Australia's oldest backpacker, Keith Wright, left our shores a few weeks ago and since then his adventure has been nothing short of fun; from sipping on French champagne to meeting an artist commissioned to paint Black Caviar. Christina Kerr managed to chat with Keith over the phone.
The Flight to Europe
Keith boarded his Emirates flight from Brisbane on the May 28, bound for Madrid. From the moment he stepped onboard the aircraft, Keith made friends with the crew of friendly flight attendants, who were eager to listen to his travel tales and spoil him with never-ending glasses of Bollinger in Business Class.
During the first leg of the voyage, he sat next to an oil worker, who was headed for Lagos. Keith said this made for an interesting conversation, but for the second leg of his flight, he was lucky enough to have a spare seat next to him, so he enjoyed even more storytelling with the flight attendants.
Keith was a star by the end of his flight, with all the crew jumping at the chance to have their photo taken with him. The photos were framed, with messages of support and encouragement, including one from the Emirates captain on his flight. Keith was so moved by the gesture that he sent the photos back to Australia for safe keeping.
Upon arrival in Madrid, a well-rested Keith was ready for his adventure. He was warmly greeted at the Equity Point Hostel in Madrid by Marissa, who is the hostel's long-standing manager and friend to Keith, since his first trip to Spain. The hostel had moved to a new located since his last visit, but everything else was as he had remembered.
Keith then travelled to San Sebastian, his favourite spot in Europe, where he spent one week at Urban House visiting his friend Asa, who runs the hostel. Unfortunately, the weather in San Sebastian was not at its finest, so beach time was limited, but this presented much opportunity for tapas and wine at the local pintxos bars.
Next, Keith was bound for Paris, but was informed in Toulouse that all hostel accommodation in Paris was full, due to the Tour De France and other summer festivals.
At this point, Keith decided it was a good excuse to return to San Sebastian, especially since he left his room key in pocket. So, he hopped off the bus, and then took three trains via Bordeaux and Bayonne and a taxi that cost him 70 Euros, just to get back to San Sebastian.
Keith arrived in London on June 16, where he checked into his budget central London digs for the week. He spent a few days exploring the city, and then called into the Busabout office for a few cups of tea and a lot of chatting about life on the road.
For his first day at the Royal Ascot Races, Keith dressed in his suit and handmade "Black Caviar" hat, complete with a salmon and black ribbon. He was scheduled to watch Australian's own Black Caviar race, but sadly the horse was scratched a few days prior. Keith described the day as a crazy one, with plenty of oldies, but the highlight was meeting an artist who was commissioned by Richard Branson to paint Black Caviar.
He also met a fellow from Toowoomba and found the Royal entourages long entrance down the straight quite amusing, with everyone standing and clapping for 30 minutes. Keith spent the day limping in his leather shoes that were a tad too tight, so he planned to wear his joggers on Saturday.