Tuesday, 11 September 2012

EUROPE : My Fountain Of Youth

The following post is my entry to NOMADIC MATT'S 
'Win a 12 Day Trip To Europe' contest.

Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Panorama - Flickr

Now, in my late 30's, I am facing the fact that unlike most people of my age I am not married, have no children, not tied down, and I feel like I am starting my life again. I am young, I feel young and I cannot describe how much I need to travel again. It oozes its way out of my veins, it bugs me to the core and my feet are needing to move as they are itching to go - right now!

BUT...my feet have felt like they have been in lead boots for over 10 years. I have torn them out of those lead boots and allowed myself my travel dreams again. And here is my plea.

I want to travel to Europe, I want to get lost in a strange city again, I want to go somewhere where I do not know the language; where I can feel the lingering scent in the air of the new, the unknown, the alien land.

When I went travelling in 1999 I was a different person. I lived for belonging, I lived for fitting in. I frequented all the usual backpacker haunts and did all the usual backpacker things. Now in my 30s I would hope I am a little wiser but I also feel more fearless than I ever did in my 20s.

The Old Town - Budva - Prague
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Alex Dram

Europe to me is on my doorstep, being from the UK. Yet my own experience of Europe has been family holidays in make-shift British holiday resorts and University field trips. I have not seen the real Europe; I have not sat in a pavement cafe drinking coffee watching the world go by. I am yet to wander streets with foreign names on my own. My previous travels were in English-speaking countries - I want to be challenged, really challenged, in a really good way.

Tea Time At Fisherman's Bastion,
Near Buda Castle - Budapest

Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Gilderic - Flickr

What is it that makes me want to take this trip?

Many reasons - fairytale castles, gothic architecture, fine cuisine, vivid landscapes, but most of all Europe will awaken in me a new me, someone that faces her fears, that shows the world I am nearing 40 and I can still dance, sing and play my way around the world. We don't need to settle down with kids and a husband to belong; we don't need to have a mortgage, car and career to be a worthwhile member of society.

I relish the opportunity to shout from the rooftops how fantastic a trip through Europe would be for a solo woman nearing 40. And that drinking beer alone or talking to strangers, dancing the night away, wandering beautiful churches and abbeys and taking photos of myself prancing around the hills of Austria is not only okay but is necessary for some of us on this planet today.

I want this trip to Europe to fill me up, to fill up my heart, let me drink from the fountain of youth again.

I want to blend in, saturate in everything European and maybe, just maybe, come back home to myself as I take this journey.

Early Morning In Vienna
Shared Via Creative Commons Taken By Julian Turner

My top 15 intentions for my 12 day trip through Budapest, Prague and Vienna:

  1. Sit in many pavement cafes drinking a cappuccino or local coffee watching the world go by.
  2. Walk down ancient streets letting myself get lost so that I can find new places to explore in these beautiful cities.
  3. Take trips out of the city into the nearby countryside, walk, hike, marvel at the wondrous nature in these stunning countries.
  4. Drink beer - dance at least once in a local bar or festival.
  5. Look up in wonder at the architecture of luxuriously decorated Churches and Cathedrals; make peace with my soul; listen to the sounds of silence.
  6. Fulfil my new hunger for photography, photographing everything and anything that lights me up inside.
  7. Take a healing bath in Budapest and follow this with a relaxing massage.
  8. Take a cruise down the Danube.
  9. Taste many different cuisines and enjoy the sensuous pleasures of Europe; make sure I get to experience the rich Sacher cake with coffee while in Vienna.
  10. Visit the Baroque palace in Vienna 
  11. Attend a classical concert in Vienna.
  12. Visit a Jazz club while in Prague.
  13. Walk around Strahov monastery exploring the beautiful cloisters.
  14. Drink beer in Prague and laugh lots.
  15. Overcome my fear of puppets and see an authentic children's puppet show while in Prague.

These are my intentions, but as any good traveller knows, I am very open to strolling off the beaten track and following my nose and seeing where I end up.

And so ends my plea for this trip. I hope my wish is granted.


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