Looking out across the calm Lisbon shore, I am moved by the memories that brim to mind. It is mid-year already and time to reflect on all I have seen and experienced in my last 188 consecutive days of travelling.
You would think that after six months, I would be used to living this reality of new cultures and places and people, but honestly, I am still marvelling at the fact, and often struggling to keep cool about it all. With every new place I feel as though I’ve started a new chapter, inherently linked to all the other travel adventures, but ultimately a new, unique, defining experience that I can file under ‘this is why life is wonderful’.
Looking back, I’m astounded that in the last 188 days I’ve experienced climates between –20C and 45C, explored ten countries, learnt how to ski, walked hundreds of kilometres on the Camino de Santiago, slept outside, slept on couches, slept on floors, in a campervan, in a tent, in hostels, hotels, luxury suites, trains, planes, and buses. I’ve attempted to learn and communicate in at least seven foreign languages. I’ve met scores of amazing people with amazing stories. It is all a bit ridiculous really.
In the past two weeks alone I’ve been bouncing around all over the place. At the end of June I was exploring Southern Spain with friends, walking in Ronda, lazing in La Herradurra, gawking at buildings in Granada and Cordoba. Then, with a train to Algeciras and a ferry to Tangier, I was in Morocco, where I explored the exotic medinas and souks of Tangier, Fez and Marrakech, before camping in the Sahara with Berber desert-dwellers. And now, after four consecutive days of transit, I’ve found myself in Lisbon, Portugal (via Madrid, Spain) where I’m determine to stay put, regroup and chill out for at least a week.
In the last few weeks, it has become apparent that even while living my dream life, even while collecting those ‘this is why life is wonderful’ moments, happiness does not come automatically. Sure, most days I can’t help but smile ear-to-ear, feeling grateful and relaxed and free. Some days I’m like a jumping bean, uncontainable in my state of enthusiasm. But, as in everyday life, there are still some travel days that find me bewildered by logistics, overwhelmed by culture shock, transit-weary, mildly unwell or homesick for my family, friends and familiar life. There are some days when I fail to note the full glory of the experience, too wrapped up in documenting or writing for deadlines or planning for the next leg. And, like everyday life, there are days when I must be careful to appreciate the joys, accept the mishaps as lessons, remember that feeling a little worn out is not an excuse to assume a jaded face.
As I look back at the year, I’d also like to take a moment to say thanks to all of you. Sharing my travels is an absolute joy, amplified all the more by the feedback, stories, tips and kind words you leave on my blog along the way. You make my day often, so thanks for that.
Also, a warm hello to all my new followers, who have subscribed for updates just last week, after reading my Freshly Pressed post about Cycling in San Sebastian. Welcome and thanks for following! I hope you enjoy my travels as much as I do.
So, that’s my little reflective piece for the 188 day mark. This week I hope to jot down the adventures I’ve had in the last few weeks and trickle them out to you. But in the meantime, here is a little photographic summary of my travels over the last six months.
January: Australia, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom
February: United Kingdom and Bulgaria
March: United Kingdom – England, Ireland, Scotland and Wales
June: Spain and Morocco
July: Morocco, Spain, Portugal
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