TAILS OF A TRAVELLING CAT
Greetings, humans! Today is our last day – how can time have gone so quickly? Just yesterday we were waking up to the Alps rising above us and sitting by the water of Lake Geneva.
We packed up our little room. I failed to mention yesterday that the toilet is next door and didn’t have a light which made using it in the dark last night interesting for the humans, but leaning out the window provided a spectacular view.
We enjoyed the short walk to Paris Gare du Nord to catch the Eurostar back to Kent. Check in went smoothly (more scanners like back at the airport) but then… delays! There was a technical fault with the train which was so bad, in fact, they had to get us a whole new train.
We finally boarded an hour late (more chance for the humans to claim some compensation) and eventually we departed for Ashford. The way off the Eurostar platform onto the Southeastern line was very confusing and pointlessly long winded but we eventually found the train.
Well, that’s it, back home, Europe trip over! And what a trip it has been, I for one would be game for doing it all over again, the sights I’ve seen! I feel very few cats have travelled through so many countries and certainly not in such a short time. For most cats, ‘travelling’ is the journey from the neighbour’s garden back to their food dish and then to a comfy bed, preferably with an obliging human to offer strokes and attention. Who knows, maybe I can inspire the cats of this world to take up travelling… but then I forget not all cats are educated like me and can read. Oh well, their humans can read this to them perhaps?
I suppose that’s it, all that remains now is for the humans to unpack and get back to normal life. I hope one day I’ll get a chance to make another blog of another amazing trip – I don’t want to be stuck in Charlie’s house for the rest of my life! If I’d actually met any of you, I would have said nice knowing you but as it stands in this brave new world of internet publishing to anonymous audiences, all I can say is I hope you’ve enjoyed reading my Tails, if you’re still there of course and I’m not just talking to myself! I’ll say that’s unlikely, a more fantastic and interesting talking cat I’m sure you’ve never met.
Hope there will be a next time, Chesh.
Ps. For fear of this entry being rather short and all over in a couple of paragraphs, I suppose I should let my humans have their say, after all they did carry me around for ten days, made sure I had a great time (apart from all the water), took many pictures and helped me write this.
Charlie. This trip has been a journey I have wanted to make for two years now and it certainly didn’t disappoint my high expectations.
Of course, as with any trip of this magnitude, there were the lower points, late trains and the ridiculously high temperatures that meant we spent a good portion of every day coated in sweat, but there were so many amazing parts that made any of the bad bits insignificant in comparison.
Visiting all the cities has been the best trip I’ve ever been on, but how to pick a favourite? Oslo and Berlin were the two cities we were most keen to visit, hence why we stayed in these places longer than the others and they were definitely worth the longer stay. If pushed, I would probably say Berlin was my favourite city, I love the sound of the language and the history of the place. But then, Oslo was so beautiful and so incredibly green for a city, both in terms of the trees that were everywhere, but also the fact that so many people were driving electric cars, the city itself was just so clean and relaxed as well.
Maybe Oslo was my favourite? Or Berlin? I don’t know – I can’t choose. Copenhagen, Vienna and Geneva were fantastic as well and if we’d had longer in these cities, I’m sure I’d also have felt a sense of being comfortable in the area, fitting into the place, which I started to feel in Oslo and Berlin as we re-visited the same streets, particularly those around the rooms we stayed in.
I might not be able to pick a favourite city, but visiting the (remains of the) Berlin Wall I think was the most interesting place we visited. The remains immersed us in the history of the place – I was absolutely fascinated, but then I do love modern history!
My favourite meal? The falafel pitta sandwich from Fala Fala in Copenhagen, such a huge portion and so delicious, I still dream about it (well, not quite, but I wouldn’t mind if I did). My favourite place to eat was Vienna’s Swing Kitchen – a fantastic atmosphere – but my favourite dessert was most certainly Brammibal’s doughnuts in Berlin, I heartily recommend them although I think Chesh has already sung their praise!
Working out the trains between countries, transport within the cities and finding all the places we wanted to visit was a bit of a challenge, especially with limited internet whilst on the Continent, and involved a lot of planning before we arrived in any of the countries, but there is no doubt it was worth it.
We have seen some of the most amazing sights, enjoyed a ridiculous variety of delicious foods (some of which was actually native to the countries we visited) and met a lot of people – mostly our room hosts and the serving staff/ owners of the cafés and restaurants.
Eating vegan was never a problem, I’ve just done a search on Happy Cow and in a 5 mile radius of central Berlin there are 53 all-vegan places, including cafés, restaurants and bakeries. When making our choices we had to restrict the search to a specific area of each city to even be in with a chance of choosing where we wanted to eat!
This whole trip has been amazing. For anyone who wants to travel and see lots of countries in a short space of time, give inter-railing a go, it won’t disappoint you.
Jack. Hi all! If you’re reading this then you already know all about our use as human cat-carriers and how much Chesh loves water! XD
All joking aside, the trip round Europe was amazing, there’s no other way to put it, with the lows, like broken air conditioning, appearing inconsequential next to the highs such as seeing each city. I'd always wanted to see the world a bit, having only been to Spain and Greece. Seeing all the differences between each country in relation to their architecture, customs and habits was enlightening; all the people we met were really friendly and helpful.
My favourite city was definitely Oslo; it was small, had tons of green plants, was clean and had a nice atmosphere. The views from our room were amazing.
Berlin was definitely a close second with its historic buildings such as the Brandenburg gate. Reading about the Berlin Wall was incredibly interesting though tinged with sadness due to the suffering people endured.
My favourite meal would have to be the falafel in Copenhagen as it tasted amazing and the atmosphere was bustling. The best desert was definitely the chocolate milkshake at Lia’s Kitchen in Berlin, I’ll have to try and make my own!
