Sunday, 26 August 2012

Leaving London - Baggage Issues and Train Seats

We finally said all our goodbyes last week and are on our way.  We do however have limited access to the internet and it really does feel like we have left our old lives behind for now.  We are currently lazing about in our hotel in Cologne waiting for the rain to stop before dumping our baggage at left luggage and exploring the city before catching our overnight train to Warsaw this evening at 10.28pm.

We did not pack until Thursday morning which Paul now feels was a mistake.  While he was able to convince me to ditch a pair of flip flops, sandals and pumps, along with most of our travel books he was not able to persuade me to leave behind any of the soap or solid shampoo.  The latter is, in itself a space saver, except when you consider I have packed enough to see us through until the end of the year.  Toiletries are said to be particularly expensive and (in my defence) a bottle each of shampoo and conditioner would take up as much space as the solid stuff and, at this stage at any rate, I cannot be persuaded. 

This will change, I have no doubt about that.  Our bags are heavy and bulky.  However, I challenge anyone to sift through our bags and find very much that can be discarded.  We are taking few clothes and much of what is taking up space cannot be sacrificed.  My medication for the trip (anti epileptic medication) would take up a whole day pack.  Malaria meds and generic antibiotics as well as a very small first aid kit do not in isolation take up much room but when you try to stuff it into a rucksack, it all looks and feels a bit heavy.  We do not have jackets – we have a fleece each and rain ponchos which are neatly squashed into small bags.  The electronic cables and plugs also take up their own space.  The list goes on. 

The reality is that we are on a long trip, through lots of different countries where the climate is likely to range from very cold (around freezing in Russia and Mongolia at night) to very warm in south east Asia. Everything we own is with us on this trip and psychologically this is clearly an issue for me in particular.   Clothes and stuff can be bought along the way but medication and toiletries will eat into our budget significantly.  So, at this very early stage, I am prepared to march around with my overstuffed backpack until my legs and back scream at me to get the better of my stubborn streak. 

The Journey So Far

A little about our journey so far.  We started on Thursday leaving from Hounslow West Tube Station and headed towards Penge where we spent our last night in the UK with friends (thanks Suzi and Sean) before leaving from Penge, changing at Herne Hill, for London St Pancras.

The Eurostar seats were not inspiring, particularly in view of the fact that the reason we opted for train travel was to avoid tiny aircraft seats unsuitable for someone of Paul’s frame!  Indeed it did not bode well when Paul's first words after lodging himself into his seat are "blimey, the seats are bigger on a plane".  But the journey to Brussels was a little over 2 hours and bearable.  The journey from Brussels to Cologne was just under 2 hours and we sat in a compartment which was much more comfortable.  We both dozed on and off and therefore have nothing to report about the journey itself although, to be fair, when I did open my eyes, the scenery wasn’t much different from that we passed in east London and Kent and so really not much to write home about, literally!

Cologne itself is a lovely little city with an amazing and imposing cathedral of huge proportions.  It is right next to the railway station and, of course, covered in scaffolding.  This is generally to be expected when I visit a tourist attraction and I’ve just got used to it.  My timing sucks.  Scaffolding on a major tourist attraction simply lends itself to the authenticity of the landmark.  Although, my travelling companion has just informed me that they are always cleaning the cathedral stone because it darkens at a faster rate than they than clean it.

Paul is consuming bratwurst and sauerkraut like it’s going out of fashion and German beer is indeed as good as we remember from our visit to Nuremberg on our honeymoon in June 2010.
We shall spend the day exploring Cologne and then head back to the railway station for our first overnight train trip.  And I shall be checking my bags to see whether Paul has managed to discard anything while I am not looking, although I suspect I will pretend not to notice and enjoy the fact that my back is not breaking under the strain.  I just can’t let go…yet!




  1. I comment merely to say that i am following this with great interest, I get updated when you post so keep at it even if all seems quiet here.

    I'm sure I'm not the only one keeping an eye on the ramblings of my rambling friends.

  2. Nope, I am watching eagerly as well :)

  3. Ha - what a weird feeling! Will try to keep it interesting :-). Can't believe that in all our preparations we didn't both to find out how to say even "hello" in Polish. Oh well, only one more day to survive in lovely Warsaw.