I appreciate how fortunate I am.
I studied hard, worked hard, put in the 16 hours days, and have yielded some of the rewards for doing so. A big part of these rewards was being asked to relocate from Melbourne to Bristol, UK for three years (2005-2008). Whilst I originally declined the offer (twice), I ended up accepting it as there was no good reason not to. Whilst the work was extremely challenging and required incredibly long hours, I made a commitment to keep my weekends for me and to do as much travelling as I could fit in and afford. I aimed for a weekend trip every six weeks and based my travels on EasyJet’s cheapest flights.
I did over 70 trips whilst I was over there, and each cost me roughly the same as a big night out. You see, flights with EasyJet from Bristol to just about anywhere in Europe were rarely more than 60 quid… return… including all taxes. In fact, many of my trips were only £30 quid with the cheapest one was to Rome (return) for only £20! Oh, how I miss EasyJet…
I love walking, and that was how I got around each city I visited. Hostels and Pensiones are normally right in the heart of cities so they always made a good base. Walking allowed me to get into the fabric of each city and to absorb the culture the best way I could. It allowed me to soak up the architecture, street art, laneway art galleries, and to see things that trains, buses, and taxis don’t go near.
I also have Portuguese blood somewhere way back in my genealogy; just enough to give it me some Portuguese facial features. As the Portuguese travelled a lot back in the day, the benefit of having some Portuguese blood is that I looked Italian when in Italy, Spanish when in Spain, French when in France, Portuguese when in Portugal and Dutch when in the Netherlands. The detriment of this was that the locals always responded to me in the local language!
My assignment to Bristol gave me the opportunity to see some of the world’s great galleries; both big and small. It is too difficult to choose a favourite gallery, but the Uffizi in Florence will always hold a special place for me as the city of Florence is in itself a living, breathing art gallery.