I’m always happy when I come away from a vacation having learnt something. Often, this takes the form of practical information – like yes, it is always a good idea to carry a good pocket knife and a roll of high-quality duct tape [except on a plane] – as well as the huge amount of things I learn from museums, monuments and other things I visit. One of the most valuable types of knowledge I’ve gained from travelling, however, is self-knowledge. Here is some:
Travelling alone is really fun sometimes and depressing other times. It’s a sweet relief to not have to consider other people’s petty needs and wants in choosing lodgement, food and sights to see. Gosh people annoy me with their desires and beliefs that are different to mine – what’s wrong with them? The feeling of being an explorateur is something I really relish as well. It’s a great experience to get to know this foreign land that is – for now – my home. Meeting people, discovering things and integrating these experiences into my identity is extremely rewarding.
I’ve also learnt that I’m allergic to Australia – this is the only explanation I can think of for the fact that I almost never have allergy problems here. Six weeks in France and I’ve sneezed fewer than twenty times – back home, I’m lucky if I sneeze that little in a day. Ironically, good anti-allergy medications are easy to get here, and strictly regulated back home.
As for more sobering lessons – travelling alone for two whole weeks is hard. This is never more evident than at night, when people everywhere gather in restaurants and bars to spend time with their friends. No friends in town? No fun times for you! I spent a lot of nights alone, wandering around, going to the movies, eating fast food. Lunchtimes are easier – I usually bought sandwiches and ate somewhere pretty. Either that or read the newspaper in a restaurant, which a great many French people do. They seem to like solitary lunches.
My first school holidays were spent entirely inside France – international travel being just a bit too pricey for we lucky people who haven’t yet gotten paid. I decided that I would explore the central region of France this time around, and so my trip took me west through the Loire Valley. My first stop was the beautiful jewel of Tours, followed by Saumur and eventually Nantes, on the west coast. My final destination was, of course, Paris.
Over the next week or so, posts for each of these places will magically reveal themselves. Until then, anyone who cares will have to be content with this summary: it were fun.
Do you wish to lay a vexatious lawsuit against someone? Perhaps your neighbour has shower curtains that you find unsavoury, because they depict the rise of the Third Reich in hilarious caricatures? Why not check here for some advice? Otherwise, my photo album from the October vacation can be found here, and contains almost no mention of the Third Reich at all (this time this is actually a lie).