23 Oct,2017 By jagabond
Feel the nerves, feel the wonder, feel the excitement…
That’s how I feel in a new city…as I emerge from the train station, or ride in the taxi through downtown…stepping out for the first time in a main square and just looking around and taking a deep breath. Seeing all the permanent residents whose city I am invading for a brief time…going about their daily lives and unaffected by my presence, thus allowing me to just wander like a phantom, picking and choosing when I feel human interaction is necessary. The nerves, the wonder, the excitement…
Two of those feelings, nerves and excitement, have often occurred within me simultaneously, as what I call ‘enthusiasm with apprehension’. The best example would be a roller-coaster, riding up that first hill ever so slowly at a creeping pace. My excitement was tempered by the fear that we’d get stuck at the top, and we’d be there for an hour before park personnel could safely evacuate us. This buildup of fear eventually led to a greater payoff of enjoyment.
The difference with travel is the additional aspect of wonder….both my marveling at the situation I now find myself in, coupled with the curiosity of how this loosely-planned adventure is going to unfold. The co-occurrence of nerves, wonder and excitement thus creates a hybrid emotion in me, one that I’ve really only felt while traveling. Call it an addiction, call it an obsession, but whatever it is my experiences in Europe have unlocked something and made me hungry for more…wanting to feel that hybrid emotion again.
I remember stepping out of the car for the first time in Prizren, Kosovo, and seeing this…
So that’s why I love travel, though I recall it not always being that way. I wasn’t in a plane until I was 22, and then when I did start traveling, mostly for business, I would never take pictures, never take notes…nothing. I look back at those experiences now and wonder if they were even real, as if I was just drifting through them with no appreciation. I’m the type who when forced, can focus on one thing, obsess about that one thing, and potentially become great at that one thing. After being blessed with a career change that led to a move to Belgium, and helped by lots of holiday and little work, I finally had the will and opportunity to make travel my ‘one thing’…and I was determined to become great at it.
Belgium was Elysium for me. I immediately assessed the travel options – budget airport 30 minutes from my house, international airport an hour train ride, French border only a 20 minute drive, Paris 2 and a half hours, London with the Eurostar, Amsterdam with the Thalys…enough! Belgium was perfect. If I could stay away from too many indulgences in the local Belgian beer, I could craft a strategy to traverse Europe and plant my flag in the ground of the continent. I’m proud to say, I think I did just that.
My house and ‘base of operations’ for 30 months…
I eventually moved back from Belgium, but not before traveling more than I ever felt possible and becoming a Europhile. I will make it back periodically, and hopefully permanently someday. Until then, www.jagabond.com exists to satisfy my addiction. Here’s a generic breakdown of what this site will offer:
1. Travel advice, in the form of articles highlighting or comparing cities, and also discussions on smart and safe travel habits. In addition, articles highlighting ‘triangle trips’, where you can maximize your European exposure by easily hitting two other cities from one.
2. ‘Almost Europe’ – this section will highlight European festivals outside of Europe, as well as any trips to European-influenced cities…continuing my quest to find and write about all things Europe.
3. Best/worst lists, though I’ll focus mostly on the positives with ‘best’. These articles will rank cities, sights, etc. in a way that’s hopefully useful to the traveler.
4. My previous travel blog has been transferred to this site, and can be found in the ‘destinations’ section. With over 40 European countries and 130 cities covered, it’s a log of my initial thoughts after visiting a place. In contrast to an article that involves research, this section is a journal that logs the traveler’s preliminary impression of a city. This section is not just my old blog, as any new European trips by myself or guest bloggers can be submitted here.
5. There will be sections entitled ‘Shutter Love Sunday’ and ‘Moving Pictures’, which will highlight a weekly photo and monthly video, respectively.
6. I will also have a ‘this month in European history’ section. With its long and active past, there should be plenty of things to choose from.
Travel changed my life, but I’m far from the only victim of travel’s beautiful temptation. I’m reminded of an amazing quote from Hans Christian Andersen, literary hero of Denmark.
“To move, to breathe, to fly, to float,
To gain all while you give,
To roam the roads of lands remote,
To travel is to live.”
I don’t want to get dramatic…but maybe I will anyway. Everyone wants to travel. If you talk to the retired locals at the grocery downtown…they want to travel. If you talk to the flunkies in the dive bar down the street…they want to travel. I got lucky, and I got to do it…and I saw why everyone wants to, so I can’t stop talking about it. If I get annoying, I’m sorry, but I want to spread the word about how travel is great for the soul.
Why am I focusing just on Europe? Because of the Greeks and Romans, and their legacy and that of those who conquered them. Because of the art, architecture, and aromatic wines. Because of the historical influence on the birth of government and international politics. Because of the impact on sciences and mathematics, and those who died for their discoveries…and because of the memory of those who gave their lives in the World Wars protecting a free Europe, who gave me the right to write this blog.
Enjoy, and feel free to contact me with any questions, requests for guest blogs, or anything else.