It’s that time of year again! A helter-skelter scramble to the finish line before all the excitement and possibility of a new year rushes in.
I’m so glad I sat down and wrote 12 Things Travel Taught Me in 2012 as it let me enjoy the year all over again (while also learning something useful from the parts that really hurt.) Likewise at the end of 2013. So without further ado…
1) That the world is more connected than I ever dreamed was possible. In 2014, on a windy outcrop of rock in the Caribbean, I found a connection with Wales, my home. In Jordan, I ran into not one but two people I had met the last time I was there. And in the midst of the rainforests of Borneo, I ran into my brother in law’s best man. Small world? It appears so.
2) That the power of a blazing sunset can still impress me, time and time again. Top marks for dazzlingness go to Carpino in Italy and the shores of Sabah, Malaysia, for 2014.
4) That illness is real, real, real and that freelance workers need robust plans in place for when it happens. I thought I knew this already but 2014 really hammered it home.
5) That good things happen when you least expect them. Like this, I’d like to say.
6) That festivals can be fun! This became a theme for me in 2014 as through the #mustlovefestivals project I discovered that Europe overflows with unusual, beautiful festivals with no hint at all of mud! (See citations 7 through 13 and also on to a sneaky few more!)
7) That Nuremberg protects its sausage.
8) That Puglia has a delicacy that translates to mean “horseback on cheese.”
9) That bullets can rip through books with barely a mark on the outside, as seen in the Marsh’s Library, Dublin.
10) That our tastes really do change as we grow old (and our travel styles too…)
11) That I’m not the only one who picks blue as a favourite colour (Malta’s Gozo seems a fellow afficionado.)
12) That papier mache figures can reach the size of buildings in Barcelona…
13) …while candles litter the honeycomb stones in atmospheric Malta
14) That camels walk through the streets of Aqaba, Jordan…
15) And that sun bears prowl through the jungles in Borneo.
16) On the food front, I discovered a Singapore Sandwich
18) And the “noodle scale” in Japan (depicted by cartoon faces ranging from peachy perfect to purple fury with sweat droplets thrown in for good measure)
19) I smashed away my ideas of “Italy” with a walk through the crazed furnace of Naples
20) Turned my thoughts of the Caribbean on their head with the cactus-scorched parks of Aruba vs the boulders and irridescent green of nearby British Virgin Islands.
21) And while we’re on the subject of the Caribbean, I also learned the importance of doing nothing. Soon after that, I learned…
22) What husky dog farts smell like when they’ve been fed a diet of reindeer and
23) How to make poetry in visual form by sculpting a palace from ice
24) I met the oldest ice man in the world in Italy’s South Tyrol
25) And discovered that both fashion and backpacking existed even back then.
2014, travel taught me that
26) Poet Dylan Thomas’ first published piece of work was copied from someone else
27) And that William Shakespeare may not even have spelled his name that way
28) Madrid’s literary quarter revealed that Cervantes, who wrote the world’s first novel, struggled deeply with life while alive.
29) And I finally gazed on the grey monstrosity of Guernica (the iconic work from a certain Pablo Picasso) – and snuck a peek at the preliminary sketches behind the scenes.
30) In Nuremberg, I finally learnt the meaning of remembrance and reinvention and why we bother to learn about history at all.
31) And that music played in ruined buildings can be the most uplifting of all.
32) That air traffic control can paint starlines in the sky
33) And that there truly exists a Pathway of the Gods
34) That the greatest memorial to love is not, in fact, the Taj Mahal
35) That who you travel with matters more than where
36) That after six weeks at home, I long to be on the road. Soon after eight weeks away, I long to be at home.
37) That I could keep going with these numbered points until 2016 arrives! (And that I still haven’t changed from losing count over these last few years…Ah well, conventions, shma-ventions!
37) And most of all, I learned that in spite of the year’s sometimes crushing events, I still love to travel. I still love to learn and that by the year’s end I’m lucky enough to be back doing both.
Here’s to a wonderful 2015 everyone!