these pins in, and he lovingly made me a beautiful timber table to put them in as a wedding gift. And not surprisingly, thanks to my obsessive personality traits and persistent bowerbird tendencies, I’ve been collecting lapel pins on my travels ever since.
But no more! Now I’ve come to a grinding halt. With my recent trip the Canada, Alaska and the US, the coffee is full (I repeat Ghostrider, the patten, err table, is full!). That’s right no more travel for me, unless it is to third world countries where things like souvenir lapel pins are rather hard to come by.