I’ve been in New York City for a week now, and still have a week to go. It’s certainly a different experience to other big cities I’ve visited. I suppose most of that has to do with the scale of it. This place is so big, and so dense, that expecting to get a handle on it in just a couple of weeks seems ridiculous. I can usually feel comfortable with a new transit system in just a few days, but I’m on day eight in New York, and still find myself double and triple checking maps, trains, and stations. There is an incredible, exhausting energy here. I find myself feeling tired, even if I’ve hardly done anything.
I thought I would enjoy the city more. It’s certainly not a place I could imagine living. There are too many things that drain my energy, and not enough quiet or beautiful places to recharge. Central Park is overly manicured. Full of concrete walking paths, roads, and trees that are too small to hide what surrounds it. The constant sirens and horns pierce any sense of calm. Most of the grass is fenced off and unwelcoming. It underscores how lucky I am to be from a city that has so much natural beauty so close at hand.
I’m curious to see how my second week goes. With a decent chuck of the sights now seen, I’m hoping some more relaxed exploring will make this place feel more comfortable. Right now, another week doesn’t seem like enough time for that. From what I’ve heard, even a few years might not cut it. Maybe that’s what New York City is all about.
Well, here I am again. Travelling. The Balkan Boyz reunited in Vancouver, and have spent the last month driving across Canada and the States. We’re about to leave Nova Scotia, back to the US for November, then onwards South. The journey feels different this time. Not as fresh, and sometimes not as exciting, but still a wonderful time. The friendship rolls on, the photos are made. It’s shaping up to be the second half of the ‘twice in a lifetime’ travel experience.
We’ve covered over 7600 kilometres in my car. Having the freedom to access almost anything has been fantastic. I really can’t imagine seeing North America any other way. Tomorrow it’s back to airports, bus stations, and transit systems. I hope I haven’t been spoiled, because we’re just getting started!
Atmosphere Visual Effects is a small company. Many of us have been there for a long time. Worked with the same colleagues, and eventually friends, for years. We’ve seen each other’s lives change; seen each other grow as people, and now, we’ve seen one of us die. I won’t forget Tom gathering our attention to let us all know that Denise had gone to the hospital feeling ill, and within a couple of days, had passed away. It was unbelievable. She’d just had her second child a few months ago. It felt like only the week before that she was in for a visit to say ‘hello’ and introduce the new baby. She was energetic and cheerful. She was happy.
A memorial fund has been setup for Denise’s family. I’m glad to see so many people contributing to it.
Death has a way of focusing one’s attention on life. Even more so when it’s the sudden death of someone so young. It’s a selfish reaction, but an understandable one. I was doubting my upcoming travel plans. Not seriously; not considering changing my mind, but doubting if more extended travel was a smart life choice. Is it the best use of my money at this point? Is it the best use of my time? Shouldn’t I focus on my career? On building a more permanent existence here?
“Live now. Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.”
A healthy 34 year old, living in one of the world’s best countries, can be cut down by life without a moment’s notice. That’s the reality of our existence. It’s a sad thing that, even with such knowledge, many of us put off living. We spend too much time working. Too much time commuting. Too much time watching TV. Not enough time with our families, our partners, our friends. I finally let work know that I’m going travelling again. At least six months through the Americas with the Balkan Boyz.
We Humans might not be able to do everything in just one lifetime. But we can at least try to make sure that whenever our number comes up, the bucket list has more things crossed off than left over. Go out there and live. Do stuff. It might be your last chance.
5 Life Lessons From 5 Years Of Travelling The World
I’ve read a lot of blog posts and articles about long term travel. I find most of them to be overly romantic, filled with an exaggerated sense of meaning. Travel is a different lifestyle, but I’d never say that it automatically ‘means’ more or ‘changes you’ more than a conventional life can. People can have wildly different life experiences, whether they’re travelling or not. It’s those experiences that can change a person, and it’s not always important where they happen or why.
I do find myself agreeing with a lot of this Man’s feelings on long term travel. From the idea of a wide and varied, but ultimately thin experience, to the difficulty in committing to other parts of life. I’ve seen many examples of what he writes about, both in myself, and in others. Even with all of the possible down sides, it seems like everyone who travels this way at least once in their lives comes away with a common feeling. They never regret having done it.
Neither do I.
It was one year ago that I started a nearly week long tour through the Australian Outback. Though I tend to shun tours most of the time, the Outback isn’t exactly accessible to a lone taveller without his own transportation. Besides, at this point I’d been away for so long, I was having trouble finding the energy to do everything for myself. Even before arriving in the country, I was a bit surprised to hear that so many people visit Australia’s East coast, but not the ‘Red Centre’. I suppose the appeal of tropical weather and wonderful beaches is a priority for most, and the backpacker infrastructure along that coast is extensive. Still, I always remember seeing Uluru, or ‘Ayers Rock’, in Australian tourism ads. It felt like a cliche I couldn’t ignore.
I’m so glad I didn’t.
The Outback is one of the most unique environments I’ve visited. Red soil and silver grass. Flat horizons broken by immense rocks. It’s interesting how forested mountains can seem similar all over the world, but every desert feels special. There are a lot of countries with beautiful beaches, and a lot of countries with hot weather. This is a place Australia can truly call its own. From canyon hikes to salt flats. Underground towns to rock peaks. Star filled night skies to dramatic sunrises. The Outback offered some of the most striking scenery of my year around the world.
As much as I like to explore on my own, there is one great benefit to taking an organized tour. The people. Booking during the Winter season meant it wasn’t a large group, and with so many long drives across South Australia and the Northern Territory, there was plenty of time to get to know each other. Sharing it all with a group reminded me a little of my time with the Balkan Boyz, though on this trip, only one friendship will last a lifetime. Sitting around campfires. Sleeping around stoves. Preparing meals. Talking under the stars. Sights, activities, laughs, and tears. I’m all smiles when I look back on it now.
My Outback tour did confirm a long held belief of mine. If you’re tired of something. If you’re bored, or uninspired, or lost. If you’re not sure whether to stop, or to keep going…keep going. Force yourself forward. Push. Push until you’re absolutely sure you’re done. You can never know what’s around the corner. You can never know what might come tomorrow. If you stop, you might miss a chance to reignite your passion. You might never find what fuels the next leg of your journey. Keep breathing, stay positive, look ahead, and don’t give up.
It’s already been a year. Unbelievable. Arriving in Australia. Seeing so many friends I’d made during my travels. Being back in a Western country. Not being too hot all the time. I had exactly what I wanted and needed. After travelling for nearly nine months, Melbourne felt like home, without actually being home. I never intended to spend three weeks there, but generous and wonderful friends meant the only hard decision was leaving at all. It’s still one of the only cities I can seriously imagine living in.
Thank you again, Melbourne. To all of the people who made my time there amazing, you know who you are, and I miss you.
Thinking back to my trip to Oz in February, and forward to the guys arrival in Canada in September. The Balkan Boyz are gearing up for another epic tour! Can we come up with even more ridiculously amazing travel moments?
We got this!