Fairytale Trip Comes True

July 22, 2015

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Not in my wildest dreams would I have thought that something like this could ever be true. This journey, undertaken by a group of six from Interchange Outer East, was like a fairy story for me. The journey would take us far and wide throughout the country side and cities of the United Kingdom and then on to Paris. The trip went from May 16  till June 2 and took us north, up the west side of England into Wales and Scotland followed by a quick train ride back down to London and then another train over to Paris.  The traveling family included Adele, Monica, Jack and Tristan, with Kimberly Hannett and me (Daniel Ratnayake).  The following are just some of my reflections of the U.K. road trip part of the holiday.

Our journey began with an eventful 12 hour flight that became 16 hours long due to an emergency landing in Perth because of a medical emergency on board. As a result we missed our connecting flight to the U.K. but we were put in a 5 star hotel in Qatar for a few hours whilst we waited for our replacement flight! After this slight interruption, we finally arrived in the U.K. then headed off on our road trip, journeying through the countryside and stopping and admiring the many abbeys, ancient shires and towns like Bath, Windsor – where we walked around its famous castle, Gloucestershire plus so much more.  The scenery was beautiful with changing landscapes of thatched roof cottages, farms with grey stone wall fences and always green, green grass with even greener grass on the other side of the road. We discovered that roundabouts were a never ending cause of pain, grief and a feeling of “I think we are lost”. Driving and navigating through foreign lands proved difficult but enjoyable. It created a sense of discovery and adventure.

The six of us got into a daily routine of enjoying the lovely buffet breakfasts, then jumping into our van for a drive to our next, new destination. We passed the time on the long drives with a mixture of sleep catch up, photo stops and general chit chat with new and close relationships developing between the travelers.  Our new experiences were not confined to what we saw. We were never ever shy of trying new things to eat and drink and made local pubs a regular for meal stops, where we indulged in classic British foods. We learned that the pubs were a big part of British history and culture and we often ate in pubs which dated back to the 15th Century.

Wales was a short but very, very memorable stop on our journey. We stayed in a place that resembled Faulty Towers and soon realized there is a distinct difference between the Welsh and the English!  Highway signs and town names were also unpronounceable!

On our road trip we not only experienced heaps but learned lots as well.  Along the way we made frequent memorable stops to places like the ancient city of Bath, Stonehenge, Snowdonia Lake, Windermere and so many more places. We visited and climbed to the tops of many abbeys and cathedrals to see views that cannot be adequately described in words. In Edinburgh we visited yet another castle, staying to take part in its scary goose bump creating ghost tour which scared many of us right out of our skin!

Throughout the trip we often referred to ourselves as a family. We were a family of 6 different and interesting members who were exited, happy,  knowledgeable,  joyful, brave, determined and willing to try new things and go out of our comfort zones.

I am just so grateful to IOE for giving me the opportunity to be a part of such an amazing experience. It has meant so much to me.  A fairytale come true.

By Daniel Ratnayake

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