Thursday, 13 June 2024
Englishman in Dubrovnik Englishman in Dubrovnik

Make memories, make as many as you can as often as you can

Written by  Nov 27, 2022

Coming back down to earth is proving harder than hiking the coast of South West England. Back to life, back to reality. Although one colleague did say “Why do you need to come down?”

However tough and challenging (and my knees are still aching) the walk was it also gave us a daily goal. Yes, our days were chaotic but we had a goal each day to walk a certain amount of kilometres. We’d set our minds on that daily target and keep pushing until we reached it.

Now we are home and slowly getting back into the swing of “normal” life we need a new daily goal to focus our minds. The multi-day drive across Europe from the UK back home to the far south of Croatia was like a flash insight into European geopolitics, culture and traditions.


On the road again - Photo Mark Thomas 

The only physical connection between the UK and mainland Europe, the Eurotunnel, is eerily empty and seems like a memorial to times when the links, both with trade and tourism, were stronger. France is flamboyantly French. Agriculture, miles and miles of endless vineyards to crops of all shapes and sizes, is clearly a driving economic force, and the overall gastronomic scene is as strong as ever. We stayed in a picturesque plateau suburb of Dijon that looked like a set from a Alo’ Alo’. Clearly unscathed from any wars it was almost like walking around a model village, like a Monet painting. 

Then under the Alps and the organised chaos of northern Italy, where the amount of industry rivals the vineyards of France. The roads are literally heaving with trucks and the world brands that the Italians have are impressive, from Pirelli to Prada.

A night in the bright lights of Milan and then Trieste, a city that has seemingly made massive improvements and steps into tourism, and then the short green drive over the wilds of Slovenia to the empty roads of Istria and Dalmatia. Travel is certainly the best education. And then home. Back home after over 2 months on the road.


Charming Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 

trieste sunset 2022

Sunset over the canals of Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 

It is great to travel and even nicer to come home. That is what we would normally say. But this time was different. From the moment we put our rucksacks down we were planning our next trip. There is a reason why this project was called Travels with Toto 2022, because there will be a 2023 for sure, and so on and so on. Have we opened a Pandora’s box, we probably already opened that box a long time ago! Travel and adventures are addictive and we are addicts.

We are still floating somewhere on the clouds of euphoria. And a little bit of disbelief that we actually made it, that we walked that far. The only slight problem we have is that we kind of started at the top, with the longest and hardest walk we could find, so everything else will probably seem less challenging. We might need to get a little more creative. We’ve already had friends suggesting routes, apparently there is one that is the longest in the world from north Russia to the southern tip of Africa, and it takes about 3 years to complete. OK, we aren’t doing that one, but we do have a couple of ideas in our plans.

We have come home to a Dubrovnik in Christmas preparations. Getting ready for a New Year. And whilst we were away what changed, well from the looks of it, not much. After not reading Croatian news for 2 months you expect to see something different, something new. Instead I was greeted with Milanović still fighting with Plenković, petrol prices jumping up and down and headlines about the upcoming introduction of the Euro. Cleary I hadn’t missed much. Status quo.

We are now in this dead zone. The summer tourist season, with all its turbulence is behind us. Christmas and the festive period is still a month away. A dead zone that is matched by the weather. So we’ll slowly get back into the routine. We’ve already started to look back through the thousands and thousands of photos and videos that we have. Absolutely priceless. The memories that they invoke will last a lifetime. “Imagine looking at these when we are both grey and wrinkly,” smiled my wife. We’ll probably still have the feeling of “did we really do that.”

Make memories. Make as many as you can. You will never be lonely.


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Read more Englishman in Dubrovnik…well, if you really want to

boba thomas and toto in trieste

Toto on the final leg of his journey in Trieste - Photo Mark Thomas 


The Voice of Dubrovnik


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