So on Monday 30th July, at precisely midnight, I set off for the airport, boarded a plane and found myself beginning a five week long adventure – and it really was an adventure! – in Amsterdam, city of diamonds sex, drugs and getting wasted. Five weeks, thirty-four trains, six flights, three cars and one coach later, I have covered eleven countries, twenty-nine cities, six villages, one lost city (Pompeii), made 1000 new friends, taken 28,000 photographs, shot twelve still-to-be-developed rolls of film and filled three journals. I am exhausted.
I love flying. I love taking photographs out of the window, even if it is just another cloud, another field, another wing of another plane. I’ve never been nervous about flying and I’m terrible at waiting in airports because I just want to get on the damn plane! I love hovering between two places, being neither here nor there, I can leave all of my plans and my worries and my responsibilities on land and spend a few hours not having to deal with anything besides ‘do I have enough cash for another coffee?’
In fact this is how I feel about travelling as a whole. Even when I’d arrive at a place an hour before sunset with no map, no idea which part of the city I am in and no idea where I would be sleeping that night, I have never felt so calm and care-free in my life. I think something to do with not having a working phone the whole time I was abroad had something to do with that. I came home to find 592 texts, 293 missed calls and 5 hours 37 minutes of voice mail, which I am still churning through now, but it was so worth it.
Above is a view of Amsterdam, below is Venice.
I stayed with a lot of locals while travelling – all of whom, although I have said it 1000 times already, I will say again – thank you thank you thank you!! Thank you Yamandu, Nique, Vanda, Florian, Mike, Mallory, Jonathan & Pauline and Phelgo, & his lovely roomates. I would definitely recommend to anyone that would listen that whenever possible, stay with locals when travelling! I was invited to birthday parties, concerts, general get-togethers with friends, I was shown quaint little cafes that only locals know about and shown around the city through the eyes of people who have lived there for most, if not all of their lives. If it was not for the amazing people who I have met I would not now be able to say that I have explored Venice in a speedboat, nearly crashed said speedboat into a 500 year old building in Venice, had my James Bond/Indiana Jones moment fighting a ‘bad guy’ on the back of a speedboat (yes he only stole my friend’s wallet but I am going to call it my James Bond/Indiana Jones moment!). I wouldn’t have zipped around Madrid on a scooter, discovered tomato, cheese and olive oil ice cream in Spain (it tastes as bad as it sounds) and god… I could go on!
For me the best part of travelling wasn’t simply the fact that I was travelling, it wasn’t the lack of responsibility or even the freedom of being able to fuck off and do my own thing and having no one to answer to or no lingering thoughts about boring adult things in the back of my mind, but I love those moment memories, like waking up to this at 4am on an Amsterdam to Prague night train, somewhere in Germany and annoying all of the passengers who were sleeping in the corridor by clambering over them with my noisy camera to grab some snaps.
Or sitting on the steps of Piazzale Michelangelo at sunset, listening to a guy play guitar and coincidentally play all of my favourite songs while I eat raspberries and chocolate and sip Italian white wine and doze against the stone steps, smelling the flowers and herbs and just feeling blissful.
Or just stumbling across sights like this in Florence (straight from camera):
and this one over Prague:
and this in Budapest :
Honestly, anyone who tries to say that life is anything other than bloody fantastic, seriously, open your eyes.