A Frenchman who travels the world penniless and relying only on the kindness of strangers has arrived in Co Armagh.
Charles Attonaty currently lives with the Zwecker family in Cormeen, just outside Killylea.
The 29-year-old usually sleeps in a tent, but the family offered him a room on their farm, not to mention very enjoyable meals and a hot shower.
James Zwecker, who runs a transport business, said Charles arrived last week after staying with a friend of his in Magherafelt.
“There’s a lot of talk with him and he’s also helped me around the court here,” he said.
“He had experiences. He will not ask for food or equipment. Even if the boots are worn out, he won’t ask anyone. He’ll rely on someone to see him and give him a pair of boots.
Charles, originally from Normandy, started traveling on July 27, 2020, in an impulsive decision.
“I was supposed to go on vacation to Thailand for three months, but because of the coronavirus I couldn’t fly,” he said.
“It was frustration. I took a backpack and at 7:40 at night I just slammed the door. Even my parents didn’t know I was going.
Since then, Charles has divided his journey into stages and is now on stage four.
By the end of the second leg, he had traveled to countries like Italy, Croatia, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria, Turkey, Belgium, the Netherlands, Germany and Denmark.
After a brief return home, he realizes how much he loves to travel and decides to give up his apartment, sells most of his belongings, and hands over his food delivery business to his employee.
“Now I have nothing and I’m so much happier,” he said.
Charles has since traveled through England, Scotland and Wales and arrived in Northern Ireland in August, thanks to a free travel offer.
Although he mostly walks for hours each day, he has also been offered modes of transportation ranging from a tractor, dog sled, sailboat, steamer, tank and a helicopter (courtesy of a family in Northern Ireland who wanted to surprise him).
His personal rules prevent him from asking for food or sleeping in people’s homes, and only travels with his equipment, his passport and his “good energy”.
“People ask me where you’re going or how many kilometers you’re doing but for me it’s not really important. The most important thing for me is the intensity of the day,” he explained.
“In 2020 I was pretty sure the world was so bad and now I see humanity is still there.”
Although he has endured difficult experiences, such as sub-zero temperatures and long periods without food, and found some countries more welcoming than others, he says Turkey is at the top of the hospitality scale and that Northern Ireland is the best. in the UK – overall he has been overwhelmed with the generosity of people and the effort they will make to help him.
And he was also struck by the “synchronicity” of things that happened or people he met – what we would call here serendipity or simply being a “small world”.
“The world is one country and people are interconnected,” he said. “I learned more in this world tour than in my whole life. I don’t ask for anything and I get everything. I’m going around the world but I’m taking a tour of myself.
“I think it will be impossible to go back to the life I had. I think I will have a very simple life. Before, I had all my comfort. Now, I think it will be different.
Although Charles makes no plans and takes each day as it comes, he will likely travel to the Republic of Ireland next.
As for returning to one of the countries he visited, he said: “I think I will come back to see the people who helped me after my world tour.”
Charles can be followed on his social media accounts – World Tour Without Money – on Tiktok: tiktok.com/@