Saturday, 4 January 2014

2013: a year of travel achievements

2013 is over since a few days.
It's been one difficult but important year, made of lessons and achievements, of some gloomy moments but also of creativity and some great fun.
And anyway it's made me decide to open this blog :)
So - because of this reason, and because most of the positive parts it's given me have been achieved during/because of trips, I've thought it would have been decide to commemorate such achievement with a post :)

In this year I've managed to...

[*] Visit some new place
I've visited cities and places I've never seen before, like Copenaghen, the States, Malmö...
The world has so many amazing places to be discovered and my aim is always add every year a new piece to the puzzle of the world I store in my mind. You never know what a new place might bring you: maybe you will love it, maybe it will disappoint you, but all in all the experience will teach you something.

But my aim is also to discover some new places or aspects in cities I know already. Places like London or Venice are able to surprise you every single time, for as many visits you might pay to them. Great cities with great personalities have many faces and getting to know them also means getting to find different aspects within yourself: after all, one of my favourite quotes about travelling says "You can reinvent yourself for as many places in the world you can visit".
Just open your eyes, get lost and leave your heart open to inspiration.

[*] Come back to a place that feels home to me...
London is this place. People often asks me why I do love UK this much - but I guess love is always difficult to be explained through words. And probably one of the best definitions of it is that it is able to make you feel at home.
London just fits me. It's not a list of elements what I love about it, it's not a sum of charachteristics - it's simply the whole thing, the atmosphere, the way I feel when I'm there. I just think about the details, the red phoneboots, the smell of fries in the streets, the escalators where you have to keep the left, the black cabs, people saying "Sorry" if they accidentally bump into you ... - there is something laying underneath all these details that I cannot grab through words, but that somehow belongs to me.
I try to go there every year - it's a kind of need that feels similar the one people who went to live far away from their hometown do have.

[*] Let myself be positively surprised by a place that I had negative bias about...
I have to confess it, I had plenty of negative bias about New York City.
I am kind of old fashioned, romantic soul, I mostly dig for pebble alleys, blear streetlamps, old buildings with a '800 appeal... I'm not for cement, modernism, pulsanting lively crowds or rampant stilettos "Sex & the City" style.
But alas, I thought NYC was a place that one should visit for once in a lifetime - and so I went.
And fell in love with it.
It's been just like falling in love with someone who is so different from you: "Opposites do attract each others" they say, and the attraction ends up making the opposites touch, and find some common points.
Its elegance. Its variety. Its huge variety of things to try. Its marked personality with so many different faces. Its romantic, poetic side.
I love surprises - good ones. And NYC has been the biggest surprise in my traveller's life.
Also because I still have so much to see and discover about it.
And I just can't wait.

[*] Travel with my fave travel mates...
Besides being one of my best friends, Ginger Cat is also one of the most close-knit travel mates I've ever had.
We are so similar in tastes, interests, pace, curiosity and ways to conceive the travel - which is a gift. She is very propositive, dynamic and is probably even more Brit-aholic than me! ... which makes travelling with her always a really enriching experience.

Tabby Cat is also a very precious mate to share a travel experience with.
She is a bubbly and adorable nature force who is able to convey you enthusiasm about everything - and we share passions (...obsessions?) for photography, wine, good food and crafts.

[*] Travel with my family...
My mum is another of my fave travel mates.
She never gets tired of walking and shares my creepy soft spot for cemeteries and other spooky places.
We have done quite some trips around Europe when I was younger - and now it happens more rarely, but I still try to do one trip every year with her.
She loves travelling - while my dad doesn't that much, even if he enjoys listening to my stories and watching my pictures.

[*] Travel with a LARGE group of friends...
In Amsterdam, at the end of August, we were about 20, coming from 7 different countries.
We all know each other from a common hobby and, since 2012, we are trying to organize a meeting every year.
It's a whole different way to enjoy a city visit and that kinda makes me step back in time, feeling like being on an high school trip - but better, as anyway during high school I was quite too introverted to really have fun and I wasn't getting along *this* well with all my school mates as much as I do with this bunch of girls.
We seized the "I AMsterdam" sign in Museumplein and occupied all the letters just by ourselves :D

[*] Be guided by a local friend...
Visiting a place together with someone who is local is one of the most enriching experiences you can have by travelling, because it helps you to get deeper with the things that surround you and it's a way to see the place from another point of view, the one of someone who lives there.
The forementioned Amsterdam was guided by my Dutch friend Antonette from We12travel, who is a great guide.
And we did most part of the USA trip together with an American friend, who is actually from California - but still she's provided quite some interesting hints about US way of life.

[*] Discover my own city as if I were a tourist...
This something my mum has always taught me to do since my teenage.
We have spent quite some days, back in the times, visiting museums and hanging around Turin with an eye to its architecture, history and beauty.
And I've done this again quite many times this year.
It's an exercise I really enjoy and that always provides me many discoveries and satisfactions.
It's not only about stepping from one landmark to another and snapping pictures - it's mostly about seeing things in a different way from the usual, distracted look you might give in the everyday, while running to work or doing errands.
It's about opening your eyes, looking around and pretending it is the first time you see everything. And then beauty immediately grabs you - and in that moment you realize it is actually not the first time you see all those things, but that they are yours, they belong you, to your past and to your present.
Which, to me, is a way to feel blessed - at least a little bit.

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