Friday, February 24, 2012

Travel Milestones

What things have I accomplished/experienced/visited/eaten that are considered quintessential travel moments?

I’m starting a list right now:

Eiffel Tower:Climbed it, age 5
Eaten: French escargot, Czech goulash, Russian borsch, Spanish paella, Panamanian ceviche, Thai noodles, Swiss crepes, German pretzels/schnitzel/maultaschen, Saudi lamb and rice, Sri Lankan curry
Great Barrier Reef: Snorkled, age 6
Cyprus: ate a hamburger larger than my 6 year old head
Charles Bridge: Prague, shopped til I dropped
Panama: hiked through the Barro Colorado rainforest/island preserve
Panama Canal: boat tour through it
Madrid: watched group football in Plaza de Colon, toured the city, authentic flamenco
al-Hamra: toured, age 14
Washington DC: Everything- including get lost dozens of times, sit by homeless people in a public library, Georgetown Cupcakes, stalk college students, meet an ambassador (Botswana!), get locked out of the Russian consulate...the list goes on (except the Washington monument)

I'm sure there are many more I’m overlooking…updates to come!


So I thought I would explain the title of my blog, and sort of my philosophy on travel which comes along with it.
Obviously, the title is a play on "Love at First Sight". I basically wanted something kind of cutsey stereotypical Tumblr-y and in a way it's meant to be sarcastic, but I really do like the sentiment behind it.
I have always loved travel. I boarded my first plane before I was 1 year old, and since then I have been abroad by air at least once a year for 10 of my 18 years.
I grew up in Riyadh, KSA and that gave me the wonderful opportunity to become a frequent flier. Thus, many of my fondest childhood memories revolve around travel, airports, airplanes, here is a list of all the great things from my childhood of traveling and how they have carried on into the rest of my life so far.
  • Making blanket forts in between two empty seats with my sister
    • I now always have the urge...but I can't remember the last time I was on a 747+ with enough correctly positioned empty seats for that
  • Going to the Riyadh airport and being enamored with the gorgeous hexagon tiles and incredible fountain (at least it was impressive when I was a child)
    • I have high standards for airport aesthetics
  • Coming home to a house that has that special haven't-been-here-in-a-while smell
    • I close every door in my house before I go on a trip to trap in that scent
  • Waking up when it's still dark out and driving to the airport with the ambiance of the night sky but the promise of an entire day ahead of you
    • Before sunrise is my favorite time of day
That's just to name a few! But honestly, my travel as a child and throughout my life so far has given me a certain perspective on the world. I never say vacation, for one, I prefer 'trip'. If you read my post entitled The TRIP, you will realize that. And this one is so special to me it gets to be in all caps! I also don't like to be a tourist, but I love I go with tourista. I think it's important to try and become immersed in local culture as much as possible, and I know it's a cliche but it's a cliche for a reason, right? In summary- travel for me is not about lying on a beach or seeing as many cathedrals as possible in 10 days. Travel for me is the journey, because it's all a journey from the moment you leave for the airport, through the potential language-barrier charades, through trying to figure out the metro map, to the last's all travel and it's all precious and valuable.

"Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover." -Mark Twain


So I finally have booked all my flights, gotten my Eurail pass, and figured out all the passport/visa hassle. I am actually and completely going to Europe! In less than a month...but don't worry, of course the stress and worry don't end here. I have an appointment with the passport agency next week because I unfortunately overlooked the requirement that to receive a Russian visa your passport must be valid for a full six months after your scheduled return date- 5 months and 11 days doesn't cut it. But as soon as I get my expedited passport (for the expedited passport fee) I can apply for my Russian visa (for the expedited visa fee). So as I empty my savings account before I even leave for the airport, I am getting a little apprehensive. I am traveling to Washington, DC three times before I leave- four if you count my actual flight which is from IAD. It's all worth it though! I will be spending 16 glorious days, plus two in transit, in Europe! My rough itinerary:

-South and South Western Germany
-St. Petersburg

I come back on April 9th, which is kind of disappointing as it's the day after Easter which is my favorite holiday! At first I was really stoked to get to spend Easter in Russia with all their traditions, but then I realized that to Orthodox Russia, the holiday isn't until the 15th  =/
But I will instead throw a Western Easter party on the 8th! So that should be an entertaining disaster at least.
The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.
St. Augustine

People as Water

Today I realized that people are like water formations:

some are cold, some are hot

some are salty, some are fresh

some are shallow, some are deep

some are clear, some are murky

some are moving, some are stagnant

I think it’s important to recognize especially the last one in people. I am a mover, I have never been stagnant in my life and if I feel the waters beginning to calm it throws me into a mild state of panic. If you, like me, are a mover, then it can’t be enough to just settle with the stagnant people! Don’t limit yourself, surround yourself with positive influences and examples of the kind of person you want to be. Be like a flowing river, not a murky pond.