Onwards and upwards
They say that all good things must come to an end. Personally, I’ve never really understood that. I mean if something is a good thing, shouldn’t it go on an on, for ever?
And yet here I am, in chilly Helsinki, transformed by a thick blanket of snow into a shimmering winter wonderland, getting ready to say goodbye to all of that.
It’s been quite a ride, these last two months. I’ve travelled more widely, intensively and exhaustingly than I have since I backpacked my way across Europe and the Middle East to India back when I was 17.
I’ve been to places I’ve wanted to see for ages, Shanghai’s Bund, Mr. Lloyd-Wright’s Imperial Hotel, Granada’s Alhambra. I’ve met old friends in Hong Kong, Tokyo, New York, Madrid and Carmona and made new ones in Stockholm, Copenhagen and St. Petersburg and Osaka.
I’ve lost my heart on a daily basis to more beautiful people and places than I can remember. I’ve eaten and drunk my fill; okonomiyake, bao buns and reindeer steak, white tea, green tea and red, sparkling wines and languorous red wines. I’ve shivered in howling winds in St. Petersburg, crunched through the snow in Helsinki, basked in the sticky, sub-tropical heat of Hong Kong and floated serenely under starry night skies in hot spring water in Hakone.
It’s been amazing, overwhelming and more than a little surreal. Blasting through time zones and temperature changes at 800 kilometres an hour, 12,000 metres above the earth. I have felt, at times, like an immortal, at others, a 1000 years old. But it is beautiful, and fascinating our world and travelling it is always a privilege.
I hope you have enjoyed my journey and trust that you will forgive me, in retrospect, if I have occasionally (perhaps more than occasionally) rambled on for too long, or indulged in passions that weren’t your own.
My thanks to you all for reading and for commenting. It is always better not to write in a vacuum and your thoughts and insights have often triggered ideas of my own.
My thanks to Finnair for choosing four people they didn’t know from Adam and then putting their global network at their disposal. That was a braver act than any of us, even now, can fully appreciate.
Finally, my thanks to the dedicated, welcoming and yes, slightly crazy crew at Myltton, who dreamed up this magnificent adventure and then sold the idea to Finland’s national carrier.
My hat is off to all of you.
*Here’s to you, Douglas Adams