Tag Archives: travel stories

Crossing Borders. Eating Pretzels. Wearing Masks And Chats With Mates.

We crossed three borders today. Starting from home in The Netherlands into Germany, through to Switzerland and on and into Italy. We ate pretzels, wore our masks for toilet breaks (first time for little ones, it was fine they get it). I had some really awesome what’s ap. and Insta private chats (each one significant for reasons that are unfolding, will come back to these in future writing). Flow though friends, always trust the flow, act on the gut instinct to talk.

Not once did we show our passports or face border control. I love the European Union Schengen zone. We did have to buy our 40 Swiss franc road sticker (this allows us to use the roads  for a year rather than tolls). The tolls start on the Italian roads (not as exy as French roads).

We drove past lakes and streams and towards mountains. Oh my heart danced when we arrived in the Alps. We crossed them via tunnels. Aaaah it’s a beautiful way to travel. As is hiking in or taking trains in Europe! Italy was our destination so we enjoyed the scenic route in. It felt like one freeway down.

And there was the oddness of the Corona. Naturally. It’s in our current lives. We stopped only for petrol and toilets. Masked up, gloves for petrol and hand sanitiser. Maybe over the top but this is a highly contagious virus and we don’t want to get sick. In Germany masks are compulsory. Switzerland not, but many wore masks.

We pack food, lots of food. *BIG TRAVEL TIP* We travel with a car fridge. Also had robes at our ‘motel’-  honeymoon style, the boys were beside themselves (future Christmas present idea maybe). Wraps are our go to for a road trip. We had enough for our roadside motel dinner too, so no need to go and find dinner anywhere. We also pack cherry tomatoes, mini cucumbers, apples, bananas, popcorn, chippies, biscuits and  sweeties. Drink bottles for each of us.

We pre-booked the motel so we knew how far we had to come, we  wanted to cross ALL the borders today. I’ve been watching Europe. I am sure we’re good here, no surprises I can predict. But who knows with the pandemic, things change. It’s the risk we take travelling. I wouldn’t be travelling the other way through Belgium, France and Spain right now (daily changes there).

Husband, legend who did all the driving. Mostly because he hates being a passenger is working from ‘home’ this week. We will leave early tomorrow and arrive before lunch when his first zoom meeting is scheduled. Is this not something interesting?! Changing up the home office to a Tuscan farmhouse villa for a week before taking a week off! Heck we could even stay on in Italy and he could work another week before we have to come back for school.

#writingstreak

#day27/31

#fromaroadsidemotel

#hopeyouareallwell

 

 

 

Under The Tuscan Sun.

‘Life Offers You A Thousand Chances. All You Have To Do Is Take One.’ – Under The Tuscan Sun.

I have a little longing for the is’ness of a place that is just a Sydney to Melbourne drive away. I promised her I’d return when it was safe to support her people. With three weeks of school holidays left and weeks of rain forecast we made plan C today, or is it plan Z! We’re going to take a trip South and into one of my favourite member states. I finally committed. It finally felt right.

I’ve been so unsure about how to travel or if we should travel in these surreal summer times. So we sat it out, cancelled all the plans (as many of us have) and decided to wait it out and see. It was the right thing to do and I have no regrets. I didn’t want to contribute to the movement of people at a time when perhaps we shouldn’t move. I needed to wait, to ‘be’ where I was. If we did travel I wanted it to be safely, gently, sustainably and as always slowly. 

Yesterday as I watched my son paddle off into the lake I think I knew deep down it was time to leave for a while. I’m happy pottering but the kids need time off grid, away from the fallback of screen time and into a nature experience where they bank resilience and we bank family stories. We will travel in a way that is mindful and also supportive of communities that need support. I think it matters that those of us who like to explore continue to work for a caring approach to travel. 

We only have such a short time until life changes. Our eldest two are 16 and 14 and now while they’re still family holiday kids I want to soak it up. My husband needs a break from the bedroom office he’s sat in since Feb and will likely sit in until next year. This is our season, this is our time. When school returns the kids will be in the situational noise that is life, and soon after Autumn will arrive to take us into the deep cold.

