Roberto – passenger on board HS Bruckner

Roberto came on our vessel – HS Bruckner – at the beginning of February. He joined us in Valencia, after walking his way from Switzerland and the crossing over the Atlantic is just a part of a bigger trip around the world which will cover many countries over a longer period of time.

First time I saw him on the bridge and I asked him how he traveled from his home town to Valencia, he told me that he had walked. I found his answer a little bit strange, but I didn’t ask more as I thought that he really did not know the meaning of ‘walking’. How can anyone actually walk more than 2000 km? The answer came in later the same day when we gathered in the Officers’ lounge for a drink and Roberto told us the story of his journey on foot from Switzerland to Valencia and his plans for future travelling around the world.

Everybody was quite amazed by his story, but he found our lives quite amazing, too and, during the following days, we spent many hours in the Recreation Room and on the bridge talking about our ‘adventures’ at sea and his ‘adventures’ on land.

He spent his days noticing and admiring everything which was moving around him and every evening he joined us in the Recreation Room with a ‘bag’ full of new questions he really wanted the answers to.

He wrote the story of his voyage on HS Bruckner (and much more) and published it on his personal blog and now he is preparing for another amazing trip which he will surely include here as well. If you want to read more about his trip you can follow his blog here:

Here’s his short story about the voyage on HS Bruckner:

Why you have to travel once in your lifetime by cargo ship

“There is no place like a freight ship”[1] I am indented to say after my epic journey with a cargo ship over the Atlantic. But one at a time. While on a trip around the world on which I did not want to fly by plane, I decided to take a cargo ship from Valencia to New York. My aim was to enjoy travelling itself, the journey should be the aim, not the destination. Before I arrived in Valencia I hiked by foot from my hometown in Switzerland to Santiago de Compostela[2]. From there I travelled by train to Valencia where I went on board of HS Bruckner. The 15 days crossing the Atlantic on the cargo ship were planned as a counter pole to the restlessness of my hike. However it was so much more.

The ship

There was the seemingly endless HS Bruckner, a giant beauty of steal, 40’000 tons, 230 Meters long and 3’500 Containers. Don’t get me wrong: I am not a fanatical about machines, but how could you not be impressed by the massive engines, the immense crankshaft and the countless generators and pumps. Not a single day that I did not discover a secret niche, corner or pump. I sat on every platform, look-out and container, my face in the salty wind of the Atlantic overlooking the ship and for a glimpse of a moment I felt like a captain, a pirate, a discoverer of the world. So much silence, inspiration and time!

Time

Time to read the books I bought ages ago, but never touched. Time to follow video classes in “Yoga”, “DSLR Camera classes”[3]. Finally time to prepare my Spanish language exam. No disturbance, no distraction. Just my daily routine – getting up, breakfast, one hour spinning and one hour gym. In the afternoon pure productivity with a walk on deck whenever I needed to air my head.

The Atlantic

Each walk on deck was an experience at its own. The very second one reaches the deck, the Atlantic reveals its temper. Mostly it was rough, not to say furious. A stiff breeze blows, huge waves let the ship bounce and spray spatters over the container deck. The container ship seems to be a small nutshell in the endless ocean. Never will I forget the overwhelming force of the sea. Just some days later the Atlantic is calm, sun shine and the ocean surprises with the most colourful sunset ever. There were no two identical days, everything is in change.

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The crew

By far the best experience was the fantastic crew. Obviously, they were not supposed to take care for me and nevertheless …. they spoiled my like a king! Whenever I needed something, they organized it. Since I was the only tourist on board I was not just a guest, I was the “chief guest”! Every day we met for lunch, diner, table tennis or drinks in the officers lounge in the evening. Most encounters with the crew ended in long inspiring conversations about their job, family, home or the world. After a short time I felt like home, like being part of a big “family” with 23 crew members.

The reward

It is not just the journey itself that enriches. It is the complete different way how you experience your destination. I am not only talking about the breathtaking scenery that I  enjoyed from HS Bruckner when entering by boat into New York, seeing the Liberty Statue and Manhattan passing by. No, after 15 days of silence and recreation on the cargo ship I was more than ready for the restlessness and excitement of New York! The same night I arrived in Manhattan I left the apartment of my friends and it felt like not sleeping for 10 days in row enjoying the sights, museums, nightlife and culture of Big Apple.

Recommendation

After my personal experience I just can recommend to everybody travelling by cargo ship. Even if it at first sight it might look expensive – you have consider than it is so much more than just a trip. Don’t forget that during the two weeks on board you hardly spend anything[4]. As a beginner the Atlantic crossing from Valencia to New York is a perfect start! The Atlantic is rough[5], but in beauty difficult to top and the transition rather short. New York is a rewarding destination. So just do it. You will love it!

[1] Referring to “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz” from L. Frank Baum.

[2] About 2’000 km in three months on the Way of St. James.

[3] Including the perfect environment to practise what I learned.

[4] I spent 35 USD for drinks.

[5] For anybody suffering from sea sickness I strongly recommend to plan the trip in summer outside of the storm season.

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