(Written Friday 23rd January 2015)
I'm writing this post on a train. Somewhere in the Netherlands.
Three weeks into 2015, and I'm off on what I like to describe as a "mini grand tour of Europe '.
I started planning this trip on a whim back in the summer of 2014 after the wedding celebrations of one of my best school friends. She now lives in the Netherlands with her husband (it still feels weird saying that!) And I realised when, we were all sitting in her parents' back garden just how much I miss her. Over the next few months, we caught up on life via Facebook and Skype, and by October we had decided I should go and visit.
At the same time, I had been chatting to my friend Helen, who I have known for 10 years (we went on a trip to Iceland with Girlguiding Cymru together). Helen lives in Paris, a city that I have wanted to go back to since my last visit seven years ago, so when the possibility of a trip to mainland Europe came up, I figured I could combine the two cities into one trip.
Conveniently, my birthday is at the end of January, and I do not like January. That, plus the need to use the rest of this year's annual leave, plus a large number of Nectar Points, east coast rail vouchers and hotels.com points, made it surprisingly easy to book an 8 day holiday. Add a day in Brussels and a weekend in London into the mix, and I'm all set.
So here I am at the start of this mini adventure. I've survived the nightmare that is Edinburgh Airport's new security checks (basically a large cattle shed with automatic barriers that need to be staffed because they don't work, so those of us who used up the last of our printer ink printing our boarding cards at home had to queue for 20 minutes to get new boarding cards printed. I'm not at all angry. Nope.) I've downed 2 litres of liquid to avoid having to throw it away on my way into said cattle shed (and regretted it 2 hours later when the plane spent longer taxi-ing down the runway at Schipol airport than the whole rest of the flight). I've even managed to pack for a week in hand luggage (and we all know how much I dislike packing)!
All I have left to do now is work out where I'm supposed to get off this train...