Update @ 5pm
Ironic that I should write this post today because I experienced the worst set back while on the road yet; I had a bad bike accident, collided into a van, and ended up in hospital…but nothing was broken thankfully. I’m a bit shook up but okay otherwise. I decided to fork out for my own room so I can recuperate in silence and get some sleep tonight!
If you’ve been regularly reading my blog, you’ll know that I tend to focus on the upside of travel and that I try to write about the virtues of the places that I go to. Sometimes I mention less than positive experiences, but for the most part, it’s all been pretty good and I’ve largely liked the places that I’ve been fortunate enough to go to, especially those where friends have been involved. But after a long and sleepless night in Berlin I guess I feel like I should put in a disclaimer at this point and qualify my experiences a little. (So if this sounds a bit grumpy, you’ll know why…)
Aside from the obvious downside of being away from home and family and friends, there are a lot of aspects to travel which are also less than desirable. First of all, being a tourist can be no fun which I alluded to with my entries on Barcelona and Brugges; it’s especially horrible being ripped-off.
Illness and injuries are all things that I’ve gone through on the road. The last in particular is a niggling concern – I’ve had achilles tendonitis since I arrived in England and it doesn’t look like it will go away soon. I’ve been fatigued a few times too, mostly from too much travel and not enough sleep.
I’m not such a big fan of commuting to and from airports and catching planes. And I’ve generally loved catching trains but a couple of days ago had a really bad train journey from Brussels to London; the guy sitting behind me had a serious case of verbal diahorrea and the poor man sitting next to him – as well as a couple of others in proximity including me – had to listen to his inane babbling. And the family in the seats in front of me were in a world of their own with their two daughters. What especially drove everyone up the wall – I could see it in people’s eyes – was the fact that they had a portable DVD player which had Hercules blaring from it. (Of course, I could have asked them to turn it down but I’m a bit passive like that…)
Sometimes the places I’ve ended up in have proven to be disappointing. Though in all honesty that hasn’t happened too often because I try not to have too many expectations, so usually I’m pleasantly surprised rather than the other way around. I have occasionally been mystified why some places or attractions draw crowds of people though. The other day I walked past fifty people crowded ‘Mannekin-pis’ in Brussels, which is literally a pissy little statue – it’s the size of a small doll. And it’s a statue of a small boy weeing. Go figure.
Loneliness can be a problem but I’ve rarely travelled by myself for long periods of time to suffer from it too badly. After this past week on the road more or less by myself though, I’ve come to the conclusion that travelling by yourself is not that much fun in a place like Europe where it’s generally not that exciting and stimulating for you to fully immerse yourself in it the way you can in a developing country. And even then, it’s more fun with travelling companions. The interactions that I’ve had to have, for example with people I’ve shared a room with, are generally a bit awkward. Possibly because I’m not really extraverted in these kinds of situations and also, I’m not really into hanging out at the hostel bar and getting drunk.
Being prone to insomnia also makes travel pretty hard work at times. Last night I didn’t sleep at all and it’s not the first time that’s happened. Probably a combination of coffee, anxiety, noise (trains, cars, garbage trucks, dogs barking, snoring) and early light as well as other factors. And early this morning I experienced a new one – the sound of two people making out on the other side of the room. Not something I like to be subjected to if I can help it. After a while I got out of the bed and came downstairs to use this computer. I’ve been a bit of afraid of coming back into the room in case I catch them doing something I definitely don’t want to see.
Okay, now that I’ve gotten all that out of my system I can get on with my travels…and back to Berlin which is so far pretty great. I’ve yet to see the main sights though – I’ll be doing that today on a bike tour around town. I’ll post up photos after I get back!