I don't exactly know what's come over me in the last months of my life, but I've become quite a plan-ahead-type of traveler. It's kind of freaking me out, but also makes me really excited, because it means I know I have a lot of adventures coming up. Before, I was the kind of person who would show up in a country without having done any research, and likely leave it without having done or seen a number of the main sights. It's still a given that I will wander around snapping pictures of things because they look cool, but having no idea what they are if there isn't a sign posted or couchsurfing host to tell me, but I've also started adding an element of pre-trip research to my life. Here's a couple prime examples for you of my typical travel style...
My friend and I were in London back in 2009, walking around, taking pictures, enjoying the sights, but hadn't looked in a single guidebook or at any info online. So we're wandering, and we come upon this massive clock tower. Now, we knew Big Ben was in London, that much at least was in our brains, but we didn't know what it looked like or where in the city it was. So we're standing there, across the street from what we assume has to be Big Ben, because, "It's gotta be, I can't imagine there being another clock tower bigger than that one," but entirely unsure. But we decide we'd better get a picture with it in the background to be safe, and ask a passing person to snap one for us. To which they respond, "Oh, you mean you want a picture with Big Ben?" To which we responded, after a glance and ha-ha smile at the other, "Yes, yes. Exactly. We'd like a picture with Big Ben." (Insert sly grins here.)
Another more recent example, was when I was moving to Mallorca for two months two summers back to be an au pair. I didn't bother to look up any information, because I figured, yeah, I'll get there, see it, and sort it out when I'm there. After all, I'll have two months and be living with a family. I had only set one requirement for the location of the family I was to au pair for: that they live near the beach. So naturally, when I was contacted by a family in Mallorca, and looked it up to discover that it was an island, I thought, "Hmm...I had just been thinking of skipping down to Cadiz (Southern Spain), but Mallorca...an island... that's got beaches, that could work. Ok, let's go!" And you can imagine my surprise when I was coming in on the plane, seeing mountains out on one side and water on the other! Big time score, but also information I could have easily come by simply by Googleing the place.
Yep, I'm more of a "show up and see what happens, who we meet, where we go" type of traveler. But ever since this summer, when my German friend kinda forced me into planning a trip to Norway in advance (by about three weeks, which was well in advance for me, and very, very short notice for her, being that she's German and all;), I've been booking so far ahead! I've been buying flights months in advance, and actually looking up images of the country or city beforehand, developing some Trip Goals. This can be beneficial, but it does concern me a little to eliminate entirely the "how I'll feel in the moment" factor.
I am not so keen on making plans ahead of time, and especially not of buying future flights when I'm going to be on a somewhat open-ended trip. This is simply because, I can be completely amped for most things the moment I hear about them, but then when the time comes, who knows where I'll be or what I'll want to do instead! New options are constantly coming, especially on adventures, so how can one decide ahead of time what to do, when they haven't all come in yet?
However, with my summer travel plans, I'm thinking a little differently...
I have officially entered into my last four months living/working in Spain, and in July, will be moving back home till after the New Year. So, I've got just 5 1/2 months left to travel this part of the globe, before I kiss it good-bye for a while. I know I'm going to spend the first 16 days of June in Israel and Istanbul with my grandma, mom, and sister, but then they will leave, and I'll have about a month left to travel before I head back to Cali.
Originally, I was planning on spending the time doing some thorough backpacking in Croatia and Italy, but then, I looked at a map, and saw that a massive hitchhiking trip from Istanbul to Madrid might just be the right way to end my time over here. My route would take me through Northern Turkey and into Bulgaria, then onto Serbia, back down to Montenegro, through Bosnia and Herzegovina, along the Croatian coast to Slovenia and on through Northern Italy, involve an elongated stop in Milan to visit friends and go to the World Expo, and finish with some final stops along France's eastern coast before entering Spain in the Catalunya region, at which point I'd cut west to Madrid and make it in time for my flight home on the 15th! Phew! But then again, some other new, shiny idea came into my processing realms...
The Be-In Gathering in Idanha-a-Nova, Portugal, where BOOM Festival is held, and much of my life changed last summer. It's a one weekend healing and organic trance festival/gathering, and my entire body got wiggly when I read about it. I actually almost just bought a ticket to it to make sure I had no choice but to go, before thinking twice, and closing out all windows showing my bank account, ticket buying links, and flight prices. The only thing is, I would have to leave Istanbul on the 16th or 17th, fly to Madrid, and catch a lift to Portugal that day or the next in order to make it to the Boom Land by the 18th. From there, I would hitch to Madrid or Lisbon after the gathering, take a cheap flight to Rome, and spend three weeks exploring Italy before flying back to Madrid to get my "final flight" "home".
I cannot express how blessed I feel to even have these options laid before me.
I Am Gratitude.
I Am Amazed.
I Am Praising God for All Blessings.
But I am also thinking,
"Oh my gosh. How am I supposed to decide on these options? They're both so sweet!"
The first option of only Croatia and Italy got tossed out as soon as I looked at a map and saw the sweet possibility of hitching all the way back to Spain. Especially considering most of the countries I would be hitting are very easy to catch lifts in, the option becomes even more appealing. But the moment I saw the Be-In Gathering information, my energy ignited, and I almost lost my mind. But honestly, just through the process of writing this post and looking at that tramp route, I think I've decided to nix Be-In, and go for thumbing way my around some countries.
Festivals have always been a huge part of my life, and will continue to be well past the time that I can actually dance (I pray that day never comes), but to finish out my [by then] two and a half years time abroad with a One Month Hitch Trip through 10 countries... I mean... I think few things could call an adventurer's name more than that!
And so it appears, that once more, writing has proven to be my therapy, and I just worked out my own hang up through the process of laying it down on a blank page. Happy you could all come along for this sorting process. I think Harry and the Hat would be proud. :)
So, that means, the next bit of business is: collecting up some human treasures to help make it the Final Trip of The Chapter of a lifetime! See you on the road beauties!
Thanks for coming along on this mental ride of mine, I hope you're as excited about life as I am! And if not, I recommend doing something about it. We've only got one of these great things we call life, ya might as well enjoy yours!
Extensive Blessings, Love & Light
From Above & Into You