Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Contemplating Travel

Yesterday I had a brief look at Stuttgart accommodation and in the afternoon went to buy luggage (I'm no bag lady, but I love luggage). The idea that I'll be travelling again filled me with a weird sensation. Like, where would I stay? Hostels again? Most likely. Or should I treat myself to mid-range hotels this time? Why, because I'm older and it's not my first time? Because the first time the American college kids were more my peers than they will be this time? And with luggage, what luggage do I want for island-hopping in the south of Italy? Surely a Gucci overnighter makes more sense than the Samonsite Ultralite 5 Expandable Trolley Case?
Having lost my travelling virginity is kind of sad - that innocence of that first step off the plane and the wander - what will hostels be like? will I be able to understand and be understood? will I be able to get from there to there? - is gone. Maybe it's because I'll be going back to cities and countries that I've been to that this familiarity is unsettling me. I want to be challenged and experience the unknown. And of course I will be - I can be challenged here in my own city for crying out loud. Maybe I'm annoyed at having responsibilities that don't allow me to take off for months and months anymore, that I have to censor my trips and delegate where I want to go when - how completely unspontaneous. But there's things to be optimistic about not being the new kid off the block: being older and theoretically wiser; having more wits about me with those dangerous French boys; no boyfriend back home to save myself for;* combining those last two and having one hell of a good time...

* Having just found his emails to me while I was away, I'm again struck by how fragile love is. At the time, the love is endless, as are the petits mots, the care, the devotion. It's beautiful, while it lasts. It's heart-breaking, when it's a two dimensional email of empty hopes from the past.


Blogger Jules said...

I think that the travel excitement comes from going to places you haven't been. Places I've been to once and then go back, to feel oddly familiar, so there isn't that initial rush and surge of adrenalin. Yes, it can still be fun/interesting/challenging, but its not the fresh, new discoveries that you make when you are somewhere you haven't been before.

I'm still trying to work out where my next trip will be to, but I think that I'm going to choose somewhere that makes my stomach go flip-flop in anticipation, rather than the familiar, comfortable places I've already been.

2:52 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Definitely. Being time poor though, I won't be able to go to new countries this time - I'm just not into that - but will visit some new places in countries that I've been, and pop back into some that I loved, so I think it will be a good mix.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Sharp Lily said...

I agree that the first time is the most adrenaline-inducing, but there is something to be said, still, about having a bit more knowledge about your surroundings, especially if it's only a second visit or you haven't been in a while. I lived in Italy for a year, and every time I go back, when I step off the plane I get that amazing feeling. There's just a little less anxiety because I actually know (the teeniest bit) more about what I'm doing. Anyway, I would give anything to go anywhere right now! You seem so adventurous, you'll have so much fun!!

3:06 PM  
Blogger Julia said...

Thanks SL, I agree wholeheartedly.

(Watch your Inbox soon as I may have some questions about Italy for you!).

I've spent all afternoon looking at travel sites so the buzz has definitely kicked in!

3:12 PM  
Blogger KGB Files said...

When I recently stepped off the plane in Jordan and Syria, I was surprised at how un-excited I was. I'm afraid that the travel buzz has very much left me. I still love travelling and seeing new places, but the thrill of anticipation is no longer there. I think it comes from the fact that I have traveled so much in different areas of the world and I know that no matter where I am I can pretty much take care of myself.

I have to admit that I'm fairly disappointed with this. I don't want to become blase about amazing experiences. But I guess nothing can replace that feeling when you're just out of college and off on your own for the first time. That thrill is delicious.


7:40 PM  
Blogger TessaJ said...

I'll never forget my first travels as an adult -- a friend and I did the backpack through Europe thing one summer, and that very first moment we got on our first train is forever etched in my mind. We were both very tall and wearing these dreadful external frame backpacks and heavy hiking boots (what were we thinking???), and my friend almost didn't make it onto the train. Our first stop was Florence, and to this day it remains one of my fondest travel experiences.

Now that I'm more of an "expert" traveler, I don't have that innocence I had before and sometimes it all does feel a bit redundant, but the thrills still come from choosing a new destination or facing a new challenge when I've arrived. It's not gone, just different. I hope that thrill never goes away.

9:37 AM  

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