Walking down the ancestral roads of strangers has always appealed to me more than my own. I think it started vicariously when I was about 14 and my favourite book was my mother’s old olive green atlas where most countries were coloured the red of the British Empire. It inspired me to spread my wings, as had both she and my father in the days when travel was very different, certainly for women. And so I set off at 21 for Moscow in the depths of winter and under communist rule….as an almost first stop and I have not stopped since as many of you know. 73 countries down and more to go.

It is now 10 days since I left the comforts of Melbourne and familiarity and already it is a different Buzz. I love being in Europe. I have a spring in my step and whilst so much is familiar, everything is new. I champagne-d myself to Hong Kong as you do….where the first challenge appeared…..the non-appearance of my suitcase. Now, given that I culled through every single item in my house and my wardrobe to select just those special things I really wanted and loved for this extended travel, leaving everything else in a 20 foot container locked and safe, I was not pleased to imagine that all I had left was my laptop and my jewellery!!!Thankfully the day’s Magic Moment was when it turned up around midnight and I could sleep peacefully until breakfast when I was joined by my French Hong Kong-based friend Veronique and her son Nicola.

Landing in London was wonderful….still daylight and with the expectation that in a few hours I would see my beloved Hugo. An hour or so later my car had not appeared at the airport to collect me but I was remarkably calm and wondering if this was the new energy that would accompany me on these peregrinations. A new taller slimmer Hugo greeted me sometime after midnight and it was wonderful to reconnect with him. London is right for him. It works, and I am so happy to see him so settled here. He was to be shooting his first film this week but the leading man walked out and he is yet to find another. Such are the trials of a 21 year old would-be film maker. And it will happen soon.

London is always wonderful and I am staying opposite Hyde Park which is full always of joggers, mothers with prams, walkers, lovers. And so green. London is on water restrictions which everyone thinks is hilarious…like it always rains here and they have a water shortage!!!

Day One I allocated to communications…mobile phone contract, internet etc and annoyingly it has taken more than a week and still not right. I give up and think perhaps this journey is about being out there not being in here with my computer! My friends would agree, I know that!! Over the next few days Hugo and I met and shopped and lunched at The White Swan pub in Covent Garden, dined at my hotel and wonderfully reconnected.

One evening I dined with the famous Edward de Bono at a superb Italian restaurant in Mayfair. What an interesting man. 85 books to his credit and he told me he can say “I’ll love you forever, or until tomorrow” in 36 languages! A brilliant mind as you would expect and a charming host; it was a wonderful evening.

And then off to Paris…the Euro Star…only about 20 minutes under the Channel and the rest in lovely English and then French countryside. Ah, viva la difference! France is populated by wind turbines, sensibly in the draughty areas yet I’ve never seen one in England. We make such a moment of them in Australia and yet they make great sense and Europe is littered with them. I recall one day driving in northern Germany to Denmark we saw literally thousands on that flat windy terrain.

The Left Bank, St Germain de Pres, my favourite part of Paris (well at the moment) and lunch with a delightful Frenchman with a Petite Chateau in the South West. Methinks it’s more than Petite from the way he described it and I look forward to checking it out later in the summer!

Such differences between Paris and London. In the streets of Paris everyone smokes, particularly women; in London they eat. Perhaps not politically correct to observe but in England they are fat, in Paris slim. And even with all those wonderful croissants and baguettes which I find totally addictive. There is chewing gum all over London streets but I did not see it in Paris….there only the signs of dogs, and much less than I remembered from last time. The shops in Paris are cleverly designed, the windows I mean. I do not see such style in London except the Louis Vuitton shop in Bond Street which has delicious things draped over huge white plaster horses as if they had just come off a carousel and gone through a white wash.

There is colour in Paris: yellow, mint green, huge splashes of orange, in all the clothes and shoes. In London it is black and boring. The fashion is divine in Paris; in London half the shops along the high streets are mobile phone outlets…yet I did not see one in many hours of walking in Paris. I wonder what it says about the people.Sneakers, on every foot in London: beautiful boots and high heels in Paris. I know which I prefer!

I was stopped by a woman as I walked along the Seine who gave me a gold wedding ring….it’s a scam my friend Ellen, who lives there, says, but I rather liked its symbology so I gave here 10 Euros for food and kept walking. Sunday morning music in the Notre Dame was lovely and a day in the Marais where there is always vibrancy and music and colour and people. I compare it unfavourably to a Sunday in High Street Armadale where you could shoot a gun and not get anyone.

I love being here. I love Europe. I love the freedom of a suitcase vs. a house full of stuff. It is amazing. I love hearing different languages coming from every mouth in the trains and the part of me that has always loved anonymity is feeling nurtured and happy! It’s wonderful catching up with all my European friends and I have had an elongated birthday this week with dinners and luncheons in two countries and over many days. Tomorrow it will cease when I meet my Tony Robbins Trainer buddies for our pre UPW meeting. And so to the next part of this adventure. Istanbul shortly, then Italy.

Until next time on this Journey with Heart. Be happy and be grateful….life is wonderful.