‘I do miss the quiet Sun­days in UK, it seems we Bri­tons work seven days a week’

Yorkshire Post - Business - - FRONT PAGE - Griselda To­gobo

It’s been a gor­geous sum­mer this year. The heat­wave may not have been great for the land and its farm­ers, but it’s been absolutely amaz­ing for the sun wor­ship­pers amongst us, my­self in­cluded. In­spired by the weather, my sis­ters and I de­cided the time was ripe to go on a Euro­pean road trip with our fam­i­lies. We fig­ured as Brexit draws closer, now is the mo­ment to take ad­van­tage of the free move­ment we Bri­tons can still en­joy and make the most of the UK’s mem­ber­ship of the Euro­pean Union whilst it lasts.

We hired a nine-seater van, piled our chil­dren in­side and set off for an ad­ven­ture. The kids were in­cred­i­bly ex­cited – keen to ex­pe­ri­ence dif­fer­ent cul­tures - as well as prac­tice their French and Ger­man.

I have to ad­mit, I was a bit ap­pre­hen­sive about the trip; es­pe­cially with the on­go­ing global refugee cri­sis and the hos­til­ity to­wards refugees at most bor­ders. Would we, a bus full of Bri­tish cit­i­zens with African her­itage, be mis­taken for il­le­gal im­mi­grants? Would we draw un­wanted at­ten­tion or be iden­ti­fied as refugees? It’s amaz­ing what the mind can con­jure up when it’s crowded with fear. We dis­cussed the pos­si­bil­ity and tried to laugh it off – but the threat felt real and was never far from our minds.

I re­mem­ber all too well the days of visas and bor­der checks. The ques­tions I faced when ap­ply­ing for a visa, the fur­ther round of in­ter­ro­ga­tion I had to en­dure at se­cu­rity when I trav­elled, never failed to fill me with dread. I don’t miss those days.

But we de­cided we were up for the chal­lenges trav­el­ling can present.

Our jour­ney would take us from the UK through to France and Ger­many, then on to Switzer­land and back up through Bel­gium and the Nether­lands. Al­though I have been lucky enough to travel to all of the coun­tries we planned to visit sev­eral times, this road trip was a real eye-opener.

Driv­ing through each coun­try gave us some true in­sight into the cul­ture and econ­omy of each des­ti­na­tion. The buzz, ac­tiv­ity and speed of Ger­many were in com­plete con­trast to the qui­eter roads of France and Bel­gium.

Switzer­land was by far the most ex­pen­sive coun­try we vis­ited. The cost of liv­ing in Switzer­land is astro­nom­i­cal! A por­tion of chips at a reg­u­lar ke­bab shop cost close to €5! I must say though, the ke­bab shop in Zurich was sit­ting on the finest piece of real es­tate, with a beau­ti­ful view of Lake Zurich.

It was won­der­ful to see that Sun­day was still re­served as a rest day across Europe, with most busi­nesses closed, giv­ing fam­i­lies the time to switch off to­gether. I do miss the quiet Sun­days in the UK, it seems we Bri­tons work seven days a week now.

It was a truly mem­o­rable trip. We ex­pe­ri­enced no is­sues across any of the coun­tries we vis­ited. My fear was un­jus­ti­fied.

This got me think­ing. Some­times we are held back by our own per­cep­tions and fear rather than re­al­ity and facts. This sum­mer and the road trip has re­minded me to chal­lenge longheld per­cep­tions that may be hold­ing me back from try­ing new things. There is in­deed a world of op­por­tu­nity out there if you can be coura­geous enough to face it.

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