# The heroine's travel

The riddle below tells the story of a travel.

A travel starts, for our hero

From a spot, where the time is zero

To fantasy land she'll go first

Though only water, she'd die of thirst

Then east or west, it doesn't matter

Either way, that's where isles scatter

As far as possible she'll travel

But where she's gone, she'll not unravel

She starts to count all that's around

She shouts all numbers, but there's no sound

With compass and raft, she will be fine

She'll sail until she finds the line

Hunger starts to kill her mood

It's time to find some needed food

Bird or fish, or beef or veal

or maybe something she can peel

Finally, she's almost here

She starts to walk, that's fine from there

London is where she'll find her rest

Her chosen route was not the best

Hint 1:

Her first step is in a cardinal direction.

Hint 2:

The trip is definitely easier on paper than in real life. Assume difficult terrain and the like is of no hindrance to our heroine.

Hint 3:

Although it's not real, her second stop is in a prime location.

Hint 4, related to line 3:

I am a famous piece of land
Where neither man or woman stand
A popular place on planet earth
Where errors find their place of birth

Hint 5:

Try to understand the meaning of line 5.

What was her route?

I think it describes a journey from

the north pole to London, Kiribati via N0° E0° and the intersection of the date line and the equator (N0° E180°).

A travel starts, for our hero
From a spot, where the time is zero
To fantasy land she'll go first
Though only water, she'd die of thirst

The starting point is the North Pole, as Stiv explained. However, I do believe that 'fantasy land' refers to Null Island. This fits hint 4: Despite being called 'island' no one ever stood there since it's in the ocean, and a lot of places erroneously have these coordinates as its often used as a default placeholder coordinates (hence 'where errors find their place of birth'). 'Though only water, she'd die of thirst' refers to the Atlantic salt water.

Then east or west, it doesn't matter
Either way, that's where isles scatter
As far as possible she'll travel
But where she's gone, she'll not unravel

She starts to count all that's around
She shouts all numbers, but there's no sound
With compass and raft, she will be fine
She'll sail until she finds the line

She is going on the equator to the International date line. It does not matter whether she goes east or west since the distance to Null Island is the same in either direction since it as far away from Null Island as possible. Islands scatter there since the regions, Micronesia and Polynesia, are full of small islands and atolls. 'With compass and raft, she will be fine' might refer to the early polynesian civilzations who already travelled between these remote islands with small boats (and probably not even a compass but rather navigation via the stars). I am just not sure what the counting might refer to...

Hunger starts to kill her mood
It's time to find some needed food
Bird or fish, or beef or veal
or maybe something she can peel

She follows the date line in the ocean where obviously she will not find any food. However, close to the date line is the island nation of Kiribati, where a town called Banana - something you can indeed peel in its usual meaning - is located.

Finally, she's almost here
She starts to walk, that's fine from there
London is where she'll find her rest
Her chosen route was not the best

Once she sets foot on Kiritimati (the atoll on which Banana is located) she can walk to London, Kiribati. 'Her chosen route was not the best' because the detour via Null Island was not necessary.

I do really hope this is correct since

I always found Kiribati a fascinating place and was very excited to apply my otherwise pretty useless knowledge of I-Kiribati settlements (yes, that's the proper adjective).

• Nice. That incorporates my ideas/findings and adds much more reasonable explanations for several of the lines ('peel' notably). Never thought of looking for a different London, to be honest!
– Stiv
Commented Aug 14 at 9:51
• @Stiv: Or a different thing to peel. ;) Commented Aug 14 at 11:09
• Very good :) A few comments: How many things are there to count at that intersection? Also, after leaving that intersection, what line is she out to find? Commented Aug 14 at 19:54
• Oh, perhaps she's following the rot13(yvar vfynaqf)? That should lead her to her goal. Does the counting then refer to rot13(ure pbhagvat ubj znal vfynaqf fur unf nyernql cnffrq gung jrera'g vaunovgrq (urapr 'ab fbhaq'))? Commented Aug 17 at 21:43
• That's the line she's looking for, yes. rot13(Vs lbh'er va gur zvqqyr bs gur cnpvsvp naq fgnegf gb pbhag rirelguvat nebhaq lbh gura lbh jba'g pbhag irel sne.) Commented Aug 21 at 19:25

I wonder whether this riddle describes a journey...

...southwards from the North Pole to London, specifically following the prime meridian that passes through Greenwich where longitude is defined to be 0°.

A travel starts, for our hero
From a spot, where the time is zero
To fantasy land she'll go first
Though only water, she'd die of thirst

Time 'is zero' at the Earth's North Pole, the only place on Earth where there is no time zone.

While in the vicinity, she explores the North Pole region, synonymous with childhood fantasies of Father Christmas. However, the whole region is a floating mass of ice - frozen water - so there is technically water everywhere around her (in the form of ice) but none of it drinkable in its present form (hence she might die of thirst...).

Then east or west, it doesn't matter
Either way, that's where isles scatter
As far as possible she'll travel
But where she's gone, she'll not unravel

Once she reaches the sea and begins sailing south along the Greenwich prime meridian, islands lie in the oceans to both her east and her west.

She is going to keep moving in a straight line southwards as far as possible until she reaches the British mainland.

She starts to count all that's around
She shouts all numbers, but there's no sound
With compass and raft, she will be fine
She'll sail until she finds the line

This section alludes to prime numbers (a pun on the 'prime' meridian), since all numbers are either prime or can be made from a product of primes.

She continues sailing south on her raft, guided by her compass, following 'the line' of the prime meridian.

Hunger starts to kill her mood
It's time to find some needed food
Bird or fish, or beef or veal
or maybe something she can peal

Birds and fish would probably constitute the bulk of any menu when sailing through the Arctic Ocean and North Sea, since those are relatively plentiful in an ocean habitat. However, she allows herself to imagine the beef and veal commonly associated with Britain and France, and the peelable fruits of the Mediterranean and North Africa - all parts of the world that lie further south still along this prime meridian.

Finally, she's almost here
She starts to walk, that's fine from there
London is where she'll find her rest
Her chosen route was not the best

She finally hits land near Tunstall in Yorkshire, pretty much the northernmost piece of land on this prime meridian. The rest of her voyage to Greenwich in London will be over land, so is possible by foot (walking) rather than sailing anymore.

Her chosen route was not the best because although it is the shortest way to reach London from the North Pole as the crow flies, it is not necessarily the easiest! Perhaps she should have taken a plane at least some of the way?!

• Very nice, but not right I'm afraid. You interpreted the third hint correctly. Commented Aug 12 at 8:02
• @StewieGriffin Ah, okay. My other thought was that it could be related to this recent puzzle but I just couldn't make all the stanzas sit nicely with that. I also clocked the 'peal' spelling but wasn't sure if that was intentional or a typo.
– Stiv
Commented Aug 12 at 8:11
• I've never seen that puzzle before, but it's indeed related. You're still far from the end destination. Peal is a typo. Sorry about that!! English is not my first language and I forgot to spellcheck. Commented Aug 12 at 8:30
• I see how that recent puzzle makes the 4th hint very easy to understand. Commented Aug 12 at 8:35
• @StewieGriffin Not a problem. I will keep thinking. Hopefully this might also set some others thinking about alternative ways to interpret your puzzle :) (And yes, your 4th hint immediately made me think that I had been wrong to abandon that line of thinking...!)
– Stiv
Commented Aug 12 at 8:36