Tuesday, 19 June 2012

Invading Europe

is a rite of passage for many young Downunderites. Of course they also invade Asia, particularly the beaches of Bali and Thailand, and North America. The more adventurous make it to South America and Africa. A few, really brave adventurers, head into the Himalaya or across the Gobi desert or into the Atlas mountains. Take your pick. The world is there to be explored.
My two youngest nephews have just gone to Germany. It is the start of a six week adventure for them. They would like longer but medicine and law studies make that difficult. I hope that they might both get work experience in the United Kingdom so they can do more travel later but, in the meantime, they are going to make the most of it. Their itinerary is packed. They might not manage it all but I have no doubt they will manage most of it.
Their mother went to Europe in her early twenties. She backpacked with a friend. Later she and her husband spent almost six months travelling through Europe. As my sister says they were young and fit then. They hired a small car and they used it as their accommodation as well as their transport. My sister looks back in amazement at the way they managed to do it and where they managed to go. They went behind the old Iron Curtain long before it was considered safe to do so.
When they did it other young Australians were doing "the overland trip". That was the long bus trip from Kathmandu to London. Back then it was a trip which took courage. You had to be willing to rough it and get along with a group of your fellow citizens as well as risk the roads and illness and other dangers. Now it is considered much too dangerous. The areas you once travelled through are now war zones.
Contact was limited to expensive long distance telephone calls, letters and post cards.
Our parents waited anxiously to hear from my sister. The Senior Cat still worries any time a member of the family is travelling. My sister is much more relaxed about it. Communication is virtually instantaneous these days. You can 'phone. There is Facebook. There is Skype. There is e-mail. There are even letters and postcards.
And there are friends. I opened my personal e-mail this morning to a message from my good friend Holly. The two boys are spending a few days with her family first. It is very kind and brave of her to allow herself to be invaded - and to let us know that the first young one (they travelled separately) had landed.
Modern communication is marvellous for times like this!

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