Sometimes I feel very lucky. Lucky to have been born in a certain part of the world, yes. Lucky to have friends and family who care for me, certainly. Lucky I get to travel, of course, but today I’m feeling lucky that the year is 2013. To fit with the magical writing mystery of the moment, I only need to come up with thirteen lessons travel taught me this year. Just think if blogging had got going back in the 1980s…shudder! We’d be here all night. AND we’d have Facebook albums full of shoulderpads, legwarmers and neon-bowed frizzy perms. It’s too hideous to contemplate.
But thirteen? Thirteen isn’t that many. It’s considered unlucky to some (those in the “West” mainly, those in the “East” tend to shiver at the mention of 14. This leads to problems in multicultural international hotels where several floors of the building disappear from architectural plans.)
But anyway, 2013, the year of bad-luck-in-certain-parts-of-the-world-if-you-believe-it-and-if-you-think-we’re-even-counting-right (when was Jesus born? 4 BC? And shouldn’t this system be made more multi-faith by now?) is almost at an end.
And last year (2012, the year of twelve months, apostles, dwarves and that Christmas song that ends with a pheasant somewhere in a fruit tree) I wrote the catchy post Twelve Things Travel Taught Me in 2012. (Sneaky, eh?!)
Except, I cheated. I ended up writing 34. Why? Because it’s my blog and I was drunk with power (or E numbers. One of the two.*)
But the thing is. I’m no longer a starry-eyed newcomer…Not to the world, not to travel, not to blogging. Not even to E numbers (although even I have never seen twelve lords a leaping. Nor a partridge in a pear tree.)
Are there still thirteen lessons to be learnt from travel? I mean, wouldn’t my time be better spent learning about the intricacies of compound interest, fracking and the rules of cricket instead of dabbling around with what other places in the world can teach me?
Well, let’s see.
I’m setting the stop clock, sitting down to write and seeing what comes up. And if nothing but French Hens wander into view I shall be sorely disappointed…
1) The meaning of home. Finally.
2) The meaning of time in Egypt
3) That Nuremberg has a terrible name but a beautiful legacy. It reinvented itself from being the breeding ground for one of the worst episodes in human history (the Nazi rally grounds) into a centre that champions human rights and the investigation of war crimes. It’s also incredibly, incredibly beautiful.
4) George Washington was a travel writer – for a while. (He was also the first President of the United States. So, dear readers, I’m simply biding my time…
5) That the London Bridge urban legend really was true…
6) That coincidence can be beyond spooky…(you have to read to the end to understand what I mean…)
7) That slavery wasn’t always black and white (same link, different point.)
8) That returning to a place can be even more beautiful than the first time you went.
9) And that sometimes, going back feels wrong.
10) That I can dabble in poetry without the world coming to an end
11) That reconciliation is possible after 27 years in jail
13) Why if you get given lemons, there’s something better in store for you than just lemonade
14) That the sun can shine in Wales
15) The importance of a woman’s hair
17) And that kids still love to have their picture taken
18) That colour still matters in Cape Town
19) And you can do as many as 7 things with a volcano
20) And that there are 17 ways to take better photos from a moving train
21) That a luxury hotel can also be a bomb shelter
22) And that you can visit a genuine Bond villain’s lair
23) That it’s called both Burma AND Myanmar
24) And that Vietnam has its own version of the Legend of the Lake
25) That words can fail when speaking to a Nagasaki survivor
26) That so many of you like maps
27) And Paris when it comes to that
28) That you can find a real ice palace underground
29) That I always run out of time…
30) And that there’s so much more to learn out there
That’s it for now – wishing you all the best for 2014 in terms of health, happiness and, well, if you’ve got those two who needs anything else?
* E numbers are food additives approved by the food safety branch of the EU. Just to avoid confusion ;-)
Abigail King is a writer and photographer who swapped a career as a doctor for a life on the road. Now published by Lonely Planet, the BBC, CNN, National Geographic Traveler & more, she feels most at home experimenting here: covering unusual journeys, thoughtful travel and luxury on www.insidethetravellab.com