Although I managed to doze for an hour or so it was a long night and I was more than glad to have a quick wash, clean my teeth and make the long way down to the gate for the Heathrow Express. At least the Interrail Pass includes that without a surcharge. I was surprised how many people were waiting at 5am to get on the shuttle to 4&5.
The 6.08 is almost empty and it arrives on the dot which means I can just catch the Exmouth train with 2 minutes to spare. It’s full of teenagers and for a moment I have to check that I am not on the wrong one.
After Topsham the Estuary comes into view and I can finally believe that I have made it back.
It’s a few days now since my return, and my own world that I had been in for over two weeks has had to settle into a vstly different landscape. One that threatens to change totally and that will not return to wht wwe had come to take for granted.
I have been through eight countries, talked to a lot of people, come to understand better what happened in the post-Yugoslavia wars. I have also seen a lot of cultural treasures, particularly Secessionist/ Art Nouveau, that reflects the strong post-Ottoman Austrian influence. I have eaten a lot of ( mostly) good food, courtesy of the Turkish presence for four hundred years.
Apart from the last night I have stayed in comfortable, friendly and welcoming accommodation. The trains ran pretty much on time and generally on the days they were supposed to.
A last memory of something that in retrospect is moving and leaves thought for contemplation on humanity. It’s the translation of the Will of a rich merchant in Sarajevo that pretty much speaks for itself
Was it all worth it? During the planning stage I had my doubts. Interrail customer service is appalling and their App almost useless. And it was only having it to get back from Heathrow (£120!) that stopped it being a very poor deal in money terms.
Despite the trauma of getting home in a rush, I would say yes I’m glad I went. I watch the people currently stranded in Majorca and wonder how they ever manage to cross the road.
I can’t imagine I will ever go back to finish the missing bits in Sofia and Edirne, but there are other fish to fry elsewhere. I have not yet stepped foot in Africa.
Thank you all for keeping me company. Your comments and asides are enormously encouraging and it is good to know you are out there somewhere.
All that remains is to work out how to stop the spammers leaving their trail of debris on the blog.
Bye for now