In these days of modern travel, something I’ve done since my first trip over 20 years ago, is compare where I started the day when the sun rose, to where I ended when the sun set.
It feels beyond comprehension that I can begin the day buying English Breakfast tea bags in London, yet finish the day swimming in the Okavango Delta whilst looking at elephants and giraffe. Especially, when you consider what an ordeal it was to travel these same distances before commercial planes existed. We’re talking about the best part of a year and only in one direction!
I was 22 the first time I experienced this after joining my sister on a trip through the Middle East. We travelled on the red-eye flight from chilly London, leaving red phone boxes and black taxis, and arrived into the Cairo desert metropolis on the same day. Two countries with vastly different history, cultures, value systems, language and religion. Yet here we were, less than 12 hours after leaving Heathrow airport, scrambling through the Pyramids of Giza, sweating from 40 degree heat. How is this even possible?
Another time, I was lucky enough to have four seats to myself on an overnight flight from London to Cape Town. I slept the entire way and woke up in Africa. Now, I don’t mean just the northern tip, I’m talking about the very bottom of the continent. I left a country with the world’s most ethnically diverse demographics, and woke up in a country with the one of the harshest documented racial histories on planet earth. Mind blown! Case closed! Next!
I guess with air travel being as accessible in society, the modern world has become a smaller place. There is no ‘off-the-beaten-track’ anymore and everywhere you do go, you’ll meet an Australian. Travel has become as easy task. When I visited Antarctica, I didn’t fly but I did jump on a boat and arrived two days later and yes, there were Aussies on board. Am I the only one who thinks this world of modern travel is absolutely astounding?
Most recently, I started my day in Churchill, Canada’s northern Arctic. On the way to the airport to fly home, I saw Polar Bears and the temperature was -30 degrees. That is cold enough to throw a cup of hot water and have it freeze before hitting the ground. Within 24 hours, I was back in London where the temperature was a balmy 12 degrees and the only wildlife were urban rats, scavenging leftover McDonalds wrappers. Talk about two polar opposite experiences (no pun intended).
We live in a truly incredible world where we can jump on a plane to see wildlife, instead of locking them up in zoos. When if the outside temperature is too hot or cold, we can change it with only a ticket and passport, and when we tire of the desert, we can head for a tropical beach on the same day.
Am I the only one who thinks this is fascinating? In truth, I’m not even sure how planes get off the ground, but now we have Wi-Fi, a meal and a movie around the same altitude as Mount Everest!
I’ll leave you with a few facts from when we used to travel in Victoria times. This gives you some idea of how far we’ve come and how astounding it is when we can hit the recline button, sleep and just wait to pop up somewhere around the world.
So from London to Glasgow during Victorian times.
In modern times, it takes 4 hours and 33 minutes by train.
Train: 32 hours or a day and a half. Given Victorian pleasure preferences, I assume it would probably have taken two full days on a sleeper train
By horse: 105 hrs or 4 full days. However, with resting each night and other stops, it would probably take a little over 8 days
By horse at top speed: 49 hours (twice switching mounts). By increasing this time to 60 hours to allow the horse a break, that’s 2.5 full days. Adding in overnights to sleep, a fast messenger would arrive at the end of day three with a very tired horse indeed.
Happy travelling folks.