little bit lot of reflection on lessons learnt from travelling today here on lou.co.nz.
“10 Things: it’s something we started in a class a while back and it happens every month on the 10th. It’s ridiculously simple: make a list of anything, as long as it has 10 things!”
For those of you who don’t know my Fiance and I have been travelling while being based in London for the last 2 1/2 years. We are on our way home now via Thailand and Australia and having a blast. Although I am really excited to be going home, seeing family and friends and even getting married next March, I am sure I will miss the ease of travelling that living in London afforded us-so in that vein I have summarised a few (10…surprisingly) things I have learnt from the last few years of travelling…
1. Once is never enough – We visited 3 countries twice, France, Italy and Germany.
Paris was our first continental city we visited when touring with Topdeck on our 21 day European Getaway trip and we revisited with my sister and her boyfriend about a year later when they moved over to the UK for 6 months. The allure of France for me was tri-fold: Food, Language and Sight-seeing…and each trip was amazing in it’s own was. I would love to visit again, any time.
Berlin was a favourite of Dave’s when we toured so it was brilliant to get a further taste for it when we returned last Christmas before getting a ride-share down to a villiage near Leipzig to share in the celebrations with a friend’s family.
In Italy – one of my most favourite countries we got to stop in Verona, Venice and Florence both on our tour and with my parents last year while they visited. The first time around was very much the whirlwind of sights and sounds…and just a little too much alcahol for someone who shall remain nameless (Dave…) at a certain wild Toga party in Venice. The second visit was much more leisurely with my parents and while we drove a fair distance and saw probably just as much it was far more relaxing and was a chance for us to make many more treasured memories —great scrapbooking fodder!!!—
2. I could travel for the rest of my life – Somehow at some point along the line, the move to London became my be all and end all. I thought how well travelled I would become and yet, since becoming a travel agent I have gradually realised just how huge this planet really is and made a much larger list of places to visit in the future. The choice of honeymoon destination will not be easy!
3. There is so much more a country than the city you live in – Living in London was a blast and we would always be able to find something free, cheap or expensive to do at the drop of a hat but somewhere along the way I became disillusioned and decided that London was the pits…until a lovely weekend away with a wonderful friend in Oxford helped me to realise that sometimes, a getaway is just the medicine required. England is a beautiful country to travel in it’s own rights and we will have a great time whenever we next come back travelling to places we missed this time around.
4. The beauty in some places is unexpected – We travelled around Egypt with On the Go in May of this year and come July when we arrived in Turkey we were pleasantly surprised. Instead of finding Istanbul similar to Cairo we found it modern, clean and tidy and safe to get around. Further into our tour (with Intrepid – Active Turkey. Highly recommended!!) we saw the beauty of Galipoli where the fallen are commemoratedThe stunning beaches of the coast along the Lycian Way – yep we hiked 14km in half a day, and the joy for me in wandering through ruins I have read and been taught about since childhood (Ephesus). While we loved travelling in Egypt, both Dave and I agree that we liked Turkey much more.
5. Cultures can be so similar and yet vastly different – Contrasting Egypt and Turkey as well as Morocco, each country has a high percentage of believers of Islam do it’s easy to expect the locals to all act the same but they don’t…
Morrocans speak French and Arabic and hound you to buy from them if you so much as blink in their general direction. If you do decide to purchase from them you get wonderful help and a great smile of thanks, but possibly a smelly piece of leather (in the form of a notebook cover) that will be thrown out soon after getting home when it stinks out the bedroom. (Disclaimer – my friend had a lovely book cover from Morocco but I had the bad luck to not know the difference and ended up buying something from a stall where they hadn’t treated the leather properly so it smelt…bad!!!)
Egyptians in any job will expect a tip for the smallest of things – so just be sure to remember: When you visit any tourist sight, even the security guards will take your camera off you, force you in to a silly pose and take a few photos and then never leave your side until you hand over some cash.
Turkish people are quiet and reserved but will do anything to get a smile. While the majority of the population declare Islam to be their religion, the government has declared themselves a secular country since the constitutional amendment in 1924. This shows itself in simple ways such as the language and signage for example and gives the country a more balanced feel to a traveller from another secular country.
6. 25 countries by 25 years old suddenly feels like not so much at all – When I moved to the UK I had seen a few Asian countries and Australia. By the time I left I had visited Western Europe, Africa and Asia/Australia some more, but we are yet to travel the Americas, Southern Africa, Eastern Europe, Pacific nations, India etc etc so while I feel pretty proud of that achievement there is a lot more to be done and hopefully we will be able to continue to travel frequently throughout life. (Which reminds me, I need to do an update post on my progress and where we ended up!!)
7. Learning the language and respect are the key to getting by – I find that in most countries it is the tourists who respect the culture and people they are visiting the most are the ones who get more enjoyment out of their time spent in that area. I ahve heard so many times about people visiting France and struggling to get a local to speak English but I always found a greeting and an effort for just that little bit more more was always met with a smile and the response in English… ensuring that you try is often all they want, instead of arrogantly assuming that everyone understands the language you are speaking! I know this can be difficult in some places and some people might disagree with my opinion but from my own experience I have always tried and always had a good response as a result.
8. Food is wonderful – I was lucky to be brought up in a household where I was taught to try a little of everything and this has stood me well in many of the countries I have visited. I don’t particularly enjoy lentils or aurbigine but in Turkey when we went to a local persons house for dinner thats exactly what we got served – Lentil soup and stuffed aurbergines and I loved them! Some of the local foods I have enjoyed eating while away travelling are: Potato dumplings, Swedish meatballs, Souerkraut, Falafels, Gozleme, Gyros, Fondue, Rosti, Gelati, Tagines, Goulash, Belgian waffles, Fava, Tomato balls, Baklava, Dolmades, Tzatziki, Moussaka…but I will stop now since I am making myself hungry!!!
9.Sunrise and sunset truly are the best time to be up and about – Some of my most favourite moments are sitting with a glass of wine in hand watching the sun go down or even the time in Egypt where we got up and down to the hot air balloon field in time to see the sunrise – one word, INDREDIBLE
10.New Zealand will always be my home – No matter where I am, I never get that feeling of peace and relief like I do on the approach into Auckland Airport. While I love to get out there and travel around and I have loved the experience of living overseas for a few years, I can’t wait to be back home.
If you have made it all the way through, well done! I promise not to have such a heavy post for a while…Thanks!!!