I’ve been back from my travels for three weeks now and still diluting my trip and what comes next. Return has been somewhat of an anticlimax with no profound insights nor, for that matter, moments of panic that I’ve got to get moving with the next steps in life. Overall I’m extremely happy with the way things unfolded during the last three months (yes, even four days of Greek stomach tragedy) and one can’t help but feel that internally at least, I’ve continued to have grown and moved on a bit more.
For me, hitting the road is no longer an excuse to escape, to party, run away, or even to lay idle on some beach. I’m travelling to find answers, often to questions I haven’t even thought of yet and know that on my continued journey, I’ll utilize my insights somewhere further up the path.
Being back home is mere pause for thought, until I work out which next steps to take. Currently I have no idea as to what that entails but despite a cooling off period of the last three weeks, I’m fully conscious not to let time waste and will be busy planning again, soon.
It has bugged me for a long time that after devouring the first 30 years of my life in England, I’d never ‘Done Europe’. To many extents, this has wedged me into the same class of Americans I now meet in Seattle, who have never even been outside their own state (and to whom I indulgently boast my omnipotence over 49 states). After returning from Peru, sparks were committing to fire.
I’ve been extremely fulfilled with my recovered passion for travel and the mileage covered thus far; all the ups and downs along the way and the life lessons learned en route. This warming kindling of change was a creeping realisation that I’ve treated Europe as an overgrown garden, something I’d get to mowing when I wasn’t so busy.
In March 2011, I start my correctional procedure by flying to Amsterdam (Via Iceland), to begin a three month tending of my forgotten garden. I’ll be celebrating my 40th birthday two days before I fly out, wondering where that time has gone and, more importantly, why I hadn’t spent more of it travelling.
The plan is a fairly simple one, but essentially broken up into two halves. After reaching Amsterdam, I’ll be arcing the northern landscape through Scandinavia and dropping into Estonia by ferry. From there, my hiking guile takes over to switchback me through Eastern Europe until I reach Turkey. A bus from Turkey gets me to Greece and a plane from Greece terminates the first half of my trip in Italy. This half is fairly carefully planned and mapped out, so I can concentrate on travel and not deafen myself with a cacophony of detail – where will I sleep?, how do I actually get around?
The second half of the trip is much more ambiguous. From Italy, I’ll have about six weeks of zero reservations to make my way toward family and friends in England. The route I take will be decided on a daily basis and serves to give me a little more fluidity for cultural growth.
Fifteen weeks can’t come soon enough but after almost 40 years, I’m sure I can wait that long.