It feels sad to see my family and friends at home in their second quarantine, it is always hard to watch people doing it tough at home. Aussies here are beginning to feel increasingly like we’re getting locked out of Australia and away from our families for a long time to come. Perhaps the situation here will again take us into some form of quarantine, it’s all so uncertain. So for now I will choose to continue to live in the world alongside the virus, safely and responsibly of course. 

In a few days we’ll make our way and road trip down to a Tuscan farmhouse in the middle of Italy. Off the regular tourist trail and in the middle of two small hill top villages. Next to a national park and far from the coast (by Italian standards), we’ll be in the guts. Further than Melbourne to Syd, maybe Melb to Coff’s.

We’re going to park ourselves for a few weeks to immerse in the local produce, language and is’ness of each other and the Italian warmth. In many ways we will continue to live in the small bubble we are currently in, but where we can also experience the reason we gave up so much to move here. European life. Perhaps I’ll write something longer, perhaps not. I’m excited and I’m nervous, they’re like the same thing sometimes. It feels good to feel, to ponder, to be doesn’t it. 

 

P.s. completely utter shit that I get to write about something so frivolous and luxurious as to making a decision to travel sth. I know. I struggle with sharing travel because of the complete privilege of it. But I guess we’ve been on a journey together this month and this is where I’m at and hopefully I can be a voice for less pillaging type of travel, more soul involvement. 

 

#writingstreak

#day24/31

#finallycommitted

#allroadsleadtoItalyrightnow

 

 

 

 

Magic And Mermaids.

The most beautiful thing about holidays is the freedom to dream. Whether it’s at home or away. The escape from all the ‘real’ life distractions that opens the space for our imagination to run free. Isn’t the endless summer of childhood the most magical time.

An escape from the noise (and the desire to save and understand the world in her case) that allows the opening of a kind of mystical place where girls (and boys) can dream of things, perhaps of becoming mermaids. And the wonder of the summer season that allows the play in a setting which can indulge such fantasies. 

A time to light candles and brew the moon water required to perform the spells to find their tails. Is it the time they’ve been spending in the water, the freedom they have to cycle to this big new free world of theirs, or simply finding the friend who dreams with you that allows such wonderful indulging in dreaming, in feeling imaginative and very real joy?

Today I don’t doubt my parenting. I don’t doubt my belief in taking kids off grid, in giving them freedom to get out of their (my) comfort zone in nature. Kids often know their limits better than adults. My job has been to ensure the skills and boundaries are there to be safe and to create a life experience that encourages the freedom to play and dream. I’ve always known how important it is for all of them, but particularly one of them to know this world of escape exists.

#writingstreak

#day23/31

#atransitionday

#wemaytakeadrivesouth

#wherethemountainsmeetthesea

#wherethefarmersgrowtheolives

#wherethekidscanswiminmountainstreams

 

How Much Will Change In The World Of Travel? Have you?

How much will change in the world of travel? Have you changed? I have noticed a mixed vibe here. Our borders are open in Europe and we have the freedom to travel if we choose. There are colour codes placed on countries and our government has advised they won’t be repatriating citizens if they get stuck. As with our lockdown our government has an expectation that we are intelligent humans who will do the right thing. I guess for me I just don’t feel that I have to travel, also let’s be honest I don’t fall short. Gran Canaria in Feb and Denmark for New Year’s. Travel for me is about getting lost in the experience of all the senses and there’s just no ‘real’ escaping the corona now.  Unless you go wild. 

Over the weekend I donned the mask for the first time. I was at the airport! The airport here is on the train line and functions as more than an airport. I had to get a birthday watch resized. We also had a beer and a pizza while we waited. We were armchair traveller watchers. (Obviously a birthday is an exception for dry July, and maybe a friend’s 50th tonight.) The travellers were mostly business, the push a trolley bag and walk at speed types. There were young people, youngish singles and couples and the odd family, mostly with young kids.

As you know, so far we’ve decided to remain home for summer. We did take a weekend away in the Ardennes the week before school officially ended. It was an easy and safe trip. It felt right for us. We self catered, stayed in a cabin, played tennis alone, hiked, cycled and basically chilled. My conflict with staying home and the thing that pulls me to look for somewhere is this kind of break for the kids. I love getting the kids away and in nature. All of us together. If we had a camper for sure we’d be hiding out somewhere, we’d go wild.

