I miss travel. For a while I’d almost stopped thinking about travelling. But lately, Hubby and I both have a very bad case of travel itch.
Chalk the yearning up to cancelled plans. Hubby still won’t look at pictures of Africa. He says it’s too painful. First world problems, I know. So yeah, there was the big Africa trip that wasn’t, plus cancelled canoe trips, and trips down east, and out west. Followed by almost a year of desultory talk of other possible trips, and plans that never made it past the sighing-wouldn’t-it-be-nice-phase. In fact, after a few months even the sighing stopped. We simply hunkered down and decided to just enjoy being at home and stop talking about going anywhere.
But lately the yearning has started up again. I know that’s because the end of lockdown is in sight. Hopefully. And with impending second shots of vaccine possibly maybe being available in a few weeks, and maybe with luck being able to see friends outside for coffee or drinks in the near future, and one day, vaccinations permitting, by the end of summer, maybe even the possibility of getting down east to visit family. That’s a lot of maybes, isn’t it? But with all that possibility in the air, we’ve even begun to hope that we might conceivably begin to think about planning a trip. One day.
Which only makes sitting still and waiting for the lock down to actually end, and all those other possibles to really happen, even more painful. In the meantime I am scratching the travel itch by writing about travel. And reminiscing a bit. Hope you don’t mind.
I should qualify all my moaning by saying that we have travelled short distances a few times since the beginning of 2020. We were able to go on both our June and September camping trips to Bonnechere Provincial Park on Round Lake, near Killaloe. And late last fall between lockdowns and before the snow came, we were lucky enough to rent a cottage up the valley near Barry’s Bay for a few days, and squeeze in some hiking. Not to mention all the miles we have logged at home, on skis, on our bikes, and on foot in the past fourteen months.
And in case you don’t know, I do know how lucky I am. I’m grateful, and sometimes even guilt-ridden, for being able to ride out the pandemic so comfortably in our little house on the river. I’m grateful for the ski trails so close by, and the ability to walk or cycle woodland paths, to watch the otters on the ice in the winter even if we did stress over whether the visiting eagle would catch them, or see the sunrise over the water and hear the morning birdsong. We are both really thankful for all the normalcy that we were allowed during such an abnormal time.
But still. Despite all that. We are itching to go somewhere further afield than Barry’s Bay. Not that we don’t love Barry’s Bay.
So not Barry’s Bay, or Killaloe, or even Carleton Place where I went for lunch last summer. All lovely towns. But too close and too well known to us. We long to go some place new where we might do something we’ve never done before. Like ride a camel at sunset.
Or sit with a monkey on our head. Not that I did sit with a monkey on my head. But I did just about fall out of the boat laughing at Hubby when I took this picture. And then I put my purse on my head so the monkey’s friend wouldn’t begin to fancy my rather more bushy head of hair. Ha.
We long to go some place completely different. I mean completely different from Canada. Where we can hop in a car and drive hundreds of miles of straight road across a virtual desert. Sometimes driving for an hour or two without seeing so much as a tree, or a bend in the asphalt. Lulled into inattention until Hubby swerves to avoid an emu in the middle of the road. A place where we can stop on a beach within sight of the Indian Ocean to add a stone to an aboriginal cairn. Out of respect for their ancestors and to remember my own. Looking back this picture seems ironic and sad. A few days later in April 2008, we received word that my stepfather had died. Whereupon we turned around and headed for home. Many, many miles and several days travel away.
Hubby and I have the travel itch to see places that teach us about the world. Places that we have only read about or heard about on the news. Countries with cultures and histories very different from ours. And people who are different from us in some ways, and yet in other ways, so often, just the same. Like Bosnia-Herzegovina. And in particular Mostar, which Hubby and I will never forget.
Over the years we have had the privilege to visit many places which have taught us about other cultures. Like Peru, where the people we met were enormously hard-working. They didn’t have many of the luxuries that we take for granted. But they were, without fail, obliging and friendly and welcoming. And that, my friends, taught us about ourselves. It taught us, as one fellow traveller said, to be grateful that we had “won the birth lottery.” And to maybe question what it is about our own lives that we value. Peru was a place that really got under our skin, and it changed us. If you want to read more about our trip to Peru, you can do so here and here.
