Neglect touring all of 1 continent in 21 days. How about only one metropolis, as an alternative? – Boulder Every day Digicam
, Especially for the Denver Post
In the summer of 2019, I packed up my Boulder apartment and headed out to travel indefinitely. I had written about travel for a few years and occasionally met journalists and bloggers who called themselves digital nomads. Instead of having a home, they had a suitcase. Instead of booking return flights, they kept traveling.
I was fascinated by this lifestyle. I could do my job from the street. So why not try it? I had planned a short trip to Japan and decided to continue traveling after that. A few hours after emptying my apartment, I got on a plane. Two weeks later, after a brief visit to Boulder, I flew two weeks to Mexico and then to Colombia, where I stayed for three months.
In the new series of columns by Kassondra Cloos, she will share the revelations that come with “slow journeys”, adventures that seek to gain time to absorb the life around us, to experience places, people and cultures and there to be where we are and where we are not where we might be or where we are going next. Give her a warm hello!
As more of us spend more time working remotely, you might be tempted to take your life on the streets too. In my experience, a life of constant travel is hardly more glamorous than life at home. The reality that lies right in front of the perfect frames you see on Instagram is that packing and unpacking all the time is stressful, and it’s lonely starting over in a new city week after week.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t go. Instead of hopping around town, stay in fewer places longer – long enough to find a cafe you love and visit more than once. Whether you are planning a month in Europe (when the borders are reopened) or a year around the globe, I advise you to give your travel room to breathe.
This year my journey has slowed significantly amid a pandemic that has grounded almost everyone. I moved to London from Mexico City in July and used the time difference (seven hours before Denver) to work at night and spend my days exploring the city on foot.
I left my apartment at 3:30 am one morning in August to watch the sun rise from a hilltop park overlooking the Thames. I then spent hours wandering the streets of Richmond, a corner of London that feels more like a city than a metropolis. I wandered through a forest and enjoyed the scent of the earth and the feeling of mulch under my feet. I walked until I found Richmond Park, a huge green oasis with its own herd of deer, and lay on the grass reading a book.
I was so uncharacteristically quiet that a man walking down the path laughed in surprise as he got closer. “You are a person!” he said. “I thought you were a tree trunk in the distance, but no!” I also burst out laughing.
The book I read was Notes from a Little Country, Bill Bryson’s story of walking across Britain. Inspired, I decided to walk the 11 miles home. I walked along the Thames, through historic neighborhoods and streets with charming boutiques, celebrating a city that was reopening after being closed for almost two months. I rested under a tree in Green Park, very close to Buckingham Palace, noticing the ends and beginnings of neighborhoods where architectural styles were changing.
It’s no secret that hiking is the best way to see a city – I’m not saying anything earth-shaking here. As you travel more slowly, on foot instead of by bus, by train instead of plane, you see less and less. You travel fewer kilometers, but you can see life in greater focus. You will be enchanted by the cakes in a bakery window, fascinated by two friends playing table tennis in a park. They mark a point on Google Maps that is perfect for a return visit to watch a sunrise. With no tours to hurry to and plans to keep going, you will find places that are not suitable for tourists and you will have time to wonder how different and similar life is beyond your home bubble .
For me, the joy of traveling shows up somewhere and experiences everything without the need to ask: “What’s next?” or “are we there yet?” because everything around me is worth seeing. I now treat grocery stores like museums – what’s on display, what’s popular – and always go to the local McDonald’s, not because I miss the familiar, but because I’m curious to see what’s different. (It should be a crime that tsukimi pie, a fried mochi and red bean paste candy, is only sold at McDonald’s in Japan.) I recently spent a morning marveling at all the meat-flavored potato chips in a London grocery store. How did “Pigs in a Blanket” and “Beef Wellington” become chip flavors?
The ability to get back to places has become my favorite part of slower travel. Instead of trying to find the highlights of a city in a single day before moving on to the next adventure, I take time to browse foreign magazines at newsstands and have a cup of tea in a cafe that I could go to every day until I become a “regular guest”. “Slow travel is about getting to know a few places really well, rather than getting to know a lot of places just a little. It’s about being here wherever “here” is, rather than shortening the minutes to the next step. And that’s what I’m supposed to be here for.
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