I thought, initially, that 2013 wasn’t a very eventful year. I watched as other friends travelled the world, got married, had children, got promoted, got published. But upon reflection I realised that this year was really a transition, or, if we should use that German word, a slide into the life I’m creating for myself.
Wherever and however you are celebrating today (or even if you don’t celebrate it at all), I wish you the happiest of days. Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!
Four days ago, in Zurich, Switzerland, I found my way to my hostel without consulting my map; I had stayed there once before, in the summer of 2006, and I let my feet and my intuition guide me there from the main train station. The trip started off well, and I spent the afternoon with mulled wine and lulled steps, slowly and deliberately making my way through the cobblestoned streets and their Christmas markets. Around 8pm, I went back to the hostel. That was my goal – every night, through Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Austria, I’d spend at least a few hours writing.
I opened my MacBook Pro, my fingers still slightly numb from the cold. I turned on the computer, its familiar grey screen popping up before me. The little circle spun, spun, spun. Spun. And spun. Nothing.
These past few days, I’ve thought a lot about trip-planning. I’ve flip-flopped between being totally nonchalant about it (“I’ve got loads of time! It always works out, no matter what!”) to totally stressed about it (“I’m flying to Zurich in two weeks and I have planned NOTHING! I need flights, hostels, hotels, trains, buses, AND I need to book a nice place for a Christmas dinner…”). This is actually quite unlike a lot of trips I’ve done, because it actually does require the booking of flights, hostels, hotels, trains, and buses – over the holiday season, there’s no way I’m leaving these things to chance. This isn’t like my recent trip to Berlin, where I booked the one hostel and the round trip flight from London a few days before, nor is it like my longer stints through Southeast Asia or South America, where I had nothing but a one-way ticket and an open mind. With a limited amount of time and with a fairly limited amount of money, I need to plan this. I need to plan this now.
So how am I doing it? How should you plan a trip that does, in fact, need to be planned?
Vienna, Austria A night at the opera. I remember standing in line with a mish-mash of other backpackers, hoping that there were still €2 standing-room tickets left. I remember thinking, “Will they let me in wearing flip-flops?” I remember hobnobbing with the other ticket-holders, drinking champagne and eating chocolate-covered strawberries, the songs of Mozart still […]