The three months I spent in India and Nepal were Incredible, I look back and believe I learnt more life lessons in the past three months than my parents were able to teach me. It wasn’t always easy, I felt anxiety, fear, and sometimes I would find myself in an incredibly difficult situation and think ‘How did I end up here?’ or ‘What the hell am I doing?’ sometimes I thought about running away to Europe early because I might feel safer. But in the end I had goals, there were places I wanted to see and I wasn’t going to let the fact that I am female and potentially vulnerable to stand in the way. I pushed myself to continue and I wouldn’t take anything back. It was hard, rewarding, satisfying and I now feel like I could travel anywhere on my own. I made lifelong friends and memories. Travelling is learning and boy did I learn a lot, more than I asked for.
Its an overwhelming feeling going off the grid for three weeks in the Himalayas and back into general society where people are expected to be contactable 24/7, carry a smartphone in their pocket and post a façade version of themselves on social media. I loathed these expectations and immediately wanted to avoid them and throw away my technologies that eat up our souls these days, instead I made promises to myself that I would not browse Facebook anymore and solely use it as a form of communication between myself and fellow traveller friends around the globe. My Nepali visa was due to expire in four days time following the trek and it was hard for me to decide whether to extend it and stay in Nepal or to head to Europe. I flipped a coin and the answer was Europe. Four days later I was squashed up in economy class eating plastic food and bound for Paris. I couldn’t wait to get stuck into a real chocolate croissant and an endless supply of cheese and wine. France, here I come.
As a complete coincidence, a good friend Fiona was in Paris at the same time travelling around France and the UK with her parents, they invited me to join in their road trip adventure and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity, I had no plans anyway so to jump into a prepared itinerary was a perfect way to ease back into western society. Since I was a teenager I dreamed about sitting in a Paris café with a coffee, chocolate croissant and newspaper while the rain poured down in the streets outside – the time had come, I just needed the worst weather someone could wish for and to find the best café in Paris. Turns out that the bad weather never came and I was extremely picky about exactly where my dream was to be fulfilled that it never happened this time around, but I did manage to get my crummy hands on a chocolate croissant and eat it in the car!
Arriving in Paris I staggered along the streets to the Hostel where I met Fiona, It had been three months since I had seen order on the streets, traffic lights that function and barely heard the beeps of car horns. Paris delivered. We spent the evening drinking champagne and appreciating the beauty of the Eiffel tower as it lit up in the darkness. I only spent one short and sweet night in Paris this time around but will be back in July, It was time to get a taster of the French countryside. We headed through Rennes and onward to a small town called Dinan. The beauty of the French villages incorporates Medieval and Victorian style architecture and each have their own individuality and character. Even specific foods are special to different regions giving variety wherever you travel. The French food had my mouth watering, the villages got me dreaming about owning my own home and the landscape had me wishing I could cycle through the fields. Through Brittany and Normandy we drove before heading over the UK from Caen.
Arriving back into the UK was exciting, after living here for a year it felt quite nostalgic and strange. From Portsmouth we headed south to Cornwall and Lands End, one of the most beautiful areas of the country. Sheep and cows littered the paddocks and farmers drove their tractors along the single lane roads. The contrasting fields of yellow, fluorescent green trees and bright blue skies felt like I was travelling through a movie set. England has a significant beauty about it, sitting at the bar over a pint I enjoy a few giggles at the accents coming from the locals. it’s amazing! Continuing into Wales, Liverpool, The Lakes District and all the way up to Inverness and Edinburgh I witnessed the diverse countryside, seaside and hills. From roads so narrow that the car barely scrapes through, the gothic chapels of Glasgow, Highland cattle of Scotland and magnificent city views of Edinburgh. It was a special experience to travel so many places in only two weeks. I flew to Barcelona from Manchester and have two weeks here before tackling the south of Spain and Portugal!
Being back in Europe has opened my eyes to all we take for granted; things I had forgotten about, luxuries that I didn’t even understand were luxuries before. Flushing toilet paper, running water in the home, the smell of freshly laundered clothes, all these things I missed. However I don’t see all luxuries as good things, as I walked through the streets of Barcelona today I saw a group of eight people out at dinner, seven of them stared relentlessly into their Iphone screens while one sat on the end of the table tapping his napkin, bored. Nobody was socializing, smiling or laughing. People are living in a façade, a fake life on social media, hiding the reality. It scares me and I wanted nothing more than to knock all these people on the heads as I walked passed to give them something real to talk about rather than an online status. Its addictive, a real issue that a lot of people want help with, we try to give it up, but always fall back into the routine of continually swiping that finger across the screen. Is life that boring? How can it be, there is so much to learn from talking to other people, experiences to be had and laughter to be shared. This is why I had to promise myself to give it up because I was able to see the real issue. Some of my favorite travel stories come from conversations with people I have met, the best ones. So I will try my best to avoid posting an artificial version of myself online, to be real and live and laugh with friends.