Travel report 2015


Göttingen, December 2015

This year I travelled four times between June and September to Great Britain, more precisely to London, on behalf of a North German company. It was the ninth consecutive year that I worked as a tour guide for the company.

London, the most populous city in Europe, the capital of the United Kingdom and a vibrant world metropolis. People from all over the world live in London and contribute to making London a truly international and exciting city.

For me, preparations for a trip start months in advance. I read books, visit websites, and above all talk to people who live in the travel area. This gives me an up-to-date picture of the destination. This also applies to London. What are the inhabitants occupied with, what kind of exhibitions are going on, what concerts are playing in the city during the stay, what does a bus ticket cost? And yet you can't know everything, and that's what makes a trip so exciting, especially the things that happen spontaneously. For example the encounter with a local one evening in front of a real estate agent's window in North Greenwich, whose first sentence was: "You're to blame!". "I'm to blame?", I asked and he said: "Yes, you're to blame, mate!", and getting straight to the point, he told me about the difficulties the average Londoner has in finding affordable accommodation, whether to buy or rent. As he continued, without pausing for breath, he jabbed me in the shoulder area several times with his index finger. Rich investors, no relationship to London, it's only about money, no more a city for average Joes, communism, capitalism and and and! What a meeting, and all I had planned for that evening was to enjoy a bag of chips with salt and vinegar from the local takeaway.

Or the ongoing crisis with the refugees. June to July is the beginning of "The Silly Season" in Great Britain, the time when parliament is no longer in session, and the newspapers and reporters report on everything to be able to report on anything at all. This year in the UK in June the attacks of killer seagulls were the number one topic. Yes, Prime Minister Cameron declared the war on seagulls to be a matter for no one else but himself. The killer seagulls even temporarily suppressed the reports on the situation of the refugees in Calais. The route for my bus trips to London goes through the Ruhr area, the Netherlands, Belgian (principally Flanders) and France to the Channel Tunnel. I have taken the route many times and have had some nerve wracking experiences at the Channel Tunnel. This year was no exception. The first outward journey to London through the tunnel went quite well. Weeks before that, the British press had been reporting daily about how people were trying again and again to stowaway on board trucks in order to get to Great Britain. The return journey to Germany also went quite well until we arrived in France after passing through the tunnel. Striking dock workers there had begun to erect barricades on the access roads, and refugees had tried to use the resulting chaos to try to get to Britain. Long before it was the number one topic in the German news, the governments of France and Britain were confronted with the refugee dilemma. The answer was security, security, and more security. Every time I went to London, the picture at the Channel Tunnel terminal in France changed fundamentally: Barbed wire, more barbed wire and more barbed wire; fences, more fences and more fences; all the trees and bushes have been removed so that there is no way to hide. Now that I am writing this report in December, everything we read about refugees in Western Europe four or five months ago seems nothing compared to what the European and world communities have to cope with today.

There was also a short holiday in Ireland in August, consisting of a some pleasant days in Bray in the county of Wicklow (dubbed the Garden of Ireland), south of Dublin, and a few nice days in the legendary Cooley Peninsula, where one highlight was the random discovery of a pub that really deserved the title Irish Pub. Shortly after our arrival from Brú na Bóinne, Don, the landlord of our holiday home, said that we could spend our first evening in the village of Carlingford, or visit a pub about 15 minutes from the house. "Take the main road, first right, third left, next right, past the ruins of the church, next left, shortly after left again and there you will find it". Well, we found it and it was worth it. Far and wide only fields and the Irish Sea, a crossroads and there was the pub. Before we saw it, we heard it, because music came towards us as we approached. Outside whitewashed, inside tiny, two musicians in a corner, a bar and not enough room to swing the proverbial cat.

If you have any questions about my work as a tour guide, or if you would like to book me as a language teacher and travel companion for an educational holiday, please contact me, preferably by e-mail: