You’ve been on the road since early this morning. Starting your journey with bleary eyes and an awful coffee, you watch light arrive over the fields and distant peaks as you speed westwards. Your luggage is settled onto the rack across the gangway and a book, your place marked with an ancient visiting card, is on the small table in front of you. You’ve made this part of the journey a lot recently, and you’re ready for the surprise view this time. Exiting the tunnel to bask in the magnificence of the vineyards and almost infinite lake, stretching ahead to your first destination of the day. Around you, gentle noises fill the train as people on their way to work chat sleepily, rustle newspapers, and set spoons upon saucers.

The first stage of the journey goes well: the regular cramped space replaced this time by an extra five centimetres of luxurious space, the flight attendants wearing more professional and muted colours. The first changeover goes much better than you had expected and the slightly unfamiliar airport territory is a blessed change in your brief stopover. There are benefits to routine, but these small changes at the start of your time away herald a real holiday, rather than an echo of your regular short visits to friends and family. En route northwards, you get to see long forgotten countryside, ant-like cars and lorries trundling their way into the cities and along winding country roads, the grey motorway snaking its way through the landscape beneath you. The now familiar view of brown European plains is replaced by a vivid checkerboard of rain-nourished colours; here a yellow field, there a green wood. You can see the sea in the distance and, as you pass swiftly overhead, you ponder what your aunt is up to at this time on a Monday.

The tone chimes through the cabin and a suave voice announces final descent to your destination. You’ll be touching down in under half an hour, to a city which you’ve never seen. A city both familiar, thanks to shops and people shared with its southerly sisters, and foreign, thanks to it’s northerly location and unfamiliar dialects. You’ll go through the familiar rigmarole of disembarking, enter the terminal building, and battle with commuters and travellers heading for the exits. You’ll walk away from the belt, towing your luggage behind you, hear the hiss as the double doors slide open, and look around to see what awaits you, so far from home.

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