Eating vegan was easy due to the Happy Cow app and all the Airbnb hosts we met were extremely welcoming.
And most importantly, the trip wouldn't have been as awesome as it was without Charlie who is an amazing friend....and I suppose Chesh as well ;)
Day 9, Geneva to Paris
Greetings, humans! As promised, I will inform you about any exciting developments on our night train journey. The only unexpected occurrence was the train stopping for over two hours at a station somewhere in Austria where our cabin-mates got off and didn’t come back. Nice people that they were, it did mean Charlie and Jack had the compartment to themselves and could stretch out across three seats each. I mean, that’s almost as good as a bed but for the price of a single seat.
Now, onto today. What a morning! I woke up to the early morning light of 5:30 AM, stretching my legs and flexing my claws to be greeted by a beautiful sight – the Alps stretching high above us on both sides, green, covered in trees and small old Austrian houses; I can’t be sure but I don’t think we’ve crossed into Switzerland at this point.
Despite the beauty of this early morning scene with the mountains lightly coated in mist and Charlie’s best poking abilities, Jack didn’t wake up and so missed what I must surely argue is one of the greatest wonders of the natural world.
Well, that got a bit poetical. We went back to sleep for a bit and when we woke up, it was definitely over the border, the Swiss flags and number plates were a bit of a giveaway. But we were travelling through the German part of the country so, like in Austria, all the writing was in German. The fact that Switzerland also speaks French, Italian and Romansch confuses me slightly – why don’t they speak Swiss? And while I’m on the topic, why do they not speak Austrian in Austria and Austrian-German instead? I’m not sure that’s too important or relevant to my writings so I shall move on.
Our train pulled into Zurich (or Zürich to give it its German/Swiss name) and alighted for breakfast. In the train station, my personal humans found a shop selling vegan pretzels and shared a seeded one, although it was very salty and Charlie attempted to brush most of the salt off.
Breakfast over, it was then back on a train to Geneva (Genève in French – this city is in the French speaking part). This was a double decker train, one the three of us had long since watched and coveted at every station and here it was – success – we were on the top deck. Splendid views! What can be better than watching the Swiss countryside roll past than watching it from a whole floor higher up?
It was quite obvious when we passed into the French speaking part of Switzerland, obviously the signs became French, but the buildings were more often chalets instead of the farm buildings, both beautiful in their own way. We arrived in Geneva at lunch time and so headed straight to Aux Deux Ports, a vegan bakery, for lunch. Another new wonder of modern transport: the tram! After seeing them all around the cities we finally got to ride on one of these as well!
For lunch, the humans selected from the counter a large helping of spinach tart and a batch of freshly cooked potato crêpes with a side of salad and sauces. This was followed by the obligatory (as I have seen with my humans and thoroughly approve) dessert. This was strawberry cheesecake and a sponge cake with vanilla buttercream icing, coconut and lemon curd. Well, I’m going to call it lemon curd, that’s what it looked like, just not what it tasted like! Everything tasted good though, so I suppose that’s what’s important.
One of the café owners imparted wisdom to us – there was an area of Lake Geneva where swimming was free. Although not as blistering as the previous days, it was still pretty hot, and cooling in the lake would be much appreciated by the humans if not by me.
I thought they’d broken this deranged habit of heading to water like ducks!
We took the tram back to the station and walked from here to the lake. Part way there, the humans got distracted by a souvenir stall and then sat down on a grassy area. I thought perhaps the lake had been forgotten but, alas, no! They soon got up and carried on along the side of the lake looking for the place we had been promised. Before long we came across a small pier other humans were jumping off from a diving board into the water and swimming around. Oh what a shame, there was an entry fee to get onto the pier, looks like no swimming today then!
Oh darn it! These humans are painfully persistent in their quest for water. They kept walking and found a rock wall built around a small harbour, they walked out onto this and sat perilously close to the edge. Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, they took off their shoes and socks and put their feet in the water. Cold shivers are going up my back even now just thinking about it! At least they decided against swimming in it.
We stayed here for an awfully long time, looking across the lake, trying to guess which mountain was Mont Blanc (the one with snow on, of course) and taking pictures. Then a pair of swans with cygnets viciously and completely without motivation started swimming towards us and then… um… swam past us, so at least we were safe from them, the same cannot be said for the water.
And then, as if I needed any more proof that water is deadly, Charlie slipped on a rock and would have fallen straight into the lake if aforementioned rock hadn't been there! I nearly lost my scribe and cat-carrier! This would have been a disaster too terrible to comprehend, but did the humans realise the dangers of water now? Did they realise what I had been telling them all week? No, of course not!
After a lot more sitting and contemplating of the holiday, such as discussing the best city and the food they would most like to have again, my humans finally discovered it was time to leave and get the train to Paris. Well almost, they managed to squeeze in a bit of time sitting in a final park.
We then boarded the train which took us to Paris where I am writing this. We walked through the city to our final room. After much confusion regarding the English translation of what exactly we were supposed to do (this is basically a self-service room), we finally settled down for the evening.
Well, I did very much like Switzerland, waking up to the mountains may have been the only time in my life I enjoyed waking up. The countryside and the housing styles were beautiful. I think I would have liked Geneva too if it hadn’t had such a big lake in it, I mean, it is so big it is practically a sea, they might as well call it Ocean Geneva!
Paris, on the other hand, I could get to grips with, old buildings everywhere, even the metro signs are stylish. Small streets, big streets, winding streets with those old lampposts like that one in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, just perfect, especially for a stylish cat such as myself. Perhaps I should have been an Aristocat.
Well, goodnight for now folks, bed time for me. Tomorrow I shall relate to you my final instalment, the Tail of my return to Britain by Eurostar.
Until then, Chesh.