Somewhere in the Sea

Copenhagen Travel Blog

 › entry 38 of 40 › view all entries
We are once again on a ferry in the middle of nowhere.  Instead of floating around in the hot seas of the Adriatic and Agean, we are up here chillyesque between Copenhagen and Oslo.  I know that there is a lot I should be catching you (and myself!) up on as I haven't added anything of notice since before Chantal joined us in Amsterdam, went to Brugge, Brussels, Ghent, and Pukkelpop (Smashing Pumpkins Part Deux!) and then Copenhagen this afternoon.  I will do that soon.  Maybe even later.  Right now I feel like reflecting a bit on the journey we've had so far as I realize it's all starting to come to an end.  Also, I just listened to an IPOD for the first time and there's something about Simon and Garfunkel and the song America (and don't judge me!) that makes me feel instrospective.  :)

When we planned this vacation, I thought of little else but that we wanted to do it for a while and we should do it before we get too old/mature/reponsibility-ridden or just chicken out.  I was sure that it would be a vacation of a lifetime and that it would not ruin my relationship with Everett.  :)  I think that's pretty much all I thought for it.  I overthink things...I decided to put my efforts and neuroses into planning the vacation...not predicting the effect it would have on me or Everett or us.  There are ten days and one unexplored country left on the agenda and then we are back to Regina...and resume some sort of old life that will be brand new.  And we'll be filled with whatever this experience has brought us.  But what have we learned?  I guess I cannot answer for Everett, but what have I learned for myself?

The first and most obvious thing I have learned is that Europeans are, almost universally, more multilingual that I imagined.  Young, old, East, West...almost all speak their native language, English, and often a third of a bordering country.  What an amazing thing to be able to understand a foreign culture (in most cases, that of America) in the foreign language.  And what an even more amazing experience Ev and I would have had it we could have experienced even one foreign culture in its own language...if we could have spoken to more natives and really understood how history has effected them.  I regret it.  We regret it.  And Everett and I are going to make a huge effort to learn another language (probably French) to soothe our guilty unilingualism.  

I guess another thing I have seen is that the people of the different countries from Athens to London to Budapest are all basically the same.  Budapestians and Parisans are terrible drivers...the Greeks and Hungarians are proud of their culinary skills...the Swiss are terribly proud of their beautiful landscape and progressive infrostructure (and, in effect, high taxes and prices)...the Dutch have an almost offensive, but ultimately just quite dry, sense of humor...but really these are all quirks.  There is still a general respect for other people in each country, a number of annoying assholes, and racism against the native population.  The same in found everywhere.  Some trains may be dirty and some toilets may not have seats and some people choose to make the majority of their seaside country sit below sea was really very similar to Canada...even to the US.  I thought the East would be more primitive and the West would be more snobby and the South would be more lazy.  I still think Asia would be much more different, but maybe if we went there, we'd find that many of these differences are perpitrated to make the world less likely to "get along."  

By saying that the East is strange and the West of Europe is snobby and hate speaking English, it is easier to not travel and not identify with them and not feel angry enough when the people of another continent - but of the same WORLD - are threatened and persecuted and subdued.  It's easier to not pay attention to the number of children in orphanages in Romania because they're part of Eastern Europe...things are always that way...they're used to it...they're an "other"...and it's all bullshit.  Croatia was so beautiful and they were devistated not too long ago and I never cared because they seemed to different and it seemed so far away...I am glad I traveled here and although I never got to know a place too well or for too long of a time or make any life long friendships, I will always feel a sort of connection with this continent.  It will never again feel too different or too far away.  I makes me want to be like Henry Rollins and travel to Syria and Jordan and Iran and see parts of the world that seem so different and foreign and see that the people there are really quite similar to what I am familar with...and it would help me be just as angry as he is that they are treated so badly and ignored so horribly just because it's easier to pretend that they live in another incompatable one.  And it's all wrong.

I guess it's hard not to feel more political when you see more of the world...because the world seems to much smaller when you can spend three short months and see most of the major cities of a very major continent.  Everything feels more connected...and I feel closer to it.  Maybe this feeling will ceade with time..but I hope not.  

I've also learned that Everett and I are very compatable and wonderful travelling buddies...perhaps the best!...but even we need time to ourselves to be...ourselves when we are not with each other.  At first this realization was a bit think that we would rather be apart that together at times...but I quickly realized that it is much more healthy.  We are not the same person.  We are so happy together because we are two different people - not in spite of it.  And it we really were to spend every waking moment together like we have been, we would stop being two separate people and meld into the same boring person.  :)  I hope what I take away from this is to not take him for granted when we are together because I know how well we are together...but also to enjoy my time alone to make myself a stronger person.

And I guess one of the biggest things that I've realized travelling (except that regular baths and regular beds and water that is safe to drink right out of the tap should NEVER be taken for granted) is that although I will remember this vacation for the rest of my life...I don't think I'll return feeling like I'm a new person.  I don't think that it'll be that drastic.  I heard that an aquaintance from back in high school went to Europe and same back spurting bullshit that it changed his life and his outlook and blah blah blah because he SAAAAAW poverty and SAAAAAW how the other people lived and BLAH BLAH BLAH while wearing his Hugo Boss and Nike and Tommy clothing and really only pretending that it made him a better person, while staying the same, and actually becoming more of a douchebag.  I think that when a country makes the news that I have been to, I might have a slight bit more of a perspective than someone who has never been...but in no way would I ever really know.  The longest we stayed anywhere was Santorini for 6 nights.  6 nights.  6 nights gives me perspective, not expertise.  I think that when I see a drastic piece of landscape, I will have more to compare it to...gorges will have to compare to Interlaken...sea villages will have to compare to Hallstatt.  Bad drivers will have to compare to those in Budapest (honestly!  terrifying!).  
So, all in all, the lasting impact will be slight, but it will color my outlook enough to make it worth all the money and time we have spent.  And, of course, I will not be filled with regret.  I won't look back and wish I had travelled when I was young and HAD the time to see part of the world that sadly too few see.  I did it.  We did it.  It wasn't even all fun or exciting and it didn't keep me from getting my regular bouts of mild depression...but I would change anything we did for the world.  Maybe I would change this day in this place to that day in that place to taken a bus when I took a ferry...but it's been so wonderful.  And I still can't wait to get home and keeo on truckin' Regina...with the Chemily!  :)  

Maybe none of this makes sense...maybe it's just something I'll want to look back and ponder when I am old and be proud of myself for doing it.  

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photo by: the_bill