I decided to pop over to France today for a little visit. I stayed for less than a couple of hours, but it got me thinking. In England, to get to another country is quite an undertaking (I don’t mean England to Wales or Scotland, though of course depending on the state of the M4 or M6, those journeys can also be an undertaking). There are, broadly speaking, two options for those contemplating seeing a different culture.
You can fly (or take the Eurostar), and then have the added expense of hiring a car at the destination, or relying on taxis and public transport. Not a cheap option, and of course to make such a journey would typically involve booking the flight in advance if you don’t want to pay exorbitant business rates. And of course, there is the problem (read: expense) of how to get to the airport in the first place.
You can take the ferry (or tunnel). In doing so, there is the possibility to bring your car with you but again, there is an associated expense with the ticket and planning your journey in advance.
I popped over to France today on a whim. Because I can now make such a journey without the planning and associated expense. The journey was about half an hour. In a couple of hours, I could be in Switzerland, and if I was prepared for a five hour journey I could be in Austria. Or Italy. Or Liechtenstein. Or the Czech Republic. Belgium. Luxembourg. The Netherlands. All without having to book a ferry/plane/train ticket.
The English Channel has long been a source of protection, keeping us Brits safe from the horrors of Europe (ok, we were invaded by the Romans, Saxons, Vikings, and Normans, but you get the point), and has thus served to keep us Brits isolated, which might be a good or a bad thing, depending on your point of view. But its very existence has meant that any journey outside of the United Kingdom has always involved planning and extra expense, and this has obviously discouraged many journeys from being made. And that is a shame.
I think next week I’ll pop over to Switzerland.
Because I can.