How do you get from Lyon to Brussels for less than fifty quid?
It’s not a joke, it’s just a question I’ve been pondering today as I practise my window-sunbathing once more and plan the next few months of my nomadic existence. I think I’ve got the hang of it, mes amis, and life now seems like a positive, enjoyable thing, rather than a dull, day-to-day survival quest. I simply was not cut out to stay in one place for very long. And now I’ve discovered that I don’t need a huge savings account to just take off and drift around the world – and the freedom of this lifestyle suits me right down to my battered walking shoes.
Next week I leave for France, le pays de mes rêves, and I could not be more excited. I’m travelling to Riga (Latvia) by bus, then catching a flight to Berlin. The next day, I fly to Lyon, where I’ll meet my new flatmate – a friendly computer programmer who’s letting me rent his spare room for a month. I suppose it’s a little odd that I seem to be flitting from country to country, staying with computer programmers, but I expect there’s a reason for everything.
The plan, as you know, was to settle in France for a while, but that was before I started panicking about the cost of rent and discovered the rather brilliant alternative: housesitting. It is fantastic! You register as a housesitter, and people who are going away for a few weeks or months can ask you to go and live at their house. In exchange for rent-free accomodation in beautiful, foreign surroundings, and the opportunity to live in a different country for a while, you agree to look after their house and their pets while they’re away. Perfect!
So, that’s the New Plan. No more desperately searching for “cheap” rentals in specific locations. No, I shall chase housesitting assignments instead – all I have to pay for is a plane ticket (or a train ticket, if they’re close enough together). My first stint is in Belgium, in a lovely house near a small village, where I’ll be taking care of a dog and a parrot. The owners are picking me up when I arrive in Brussels, and introducing me to some of their friends at BBQ… hooray! New country, new friends, and a summer evening BBQ. It’s all falling into place.
Might as well hop on across the border when I’m in the area, and go to Anne Frank’s house (I’ve wanted to see that since I first read her diary and approached my mother, confused, asking why the book ‘just stopped’. I cried for a long time when she explained). So, the next stop, post-August, will hopefully be Amsterdam if I can hunt down a housesitting job there in time. Plus, I’ve hear that the cafés there serve interesting brownies – and I’m all for sampling foreign cuisine.