Saturday, October 1, 2011

My Spontaneous Decision to Leave the UK

The only problem I experienced while at Riverside had nothing to do with the workaway experience or the host family. I started feeling restless again. I’ve experienced this nearly overwhelming urge of wanderlust for the last year, hence my hurried escape to this side of the pond mere days after graduating. I thought this feeling would disappear after I came over here. It did, for a little bit. But now I’ve become used to England and I feel like I want to see more. I started feeling restless while in Bath, but I could get around it by going into the city and finding new things to see. When I went into the remote countryside at Riverside it became nearly unbearable. I wanted to go. It’s not like I was being called somewhere or I had this feeling that I needed to see something in particular. It was more that I needed to see more than I was, almost like I was wasting time. I honestly couldn’t ignore it anymore.

I got on couchsurfing and searched for hosts in the nearest city, Exeter. I found a prospective host named Sean and popped him a couchsurf request for the Friday of my weekend off. I also searched around on forums in couchsurfing for people who are traveling abroad.

I stumbled on this one forum regarding couchsurfers seeking companions in their travels. On a whim I posted a message asking if any experienced travelers were going to the main European continent during the month of October and wanted company. Within twenty-four hours a few people had replied. Some were leaving the next week, so I didn’t even look at their profiles. A few girls were going to Germany and then back to London starting October 1st, but I wanted to see more of Europe than that.

One guy in particular said that he and his friend were leaving for Lithuania on Sep 26th, but if I wanted to join them they could wait for me there. Their plan was to travel through the Eastern European countries via couchsurfing, bus riding, train, hiking, and hitching. They had no definite route and said they would love company. I contacted Toby, the guy who replied to my message, and had a chat with him. Surprisingly he was located in a town twenty minutes away! We chatted for a few hours and decided to meet up in Crediton (a nearby town) the next evening. However, he contacted me later and told me he couldn’t make it due to a family matter. So we set up to meet on Friday in Exeter, the day I was going to couchsurf with Sean. I was really excited. The thought of traveling through Europe and seeing and experiencing as much as I could definitely appealed to me. I wanted to make sure Toby wasn’t a creeper first though.

On Friday I packed an overnight bag and Ann took me up to the bus station in Nomansland. My plan was to meet Toby and talk to him about traveling, and then meet Sean afterward and see some of the city before staying the night on his couch. I would spend Saturday exploring more of the city and then either request to sleep on Sean’s couch again or travel back to the farm if he turned out to be a creeper.

Toby met me at the bus station in Exeter. We immediately hit it off. He’s very funny and instantly made me feel comfortable. He was courteous, polite, and completely mindful of the oddity of the situation. However, he was also entirely comfortable with it. He took me to a nearby food place and bought me a Cornish pasty. Not pastry – pasty. It’s almost like a flaky, less greasy, way tastier hot pocket. It was amazing.

After that we went to one of his favorite pubs to get acquainted and talk about travels. We had already been chatting online for a couple of days about things, but it was essential for me to get a real sense of him. We spent a few hours in that pub talking. It was great. We shared stories about where we had been and what we had seen. Toby has traveled all over SE Asia and Australia. We also talked about the trip to Eastern Europe and what he wanted to do and whether my goals would mesh well with his plans. Everything really fit together kind of perfectly.

I asked about Toby’s friend Jevan, the other person we were going to be traveling with. Toby said Jevan has traveled with him before and that they’re best friends, but that it looked like Jevan might not be joining us for a few weeks. He was supposed to fly out a few days after Toby, but he had called Toby that morning and said he couldn’t afford the plane ticket just yet. So for the first leg it would just be me and Toby. He told me a little more and showed me Jevan’s facebook and the messages they had sent to each other in the last few days. It looked legit and I wasn’t getting any kind of bad vibe from Toby. Toby’s couchsurfing profile also has tons of good reviews from both male and female couchsurfers that had traveled and stayed with him. I decided this guy was okay.

I know most of you are probably thinking that this seems incredibly risky. You’re right. But the biggest lesson I’ve learned on this trip is that the world has an overwhelming amount of nice, good people. This doesn’t mean I’m blindly trusting Toby. However, I want to see more of Europe and I would forever regret it if I didn’t take this opportunity. I have enough money saved still that I can get myself a ticket back to Scotland and Alicia if things don’t work out like I want them to.

I booked a plane ticket for Kaunas, Lithuania on October 1st. It was only $80. I bought a rucksack and some gear. Our plan is to begin in Lithuania and work our way down to Turkey in about a month and a half, in time for me to be back in England on November 15th to workaway in Bath at the B&B again. I’m excited and hopeful and I can’t wait to begin. Hopefully this will be a life-changing adventure.

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