Friday, November 11, 2005

Day [-8] : A journey of a thousand miles

“Your visa is ready madam,” the bespectacled travel agent shuffled the papers importantly. I wrinkled my nose at the strong smell of roach repellent and stared straight ahead at the laminated partitions. I had sprained my neck badly the previous night - staring straight ahead was the only option. Neck is probably the worst place to get a sprain. I was moving about like a badly programmed robot and was generally getting odd looks. I peered at the visa and murmured “multiple entry” to show this was not my first trip abroad and I knew all about visas. Till that moment of seeing the visa, I had thought of the UK trip, thanks to a good deal from British Airways and a gift, rather abstractedly. Now it looked like I was really going. “And where might that be?” a cockroach quirked his antenna from behind a paper.

“Do you have any brochures?” I asked realizing my itinerary was as blank as my stare.

“Just search for it in the internet,” he responded helpfully.

Right. Internet.

After hunting for a good map of the UK and a trip planner in the net for half an hour I gave up. There wasn’t an app to match the folded old-fashioned paper map. I spread it up and armed with a highlight pen and google search, I went to work. I plotted my route, weaved lines, highlighted areas, drew circles, put question marks and was quite proud of the research I was putting in.

The world maps one is used to, skews up the country sizes quite a bit. I knew this, but still when I actually looked at the distance it was a bit of a shock. It looked like Great Britain would fit into just four states in South India. Yet, the Brits definitely know how to promote their island. How could they possibly have so many specialty tours for such a small place.

Jane austen tour, Da vinci code tour, Cotswolds, A train ride in Scotland, Roman ruins, Medieval castles, Victorian mansions, Bronte sisters tour, Harry potter tour, Cricket tour..

A renaissance person like me (Ahem) wasn't going to get tied to one specialty tour. After an hour, quite a considerable achievement considering my sprained neck, I had a map with bright highlighter lines running criss-cross all over the country.
One minor problem. I just needed about a month and unlimited money in my bank account. I actually had about ten days (I decided to worry about the money part later). Oh well, I’d have to pick and choose as I go along.

I stared at the map, folded it carefully and listened to the torrential rain pouring outside. UK here I come.

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