I’ve thought long and hard of what my first post could be about, on the blog that I’d share with you with trembling heart. Every idea that came to my mind seemed somehow inappropriate for the debut. After all, the first one must be the best – as they say, you only have one chance to make the first impression. No wonder, then, that I’m writing this with my throat strangely squeezed with uneasiness. But one topic kept coming back to me and it proved stubborn enough I decided to tell you about it, about what’s most important for me. So, what are the features of a good journey?
By writing a few words about myself I kind of let you in on my secret meaning of the word „journey” – I understand it very broadly. But it’s not just about some word, and its definition isn’t limited to just saying that you can travel always and everywhere, even within the confines of your own house. After all, that’s what imagination is for, isn’t it? Travelling for me is a bit like a lifestyle, which allows me to have just so much fun out of it. My appetite for new experiences constantly grows, too.
You might be asking yourselves right now: is travelling always just pleasure for her and how to achieve this? I’m not saying that all my trips were in fact perfect or that I never had any unpleasantness happen to me. Of course I had my ups and downs and I did feel disappointed. You can’t avoid that. What’s important, though, is what you can learn from it. So I experienced, went through, pondered, and came to the conclusion that I know now how a good journey looks like. And I’m about to share it with you!
8 features of a good journey
1. I have a choice. I travel because I want to and not because I’m compelled, e.g. by my work delegations. It’s very important as every instance of coercion takes away at least a good chunk of pleasure from a voyage. And it leads us to point no. 2, just as important.
2. I make my own decisions about how my journey will look like. I can decide on every detail, from date to destination, to company (or lack of it). From its duration and what I’ll be doing then to what interesting insights I’ll take out of it.
3. You can travel everywhere. So if you’re not feeling like packing your suitcase this very minute, you can always watch a movie. Or go and see an exhibition, or maybe to some intercultural workshop. Or read a book, meet your friends… there are thousands ways to travel! It’s not just running around with your camera chasing all the monuments in the world. It’s also a conversation, openness towards other people’s otherness. Try it, it’s worth it, seriously. Sometimes, results can exceed your expectations.
4. Traveling on my own. I think it’s a million times more interesting than following a plan set out by someone else. I’m against all kinds of organised group trips with poor effect-to-money ratio. Many times did I experience that travel-agency organised trips are more torment than pleasure even if one is able to squeeze something out of them eventually. Especially for someone who likes to get a feel of the place she’s in instead of just running from one gothic cathedral to another. I like to stand before a painting for two hours (seriously!), stroll around, sit back and relax in a cafe, do some people-watching. That’s why I’m not really convinced by „two hours of free time and don’t be late as the bus is waiting!”. One travels to go through and experience something, not just to mark on the map the myriad countries one has been to.
5. Sharing the emotions. I’ve never travelled solo, I rarely even go alone to the cinema or cultural events. It’s because I have this great need to share thoughts and feelings with another person. In my case it’s most often my Fiancé, sometimes our friends or acquaintances whom we meet e.g. during film festivals. Such sharing of emotions and experiencing things together adds fantastic flavour to life. I recommend it wholeheartedly!
6. Food! Culinary travels is one of the most pleasant things in the world and there will be a separate section on the blog written by my Fiancé and dedicated to this aspect of our voyages. Local cuisine specific to a given country (especially those famous for delicious food) is always a mandatory point of a trip. There’s no good journey without it. It’s really worth getting to know beforehand what you need to taste in a given place (and where exactly), whereas it’s not worth skimping on food (of course I’m not talking about spending astronomical amounts of money in superluxurious restaurants). That way you will have all these great tastes and flavours to remember.
You don’t always have to travel abroad as there are places in many cities that serve delicacies from all over the world. Obviously, I’m not talking about ubiquitous pizzerias (their pizzas don’t really compare to genuine Italian ones in any meaningful way). These are sometimes places run by foreigners or maybe those where foreigners are chefs or cooks. Anyway, it is entirely possible to find genuine foreign cuisine in your city. It’s also a good idea to try and cook something yourself and/or sign up for some intercultural culinary workshops.
7. Photography. I’m quite a sentimental person and I like to recall nice moments. I am also a bit of a collector, so I like to make sure they stay with me. I freeze them in the photos and some end up printed and framed so I have them by me everyday. Others, stored on my computer’s drive, I come back to from time to time. And when I do, the journey starts all over again – I once again wander through places I’ve been to and recall events of the time. So you don’t have to be all geared up with the best tech, and you don’t have to know the purpose of all the weird controls on your camera. Sometimes the auto mode or just a smartphone is enough. A good voyage guaranteed. And so many things to show to your family and friends!
8. Lose the map. Or maybe just drop your detailed schedule. I know it’s sometimes hard to resist the urge to see all the monuments recommended in National Geographic guides, especially if you’re somewhere for the first time. Once you step off beaten touristic paths (popular restaurants included), however, the place’s true face will reveal itself to you. The crowd, with its myriad languages, will thin out, and the restaurant you’ll peek into will be filled with natives. Maybe you won’t make it to Forum Romanum or Louvre, but you’ll feel the atmosphere of gorgeous tiny alleys. Observe the inhabitants, maybe you’ll get to chat with one for a while. Roaming around cities and little towns is simply marvellous! Don’t follow the map, and if you have to have it to get to your sleepover place, at least don’t plan every day sunrise to sundown. Just go with the flow!
That’s what a good journey means to me. Of course it doesn’t mean that if you’re travelling alone, always with a map and a detailed plan, your voyages will turn out to be failures. Or even that you can’t take any enjoyment out of a work-trip to a distant place (you can, I checked). It’s just that in my case these eight points always result in exceptional experiences. And to experience another person or a different culture – this is what I like the most.
What are your ways to ensure that you’ll be able to say “Now, that was a really good journey!”?
Translation: Robert Mróz