A friend recently asked me why I am so eager to travel. I realized that was a good question as I tried to sort out for myself why I am so drawn to explore European cities. I could give the usual reasons of looking for adventure, desiring to experience a new culture, or just wanting to keep growing and learning. Of course, my urge to travel in Europe is for all of these reasons. But it’s more than that.
I suppose the longing to go abroad began early. As a child I read a great deal and was particularly interested in stories about people, both true biographies and fictional characters. It was not so much the actions or storyline, but rather the descriptions of daily life that kept me reading. I imagined myself as part of the story and dreamed of living far away from my usual environment. Like many young girls, I was particularly fascinated with castles and palaces and the lives of royalty. No muddy serf shack or the life of a peasant for my imaginary travels!
For my working years, I had limited time and resources to travel as well as having responsibilities to others. Now I’m blessed with enough time and health to seek out some of those places I read about as a youngster, both the castles and palaces of childhood memory as well as museums, stores, and interesting architecture of interest to my more adult self.
I’m finding that I’m a somewhat different person when I’m in an unfamiliar city where I don’t know the streets or the language. I walk everywhere and use public transportation. I seem to use my senses more fully while navigating from one place to another. I’m forced to figure out situations like how to find my way back to the hotel when I’ve forgotten both its name and location or when I find myself short of food money. Just getting from one place to another often presents interesting challenges and these experiences fuel my desire for even more adventures.
Traveling in Europe seems to awaken a desire to watch people more carefully as I fall into a different daily rhythm. Each place has its own tempo and becoming one with that rhythm is part of the fun. Perhaps most importantly, though, I meet such interesting people as I travel. Although I have little comfort with languages other than English, many Europeans speak English effortlessly so conversations can be quite detailed and interesting. If someone’s English isn’t so easy, we can still communicate fairly well with pointing and speaking slowly while using many different words. Some of the conversations I’ve had during travel remain as precious jewels in memory years afterward.
All this thinking about travel and remembering some wonderful past adventures, I think it’s time to begin thinking about planning another travel adventure…