Our friends from Mediterranean countries have all gone home. There are the diehards we need, we must travel types and the let’s take a safe close to home short break types who have left for the summer. I’ve heard of Iceland but mostly it’s Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Spain. Many are driving where possible. Going home was not an option for us. Our Island home is somewhat closed. Technically we could have gone if we’d been prepared to quarantine in a hotel for two weeks. Turns out that wasn’t really safe. Basically it all seemed too hard. And yet it is a paradox because for me the really hard thing is being away from my family for so long. So hard or harder. We went with what felt right which was not to travel. It was never a really hard choice, just the reality is hard.

I think about a post pandemic travel world. I must admit my desire to fly less in response to global warming is real. But now I wonder if what always felt safe will also have changed. I love Asia and would love to travel Vietnam. I’m not sure I will in a hurry. Even though they have managed the Corona well, I wonder about being so far from home in this new normal. And new it is. There is no return to ‘normal’.  Will I feel as carefree as I once did about going anywhere. I went to Thailand 8 weeks pregnant with my fourth child. I’d had a miscarriage before so I knew that could happen but I just didn’t have any fear of things not working out. Perhaps it was an age thing. Or perhaps this massive life event really takes us into our fragility. 

The travellers at the airport appeared carefree. Most wearing a mask, some removing as soon as they were allowed. This was the same as the train. It’s only mandatory on the train. I wondered if travel is one of those things that is simply about getting back on the horse? The supermarket was like that for me. I didn’t go for 7 odd weeks. Not for fear of getting the virus but the vibe was weird. In the week before quarantine was coming I just couldn’t stand the fear driven anger and rush. So I stayed away. 

As long as we move safely I see the importance of creating income for small businesses. Most people here are going close to home. International travel here is like interstate travel in Australia and often even closer. I see the real need for some people to take a break to be nearer (at a distance) to people. I understand people returning home when you are isolated in a country that is not your own. I’m just not ready to join yet.

I’m definitely getting intentional about how travel will look for us in the future. We will travel again and embrace the wild travel we love. And I will save my carbon points to fly home – I need and my kids need to stay connected with our Island home. My confidence and desire for world travel may be changed though. I’ve never subscribed to a bucket list as I don’t want to HAVE to do something at any cost. Of course though there  are many places I would have liked to visit that I now may never. And that seems blissfully ok.

 

 

#writingstreak

#day17/31

#onthehomerun

#ponderingaloud

#tavel

 

 

 

 

Travel To Learn Some More. Stop. Process. Reflect. Grow. Repeat.

Travel To Learn Some More. Stop. Process. Reflect. Grow. Repeat.

I was talking to a friend recently about travel and how we hope for our children to experience it in this way. When I hiked the camino I was in awe of the young people who had decided to take the time to go for a long walk. Equally, I was in awe of the newly retired walkers who were walking. Both of them were walking to take the time before what comes next.

I know we can’t pick up and travel right now but I guess I like the idea of this time to travel into new ideas and to perhaps explore what we feel curious about, what grounds us, what takes us home inside, what sets off the fireworks under our skin. Granted we are on our summer break so I have this luxury of time. As much as I thought I could write during quarantine – no way. Home school took all my free energy! Well home schooling the 8 year old did.

The sequence though, I love the sequence. While my friend and I talked about it in relation to travel I think it’s life. And travel is something we do at home and afar. It is travelling further with our mind, expanding our horizons, hearing new opinions, connecting deeper, learning the ‘somethings’ that grow us.

When I look back to my time of quarantine I kept my fire going by running everyday. It was in this time that my learning happened. It was here I grew, here where my view of the world and myself began to change. The running wasn’t the teacher, it was the travel. The vehicle – the movement, the space, the reflection in the quiet stillness that allowed my mind to open combined with the releasing of the tension with each hard step.

Unless our minds are open it is difficult to learn, to reflect. And without the travel I would have sat in the same cycle I started quarantine in. I was a bit pissed off actually. Annoyed with some people and their attitudes and behaviours. And I was also scared of extending myself, of seeking the next phase of my learning and honestly I wasn’t sure how to or what to try next.

