Wednesday, 21 August 2013

The Joy of Travel

I can hardly believe it but here I am back in my little house, snuggled under my duvet with which I have been gratefully reunited, after one month of three countries, fifteen different places and near on different beds every night. I wasn't sure how I was going to take to travelling. I was worried that I was going to feel unsettled, that what usually gives me peace of mind is the things around me but the reality couldn't have been further from the truth.

The bay in San Sebastian
Certainly I'm glad to be reunited with a wardrobe full of clothes that I haven't painstakingly hand-washed in the hotel sink. Having proper English tea available 24/7 again has made me slightly giddy with glee but the experience of having only what I can carry and dragging out the same old pair of shorts day after day was oddly freeing. There really are no distractions from what is going on right there, where you are. Your options are limited in material things but wide open in experiences.

Me and my trusty bag for the month
And there were plenty of experiences to be eyes wide open for. The vast range of cultures as you travel north to south across Europe, the depth of history that my secondary school 'tudors and a bit about the world wars' education didn't even touch, the different lives we encountered lived in quiet rural corners or busy city streets. The whole experience energized me for my own journey, taking me away from everything I had constructed in my head, shaking it up and letting it all resettle again.

The Alcazar in Seville
I may have dreamed up a few new dreams. The best kind of dreams, ones that make you a little shaky and wonder if you can be that courageous. But being on the road (or rails!) was the best kind of tonic for that too. Granted, eighteen year olds the length and breadth of Europe managed to hop on and off trains with abandon every summer and I'm no stranger to travel myself. Still, there was something about seeing that line on the map, winding its way through France, Spain and Italy, and knowing that I had come to the end of it. My journey, that I painstakingly planned, with all the little niggling worries about what might or might not happen and realise that I did it. I got to the end and it was wonderful.

But more than anything I am so thankful for the wow moments. It felt like the best gift I have ever given myself. The time, space and experiences to be truly, deep down thankful to be alive. To see something that makes me think with conviction 'Wow, I have really lived!' Travelling meant that those wow moments came thick and fast, barely a day passed without one. I feel like it has readjusted me somehow, reminded me that the world is a pretty darn amazing place full of new sounds, smells, tastes and glorious sights. That life is still wide open, it always has been really.

The Duomo in Florence
And so here I am, back to the life I left behind a month ago. Ready to open the books and embark on this coming academic year which in equal parts thrills and terrifies me. Bolstered by that gloriously stocked tea cupboard and a stack of brilliant memories I'm going forward boldly and letting myself think as vast as I dare for the next adventure.

Plotting in Paris!

P.S. I blogged all mytravel adventures over on Off Exploring and all the pics are now up there too. Yes, I was a bit snap happy!!

1 comment:

  1. Welcome home, Nicola. So glad you had such a wonderfully fulfilling and energising trip. Best wishes for the new term.