I sadly had to hang up my paddle the other day, and lifted the canoe out of the lake up to its place next to a tree. I hadn’t realised how much I missed canoeing until I got two weeks of it. It gives me more encouragement to undertake a very auspicious challenge of building my own canoe. That would be cool, ay… I woke early on my last day with every intention of going for a run. I was all set, even doing the warmup stretches on the road, but then I thought, “why run, when I can do that anywhere, but I won’t be able to canoe again for a while”. So I went down to the dock and set out. It was beauty! No wind, no other boats, no other people hardly, just me, the birds and the fishes. I was 2 hours. It was a nice way to say farewell to the Czech Republic.
So I had two days in Dresden, a southern city in Saxony Germany, which was part of East Germany until the wall came down in 89 and Germany was united again a few weeks later. It was a place that got absolutely levelled in WW2, perhaps unnecessarily so, towards the end of the war. The scars of this event remain on the buildings, and on the people’s psyche. The buildings are easier to spot, as they had to rebuild 70% of the city so you can clearly see the difference between the old and new stones. The other scars are graffitied onto walls about not forgetting the atrocity, or wanting justice for the war crime as they see it.
Still though, Dresden is a really nice city, one thing I really liked was a long wall of a building with a mural painted depicting all of the Saxon kings in a long parade. Very unique!
I pushed onto Berlin, and to my amused surprise I missed my bus. By mere meters. I gave myself an 40 mins to get there, and the schedule said I’d have 15 mins to spare. I can attest, public transport in Germany being like clockwork is a grand generalisation. But I got to Berlin nonetheless, and thankfully found a nice lady who lent me her internet so I could locate where exactly I was staying. As once again I had been walking the streets in the general area for a good 15 mins.
I like Germany, it’s a shame I had used up most of my time and Euros before I got there. Berlin is a place I had been before actually, I was 19, it was the week before Christmas and cold. It was great then, and great again now. I got to see a bunch of the things I didn’t get to see last time. One thing primarily was the SS museum, or rather its called the Topography of Terror. It is a free museum that tells the brutal truths of the Nazi party, it’s SS, how they managed to gain control of Germany and what they did as a result. I think the most curious thing was, in the first rounds of votes in 1933, they only got 33% of the vote, but in the subsequent votes in the following years that figure was changed to 94% and then 96% (of those that voted mind you.)
It was a very interesting museum. I followed that up by taking in one of the oldest pubs in Berlin, if not the oldest. Apparently Napoleon himself, drank there, so yes, very happy to check that out.
I was able to catch up again with Susi, the German girl I had met in Corinth, later that night for beer and pizza. That was nice, as I got to see my first familiar face in ages. Which I’ll get to later…
The down side to my time in Berlin this time around was it rained all through the next day, which caused flooding and a general state of emergency in a number of places in Berlin. I had planned on checking out a couple of things that day, but they required me to walk a bundle. And in simply walking for my daily coffee I had got completely drenched. So after I went for a miserable run in the rain, I took a lazy day, but still got drenched as I went out that night looking for a craft beer bar.
So yes, It was pointed out to me, whilst sharing a blablacar from Prague to Dresden, that I had been alone these past 3 months. I thought “haha really!?” But apart from the obvious literal aloneness it was rather in all the places I had visited, I knew no one, and thus I was alone by their reckoning. Which is quite true. I knew no one in Japan, Greece, Macedonia and so on and so forth. Everywhere I went I was met by unfamiliar places and faces. Not a single person I recognised. Which I thought was pretty cool.
Sure, travelling solo has its quiet moments, and times of loneliness or rather times when I would have liked to have had people to hang out with, or share random amusing things with. But, the benefits has been I have been able to have a trip I wanted. I wasn’t accountable to anyone, responsible for anyone else, held up or have to negotiate where, when and what I did. I set my on path, and enjoyed nearly every moment of it.
I’ve been thinking about these things recently as I’m transitioning out of the unknown part of my trip to the known. I’m literally doing that now, sitting in my seat 31A, on a rather cloudy Ryan Air flight to Glasgow. Where a good friend from my days in Scotland is waiting to pick me up from the airport. Its hard to be gutted to be moving on, because of all the familiar faces I will get to see in the next 2 and a half months. Some I haven’t seen in 14 years, others it’s only been 6 months. Everywhere I will go from here on there will be someone I know. Quite the transition.
But, that being said, I met a lot of wonderful and cool people over the past 3 months. The helpful ladies when I first touched down in Tokyo, or the fellas in the Japanese baths, or even my hosts where I stayed. I made some really great friends in Greece, Macedonia and Serbia. Some, I got to catch up with again further along in my travels, which was I guess my only familiar faces. Every Workaway I did I met cool people, I met people on buses, trains and at cafes. I met people whilst out for a run, standing in line, on the tram and at the pub. Or sometimes people just randomly arrived on my door step. So yes, there have been moments of aloneness these past 3 months, but also times full of people. And to be fair, I doubt I would have met half of them if I wasn’t travelling solo.