Is it just me, or is anyone else missing, actually craving the joy of travel? And trust me, I feel a bit odd saying that out loud, as I am in the lucky few. I have travelled in the last month - leaving Morocco to come back to Austria - both places which I consider home, but neither of which is actually, strictly, home. Home being the ever stunning, Australia (but that being tooooo far away, not to mention too hazardous with quarantine etc).
But lately I am heart-breakingly, soul-achingly, actually slightly bereft at missing the experience associated with travel. I miss waking up to new sights, sounds and smells. I miss not knowing what the day will bring, what surprise will greet me around the corner - good or bad in some cases! I miss wonderful, crazy architecture and the fantastic taste sensation of a never-before experienced dish, I miss having time upon time to wander down laneways, to see new fashions, to stumble across markets, to get to know new people. I miss everything about it. I even miss plane travel – go figure! But not airports - so I am not completely crazy – well, not yet.
Pre-Covid19, my job entailed flying around the world delivering Trend presentations in amazing cities, in gorgeous buildings at fabulous launches. I would wander around eating in tucked-away local restaurants, looking at the scene, noting the trends – the fashions, the interiors, the early adopters, the colours, the food, the people. From Japan, India, Thailand, Singapore, USA, Switzerland, Germany, through to Spain, France, and the UAE… the list goes on as I travelled and experienced an amazing array of cultures and countries. And, to my now dismay, at the end of nine years of this jet-setting business lifestyle I was telling all and sundry how I was tired of travel. I wanted to stay put. I wanted to stay home. It was too much, too often and my social life was suffering, not to mention my body, which was not getting any younger, and trust me flying all the time, eating out in restaurants, cafes or in hotels does not make the best partner for keeping fabulous and fit. That, my friend takes extreme dedication when your job involves constant travel. I remember walking in my front door from one trip that consisted of Germany, Spain, France, onto India and then Israel (or something along those lines, and it never followed a straight path - nope, I criss-crossed my way around the world) and finally arriving home to receive a phone call relaying that I was needed in UK the next day for a presentation. I literally fell to my knees beside my suitcase - the suitcase that I had been carrying for nearly five weeks - with only a pit stop or two in between to change clothes for the different climes. And I cried. Like. A. Baby.
I was tired, exhausted and had had enough.
And now? Now I wished I could re-live every single second of every single trip. I have them in my memory of course - and on my phone - but I want to hold them in my heart again. I want to feel the electricity and buzz of Tokyo, the fabulous little Ramen noodle shops all in wood, with their cloth flags out the front - sitting there, watching the world walk buy in a place where technology and tradition merge in the one bustling, crazy electrified city. I want to swim in clean oceans on the white sandy beaches of Tel Aviv, and then walk salty and sun-kissed a few streets back to the most amazing food in the world (if you ask me that is). I want to sit in the Marina in Athens and watch the sun go down with a cocktail (or two) in hand, while a warm sea breeze blows through the exquisitely decorated restaurant perched above the yachts. I want to dance in “The Lobby” - the back bar of the amazing Emirates’ Airbus 380 in Business Class. I want to visit art galleries and spend a night at the theatre in London, and I want to walk alongside the Seine in the shadow of the imposing and ever-so graceful Notre Dame. I want to bike along the canals in Amsterdam, I want to walk on tiny mountain trails, ever upwards to crystal clear lakes….
Wait! That last one I can do. And I guess that is the point of this whole musing. Now more than ever, with all the changes that are afoot, with life so tenuous as to what is going to happen next, with lockdown occurring, and then being relaxed on what seems the fickle whim of politicians in countries the world over, there is one thing I have learnt - it is time to live in the moment.
No-one seriously knows what will come next, when life will return to some semblance of normality, and when we will be able to travel again with absolute freedom.
For me, I desire to err on the side of optimism. Life will return, of course it will be forever changed, but we, as humans, adapt: that is one of our greatest strengths. We have done it before and we will do it again. And travel will re-emerge yes, granted changed - it changed after 911 after all, and we changed with it - but we will continue to desire to experience the new and unknown, to explore places unseen, to gather and collect, to gain greater understanding of this amazing, awe-inspiring, breathtaking world that is ours. Covid19 will not - I dare say cannot – kill our spirit, it will not eradicate the hunger for difference, nor the desire to explore far flung places. Yes, Covid19 may have stopped us in our tracks, but it will never stop us travelling.
Even if it is simply in our hearts for the time being.