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