London

Hello Everyone! My name is Nadia, and this is my first blog entry. I am 13 years old and I love to travel. Ever since our first sabbatical to Mexico, I have wanted to travel around the world. My goal, when I get older is to explore every continent and experience the different cultures on the planet.

As of now, we are in Poland. I have been flying here every other year since I was 3 years old, so it’s not a new sight. Last week we were in London, and it was beautiful. We haven’t traveled in a long time, so this felt like a breath of fresh air. The sights, the sounds, it was all breathtaking. Since we live in the middle of nowhere, the city was a whole other perspective. Everyone is always going somewhere, and it’s always busy. It’s way more interesting than the country.

In London we went to many museums (of course), and saw the Queen’s palace. Although we couldn’t go inside (obviously), the exterior was artfully designed, and beautifully made. We also visited Greenwich, which is the Prime meridian of the world. A Prime meridian is the line of Longitude that is 0°. This line forms a circle on the earth that divides it into 2 hemispheres, East and West. This line passes through Greenwich, England, France, Spain, Algeria, Mali, Burkina Faso, Togo, Ghana, and Antarctica. There we saw Queen Henrietta Maria’s house, and explored the inside. Everything there was amazing. As we walked around, we got to see the King and Queen’s chambres. The ceilings specifically were amazing. The kings was royal blue with tastefully added gold trim, as the Queens was a mural depicting images from the bible (probably I’m an atheist so I don’t know). Later that day we went to Platform 9 ¾, as I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. Fun fact! I learned that the movies were actually filmed between platforms 3&4, not 9&10 as it is said in the story. It was a great experience, especially for me. We left London the next day.

Since we go to Poland almost every other year, there is no new sights to see. We mostly have just visited family. Throughout this adventure, I hope to learn more about the world, and see the beauty that lies within.

We’re on the Road Again

The morning started like any other day. While a bit hectic, it wasn’t any different from just about any other weekday. We woke up at dawn and started getting ready for the day ahead. Kids dragged out from beds, ate breakfast and left for school. On surface everything seemed normal. Except, we knew it wasn’t. It was a Thursday, and I wasn’t leaving for work…

I quit my job the day before. They said, I left my employer to pursue “personal interests”. I call it a Sabbatical – an extended, unpaid leave of absence. Last time I took one, we spent over a year on the road wandering North America. Now it’s time to show our kids Europe. Like most our trips, the plan is not precisely plotted. We will map our travels as we go. For now, all we know is that our first stop will be London, then a few weeks on the roads of western Europe. We plan to return home in early September with couple of stops on the way back, in Norway and Iceland.

While Nadia was taking her last exam, and Alex trading farewells with his pals, Agnieszka and I were packing and getting the house ready. The flight was supposed to leave Toronto late night, but we needed to get there early to park our car with our Polish friends living in Hamilton. Everything was going relatively smooth. In fact, when I realized that we would be able to leave on time, I became suspicious. That has never happened before! We were about to lock the doors behind us, when I got a text message from Primera Air. It was short, and very clear. And yet I read it three times, disbelief giving way to anger. Our flight was… cancelled!

The text was followed by an email, confirming that the flight was indeed not going to leave Toronto that night. That message also contained some options. One of them was to book a flight with another airline, and seek a refund afterwards. Considering Primera Air’s reputation it was risky decision. Finding four open seats on another flight that same night seemed like mission impossible. And yet, somehow we got lucky! I booked a flight with Air Transat, and a few hours later we boarded the plane, and the next morning disembarked at Gatwick International.

The red eye flight was tiring. Our kids don’t have European passports (yet), so upon arrival we ended up in a non-EU immigration line. That morning several transatlantic flights arrived in London, making the lines crowded and long. Two hours later we caught a train to the city and arrived at the hotel early afternoon. Imagine my irritation when we learned that Priceline sold us a room with two single beds. Calling their customer support was a waste of time, they offered no solution, and no apology. “Josh”, their representative, speaking with heavy Indian accent from an undisclosed location, stated that this is my problem and I should talk to the hotel manager directly. I thanked him for this useless suggestion. Fortunately Chris, the Docklands Lodge hotel manager was able to rectify Priceline’s screw-up and gave us two adjacent, connected rooms.

We spent the next few days exploring London and taking pictures to document our discoveries.

On Tuesday night we boarded yet another cheap ($123.81 for four seats) and Europe’s most (in)famous airline, Ryanair. Despite horror stories about their services, we have no reasons to complain. Even though our departure was slightly delayed, the flight was uneventful and we arrived in Katowice (Poland) on time. I would even say that the flight comfort was very much comparable, if not higher than most american airlines.

Today, we are at my father’s house getting ready for the next chapter of our journey. I sincerely hope to not be the sole scribe of those travel records, and that Nadia, and Alex will use this journal to share their impressions of Europe with their friends back home.