Posted by: Laura | May 20, 2010

Travel Thoughts: Fluid Traveling

Before my first solo overseas trip (to Ireland), I armed myself with as much knowledge about the destination as I could. I pulled this information from various sources: guidebooks, the internet, friends, and even strangers. I wanted to maximize my time and money while making sure I saw as much as I could and staying at safe, clean hostels.

Blogging at Frenchman's Beach

You really should have seen my Ireland guidebooks. They were flagged and highlighted (and color-coded of course) to ensure quick access to whatever it may be I would be searching for at the time. Blue was for travel and connections, green was for accommodation suggestions, and yellow was for not-to-miss attractions. While as of this organization was a plus in my job in marketing, it turns out this isn’t necessarily the ideal way for me to travel. Day four I was in the lovely town of Kilkenny, Ireland and found myself immersed in Irish culture and having a blast listening to traditional Irish music while making friends with colorful locals. In fact, I had such a great time I truly wanted to stay a few extra nights to hang out with my new friends watching the hurling finals (which Kilkenny won – for the fourth year in-a-row.) But the fact was I had reservations at a B&B in Kinsale for the next two nights. Being that this was the only B&B I was staying in, I didn’t want to have to pay for a night’s accommodation if I wasn’t going to be there to enjoy it. Maybe it was just an inexpensive hostel but not a pricey B&B. So I sucked it up and left for Kinsale the next morning. (And for what it’s worth, I loved Kinsale very much and made some more friends there as well.) But, after I got to Kinsale I cancelled most of my remaining reservations so I could change cities and towns only if and when I felt the need. Yes, it is more expensive to book hostels and arrange for transportation at the last minute, but personally (as not everyone is alike and agrees with me) I feel its more exciting to play things by ear – and if you feel a special connection with somewhere, stay and enjoy it as much as you can. Another positive for me was I found it as a great way to delve deeper into a culture and learn more about the place I was visiting…and possibly more important, the people in it.

The Wall

You would think after my little Kilkenny/Kinsale lesson I would have learned something but the fact is I didn’t. Before I left the States for Ireland I was convinced that after three months of living on Inis Mór I would be bored out of my mind and ready to move on to the next destination. So, true to what I told everyone I was doing, I bought a plane ticket bound for Melbourne, Australia (via a short visit to Singapore and Phuket, Thailand.) But right about the time I’d been in my lovely village of Kilronan for two months, I found myself sitting on the wall in front of my hostel thinking that I finally felt I was somewhere I felt I belonged. It was a beautiful day outside and I was just enjoying the sunshine and conversations with the occasional passersby. I almost teared up at the thought of leaving this place. And the fact is, I hadn’t really felt such a strong connection with the city (or village, rather) I was living in since Blacksburg, Virginia (where I went to college.) In that moment I asked myself, “Why do I have to leave for Australia now? I’m thirty years old and a grown woman who is fully capable or making decisions for myself.” And I thought, “Didn’t this entire idea of moving overseas come up because I wanted to live in Ireland?” Right then and there I made up my mind that I wasn’t going to leave the island…not just yet anyway.

So everyone, stay tuned. I am travelling to Singapore and Phuket as planned, but instead of heading to Melbourne I will be going to Greece for a holiday! It’s a country on “my hit list” who wouldn’t want a few more weeks of warm, tropical weather?

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