Friday, January 20, 2012

Experience VS Documentation

So it seems that I have a looooot of trouble taking the time to write about my travel experiences. I feel like there's so much I want to say, in so much detail, that I have no idea where to start. I feel overwhelmed and, in turn, I don't write anything at all, which is the both the easiest and the worst thing you can do as a traveller who intends to document her adventures.
Oh well, better late than never, right?
I've been in Europe for almost 4 months now and looking back, I have done and seen a lot of things.

I have been to Edinburgh for the first time, where the architecture and landscape was beautiful. While I was visiting in late November, there was a Christmas market set up, filled with German holiday specialties including marzipan, gingerbread cookies, a vegetarian pasta called Spaetzle with the consistency of dumplings and a heavenly cheesiness...You could also get waffles, mulled wine, chocolate pastries filled with whipped cream that I later learned were called tête de nègre (or "Negro Head") in French. I can't believe such a racist name has stuck!
If you're looking for something to do when it's raining in Edinburgh (which is pretty much all the time if it's not hailing, as I had the pleasure of experiencing), the National Museum is amazing! It has several floors covering many different themes including the animal kingdom, the history of Scottish peoples...and I can't even tell you what else because I only got so far in 3 hours! Needless to say, you can easily spend an entire afternoon here.

After Edinburgh, I popped over to London for a few days. I had been there as a child but I didn't remember much of anything from my first visit, so I was happy to go back now. I was in touch with old high school friends, Steph and Antoine who are recently married (congrats!) and live in a nice apartment in Shoreditch. Steph was an excellent guide and took me all over town by foot to see Piccadilly Circus, Trafalgar Square, Wellington Arch by Hyde Park (where they had a humongous Christmas market/amusement park), Buckingham Palace, Westminster Abbey, Big Ben, London Bridge...I later went to see the Tower of London via Tower Bridge on my own...gorgeous view at night! It was exciting to be a tourist in London for a day but it was particularly nice to be back in touch with friends that I had been out of contact with for quite a while.
I'm really grateful at how accomodating and welcoming Steph and Antoine were when I went to visit. It's amazing to be able to see old friends in many different places whose path crosses with yours again. It has been a great experience seeing old and recent friends alike, but also meeting people from completely different backgrounds throughout my trip.

As intimidating as traveling alone used to seem, I have learned to appreciate how many opportunities it has given me to be spontaneous and encounter so many interesting people. For those looking for a challenge and to test yourself as a person, I definitely recommend traveling on your own to hostels, where you are likely to meet people around your age who have at least one thing in common with you: a passion for travel and new experiences!