Hubby and I love to plan and organize our own trips. With the exception of Peru, we have, over the years, done all our own bookings. We love to rent a car and see the countryside on our own, with the freedom of stopping when we want, where we want, for as long as we want. We realize that will not always be the case. The time will come when we will be too old to hive off on our own.
We know that eventually we won’t be doing things like the two-day back-road loop we drove in Northern Argentina in 2017. From Salta to Cafayate, Angastaco, then Cachi, and back to Salta. What an experience. The roads were amazing, but not for the faint-hearted. Not dangerous per se, just remote, mostly unpaved, narrow at times, twisting sometimes, and bumpy. Ha. You can read about that trip here if you’re interested.
And in a few years we probably won’t be driving roads like this one up into the cloud forest in Costa Rica. Talk about unpaved, bumpy roads. And breathtaking scenery.
But we hope we still have quite a few years of travel left in us. Years we hope to still be able to book into quirky little B&B accommodation. Like this one on a farm outside of Urbino in Italy. Where we had the most amazing truffle risotto for dinner, made with truffles the chef had sourced in the surrounding hills. And where we watched the sun rise over those same hills from our room the next morning.
Not every place we’ve visited has been culturally awakening, or provided breathtaking vistas. Some have just been good fun. Like this pub in Cootamundra, New South Wales in 2008. Apparently that ginormous hamburger was really good. And Hubby didn’t have to eat again for two days. Ha. In some places you get gourmet food. And in others the meal is just tasty and messy and in very generous proportions.
Like at this place in Georgia where our friends took us in 2014. A mostly outdoor restaurant with tables under a covered perimeter, surrounding a central courtyard that held a huge open firepit, and a live band. Ramshackle and quirky and utterly delightful. As I said in a previous post, Captain Stan’s Smokehouse warmed the heart of this downeast girl. And the look on Hubby’s face when he asked if he could have a glass for his beer and the waitress said “no” was priceless. Strictly by the bottle or in a plastic cup at Captain Stan’s. Where the beer was cold and the food was delicious, I might add.
Of course if you’ve been reading this blog since before 2020, you’ll know that half the fun of planning a trip for me is planning what I will pack. That will never change even if the kind of travel we do does change. I love to make lists, cross-referencing our planned activities with the seasonal weather and temperatures. City walking, hiking up mountains, dining out, riding bikes, long days in a car or a plane or train, lounging in rented self-catered apartments or cottages, or breakfasting in a B&B. Footwear and clothes must do double or triple duty in a variety of outfit combinations, be able to be washed, be comfortable, look chic, and make me feel like me. That’s a tall order. But I love it when a travel wardrobe comes together.
I don’t know what the future holds for us with respect to travel. We’re not yet comfortable planning an overseas trip. We may decide to plan shorter, closer to home trips, road trips, camping trips, two-week trips with no flying, for a while. We haven’t really discussed any details at all. Beyond Hubby’s fishing trip that has been cancelled, and our upcoming camping trip that may yet be cancelled, and our hoped for trip to Mum’s in August. Beyond that too many things are uncertain. Time enough to plan once things open up and we know more of what we can expect.
But I do desperately want to scratch my travel itch. More than Hubby does, I think. I long to see new places. And meet new people. Or to revisit places we’ve already been, and loved. I think that’s because my normal life has been curtailed by the pandemic more than Hubby’s has.
We have toyed with the idea of returning to Australia to finish the trip we abandoned in 2008. And every time we watch “Escape to the Country” I reiterate that I’d love to go back to the UK. And we absolutely loved the Balkans in 2019. There are always places we could revisit, always new routes we left unexplored because we had to decide on one route over another. No matter how wonderful a trip is, once we return home, we realize how we might have done the trip differently, and what we are sorry to have missed. The road not travelled conundrum, so to speak.
And we all know that a road once glimpsed, but untravelled, leads to a bad case of travel itch. And an unscratched travel itch, well, that can be serious, folks.
How about you, my friends? Do you suffer from unscratched travel itch? And if so, how are YOU coping?