Travel envy

A guest post from Gillian of Ink Paper Pen. I'm so happy to introduce you to Gillian today. Not content with one blog, Gillian is an author on two: creative writerly Ink Paper Pen (fabulous community 5-min writing exercises every Wednesday if you want to join in), and down-the-rabbit-hole-esque Alice Becomes. On top of that, she manages to be a mum to two small boys. But most of all, Gillian is incredibly thoughtful, gentle and downright lovely. And I can personally attest to that!

On a Sunday afternoon not long ago, a group of friends and I were sharing a bottle of wine and a chat about the time we shared together in Edinburgh. I was moved by the reminiscing. Edinburgh is vibrant, beautiful and historical but I have a soft spot for it as it is where I met the person who became the father of my children and my partner. I found myself getting carried away in memories, trying to recall the names of our favourite bars, tiny pubs and restaurants. But my fond recollections were brought screaming to a halt when one friend began to scoff. “You were a lazy traveller in Edinburgh”. I looked at him, baffled, waiting for an explanation. “But you didn’t visit the castle” he continued accusingly, putting his glass down abruptly on the table. “You can’t go to Edinburgh and not visit the castle”.

My scolding friend went on a guided tour of Edinburgh Castle the day he arrived in Scotland.  But in the two years I lived in this glorious city, I didn’t think to officially “visit the castle.” Instead, I walked past it every day, loving the sound of my feet on the cobblestone streets of the city. I read books about the castle’s history while lying in The Meadows on warm afternoons.

I think travelling is an art form. People travel for different reasons. Escapism. Self Discovery. Work. Fun. Inspiration. Spiritual Pilgrimage. All of the above and more.

For me it is about the getting there. The movement. The sleeper train to Bangkok. The bus ride in Borneo. A ferry to Calais. You will find me staring out the window, dreaming and thinking and writing. Absorbing the new sounds, foreign words, different smells and tastes.

Others prefer a guided tour. A good friend and I travelled to Paris together a few years back and we were not a good travelling match. Arguments began over where and what to do. To keep the peace, I begrudgingly followed her up the Eiffel Tower. We reached the top and she snapped away on her camera, pointing out the bright sights of Paris as she went. I had lost my patience hours earlier, somewhere in the never ending lines and sea of snap happy tourists. I wanted to be on the ground, devouring cafe visits interspersed with the discoveries that can only come from wandering without a plan.

It’s funny. The approach to travel is different from person to person but the appeal of travel? Well, that seems to be universal. Most people I know are half way to Barcelona in their minds upon the first mention of Sangria.

This fascinates me. Why do we travel? I suspect it has something to do with the journey we take in our imagination beforehand. And of course the journey we take for many years afterwards. Perhaps embellished in our reverie. Does the reality of travel match the wonder of our imagination? People circumnavigate the globe, all alone, with only the sound of the ocean for company. Others cross deserts and dangerous lands for the experience of driving their motorbike overland. This is more than desiring a holiday.

I love the delicious anticipation and thirst of curiosity. The satisfying feeling that comes with knowing you are going somewhere. I love to stand alone, no longer defined by the people and places around me.

Why do YOU travel?