The Journey Begins.

Stroud Travel Blog

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I’m not a stranger to international travel and nor am I a stranger to staring at the face of adversity.  Whether it was Indonesia, Australia or Sri Lanka obstacles along the way have always stopped my travels from going to play.  Whether it be terrorism, money, time, flights, health or my grandma trying to persuade me that actually Rodborough has more to offer than meets the eye and maybe I should stay here and holiday instead, the road has never been smooth.  And now once again as Sam and I embark on the most action packed and hectic experience of our lives, more things stand in our way.  The specifics are irrelevant but needless to say we have every intention on making our 06:25 flight to Berlin on Thursday morning.

Both Sam and I have a love of travelling and our latest expedition has been in the planning stages for 18 months and at last the moment to saddle up and say goodbye is upon us.  Our route is set…

Berlin – Munich – Vienna – Prague – Krakow – Warsaw – (Back to Berlin Airport) – Moscow – St Petersburg – Tallinn.

When we started planning we we’re both adamant about visiting Morocco.  But we were also desperate to go to Russia.  With a distance of over 4800 miles separating the two we conceded that it was not going to be possible.  As you can guess, we opted for Russia.  It fitted with our plan to take in Eastern Europe rather that the West – and it also gives us an excuse to come back next year!  

Why Eastern Europe?  Simply put, it fascinates me (and Sam of course!).  I find it incredible that by going such a short distance east you quickly leave behind the trimmings and multiculturalism of Western life and arrive at an explosion of culture and history that overwhelms the unsuspecting tourist.  And it is this difference that makes travel so important.  We live in a Western Euro-centric world where we see the East as backwards or at best, lagging behind us politically, economically and socially.  However, by taking in these places we see a wealth that lies hidden under the surface.  Travelling allows us to explore, and as we do we develop a new understanding.  It opens our eyes to an unknown world – corny as that sounds – and expands are awareness of cultures, traditions, history – the very lives of people living in other parts of the world.  Going to a resort abroad for two weeks and sitting by the pool scarcely counts as travel.  Just as there is a difference between hearing and listening, so there is a difference between holidaying and travelling.   

And so the excitement begins!  I thought I would give a few thoughts about each of the places I will be travelling to over the next 28 days so that I can see if my expectations or stereotypes have been met or eradicated.

Berlin – Colourful, bright, exciting, busy, oozing with culture and history blended with and incredibly varied city nightlife.
Munich – More city like, like Manchester more than London.  Berlin but slightly less exciting and showy.  
Vienna – Refined, dignified, stylish, amazing architecture.
Prague – Absinth!  1 litre of beer for 50p.  Tradition, history, culture.
Krakow – Amazing scenery, views, monuments, beauty, rich culture.
Warsaw – The split between East and West.  Multiculturalism meets the shadow of communist Russia.
Moscow - Communist, revolutionary Russia.  Amazing architecture.  A unique history.  Vodka!  Mix of new Russia – old meets new.
St Petersburg – More vodka.  More revolution.  More stunning cities.   
Tallinn - I have no expectation.  We’re only going here as its cheap to fly home!     
 
Over the next month we will take in 6 counties, 9 different cities, travel by air, bus, train, bikes and feet, and cover just under 5000 miles from start to finish.  What an adventure!

My plan is to keep a blog from at least every country we go to.  If I have a bit more time I’ll try to write some more to keep you all updated.  It will also be great for me to look back on at the end of trip and in the future to reflect upon everything once back home.  

Armed with our inter rail passes, credit cards and underwear we will fly first to Berlin on the 06:25 from London Standsted on 19th July.  See you there!
 
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Stroud
photo by: samsmith_ndt