It isn’t comfortable to always have an open mind. Shit no. It’s far more comfortable to drink, scroll, eat, binge, try to control, lecture, buy new things, sit in guilt, judgement, pity, blame, whatever, you know basically numb your way through your own discomfort and fears. Who doesn’t need a bit of numbing sometimes. And all of these are cool things right!

We learn, get inspired by and catch up with others from the scrolling, binging and we enjoy the eating and the drinking and new things are nice. It’s also good down time! Who wants to think ALL the time. It’s only when these numb’ers become glutenous pursuits that they are dangerous. And yes for the record I believe travel can be one of the great glutenous pursuits. Just as I believe chasing wellness can be (stories for another post).

Now, guilt et al. they aren’t fun, down time things – they are creeps. Creeping in to hold us back. But  the numb’ers and the creepers in my experience they work together.  Deal with the numbers and you can face the creepers. Face the creeper and boom you can grow. Perhaps sometimes we just need the nothing, to travel the path with the unknown answer. Then when we’re not busy numbing we can face the blockers – the creeps.

I have my vices, my cycles, my preferred modes and creeps to keep me still and safe from discomfort. They’d love nothing more than to hold me back from honest reflection, from thinking about why things are pissing me off and of stepping into new things or trying harder with the stuff scares me.

Cruise cycles, we all find ourselves in them, aren’t we always in one cycle or another. They are normal. There is a time for stopping in cruise mode, for a while. Until it’s not. Until you’ve exhausted where you are, when you’re done in that place and you need to learn some more. To peek out wider and to grow a little. And this peeking, this travel doesn’t always have to mean getting on a plane. It’s just travelling somewhere different in life, it’s doing something differently.

This corona journey still continues for us in our different countries and in different phases. Of course what I write, my opinions and how I experience this time comes from my perspective and experience. I’m a middle aged, white woman in a healthy relationship with (generally)  happy kids. I have agency, choices and privilege. I like not being invited to things and I love nothing more than a free agenda. Our income hasn’t been affected and none of us have yet to experience illness from the virus (that we know of). We experienced quarantine with a great degree of freedom here in The Netherlands. I also love a bit of self growth, to understand where I’ve been and to continue to seek a gentler more meaningful way. All of these things give me a security which makes reframing this time easier. I understand that.

And so from my personal experience.

I like to think travelling this corona journey has made me a better person. That it has taught me to see and hear people not only from my perspective but from theirs. I hope I have become a little less judgemental, a little more appreciative, more understanding and that I’ve been reminded to be more empathetic, more sympathetic. I hope I will be better at putting myself in the shoes of others. Those in trickier situations and also those with whom I share my everyday life. I hope I am more forgiving. I think if I’m more forgiving I’ll be kinder. And kinder is something that matters.

I also hope I am courageous enough to try harder, to step up, to be myself without fear. I’ve learnt that not every battle is worthy of my energy. I don’t want to hide behind the numb’ers and the creepers that keep me small. Just you know when I need that time! The time to sit on the couch to eat chocolate and do nothing but watch a series.

Lol I know! But seriously, I hope I can be this person, my deepest, wildest self and I hope I can hold onto the better person bit while I’m going there. So when you ask where in the world do I want to travel. I’d say there, from here. Writing everyday is a step in that direction for me. It is also a combination of the process and reflection part of my learning from this corona journey. I think I am passed needing to stop. And already I’m travelling some more trying new things to learn new stuff.

We’ve all travelled through 2020 in an unexpected way, all of us on the trip, the tour bus to the great unknown. But none of us are experiencing it the same way. Who knows how this corona time will pan out, where it is going and when it will end. All we can to is travel it, learn from it and hopefully grow into what comes next. I hope you’re able to find a way to keep your fire going, to travel slow, to find the space you need to see a little light, enough to allow the sparks to flicker and guide you towards the learning, the laughter, the what it is you need from this time and the coping. And for those of us who have the privilege, the safety and the freedom to feel life in a joyful way let’s be kinder together. Because it’s all in the BEING really isn’t it.

 

#writingstreak

#day8/31

#writingthroughimpostersyndrome

#justkeepwriting

#causeitgivesmethefirecrackerexcitement

#doneisgoodenough