Thursday, April 28, 2016

W for Wanderlust

I was not an aspiring wanderlust growing up. No, I have not covered as many countries or traveled as exotically as many of my friends have. But, of late, I have picked up joy from traveling and have even toyed with the idea of doing a solo trip, this girl here being my latest inspiration. How would it be like, to walk the paved streets of a city alone, traversing the maps, struggling with the local language, figuring out their tram / metro transport, bumping into people I don't know and having a laugh with them.

I have taken a step ahead in the solo thingy, twice in my life, though there are miles to go before I can call myself a solo traveler. 

The first time was at Amsterdam, when I had to take a tram alone in an unknown city for the time, to get to Rijksmuseum. It was my first European museum visit, and by far my best (yeah, even better than the Louvre). The autumn flowers were withering away, winter was setting in, the sky was a dull grey, and all around me was a sparsely populated city walking in dark winter coats and boots. On I went directly to Rijksmuseum, and identified a cafe opposite the museum to settle down for breakfast and hot chocolate. It was as if time had stopped still. There was no one but me, and my kindle, there, in the semi-open door setting, looking out at the museum and the "I Love Amsterdam" structure ahead. I wanted to sit there forever and read my book in peace, but then reminded myself that in order to get full value for the money of my trip to Amsterdam, I needed to get out and explore the place. Collecting an audio guide and a map of the museum, off I went in and in to the museum, eventually spending a good two hours marveling at the creations. Other than some of the most famous paintings housed in there (the Night's Watch is quite breathtaking), the category that caught my eye was the miniature. Miniature doll houses with furnishings and furniture mirroring the real ones (made from the same materials too - teak for teak, silk for silk) were the most beautiful. So were the miniature apothecaries filled with medicine bottles, measurement tubes and some such. After I had exhausted the museum and bought trinkets at the museum shop like a true tourist, I went to another cafe to relive my solitary happiness. After a few minutes there, I was bored of being alone having spent over half a day without talking to anyone. Thankfully, V joined by then, after finishing some urgent work, cooped up in the hotel room (on holiday!).

The second time was more of a real solo day, at Dubrovnik last year. We had estimated more time for Dubrovnik than necessary, and I ended up being alone on the last day, with nothing to do, having explored all sides of the wall, and clicking pictures from down to up to down. After having lunch alone, I decided to do something daring, something I have never done before - take a ferry alone to an island. As I waited for the ferry by the pier, I put my Indian mentality to good use and tried to be as far ahead as possible in the crowd, to get into the ferry early and capture one of the choicest seats. When the ferry arrived, I was the first one to board, and then realised I was the last one to board as well. Everyone else seemed to be waiting for something else, and I had my first truly alone ferry ride, all of 600 metres to Lokrum island. I imagined the island will also be empty, gearing up for the adventure, taking a few ferry selfies, enjoying the breeze of the Adriatic sea. As I alighted, I understood all those enthusiastic tourists had already reached Lokrum to have picnic lunches. Lokrum is a nice small cosy island with a botanical garden and some endangered species for company. I couldn't find any other endangered species but peacocks and peahens, as I went around the island, clicking pictures and trying to capture as much detail as I could in my mind (which wasn't much - it was only a brownish green patch stretching around me on all sides). In the middle of the island was a dilapidated structure, something between a mansion and a castle, though most of the walls and roofs were missing. Imagining all sorts of haunted stories, I walked closer, rubbing my palms in anticipation of the adventure, only to be greeted by a cafe within the structure, and tourists taking picture.s No, there is no escaping selfie sticks anymore. Within half hour, my tour was completed, and I came back to take the last ferry back to Dubrovnik. This time it was massively crowded and I didn't put any fight for the choicest seats, as I knew now from experience that the ride was all of 3 minutes.

Some day, some day, I am hoping to do a solo trip, where I would actually interact with other humans (and not just click pictures with animals and inanimates), and perhaps make a few friends on the way. And who knows, I might take the plunge and do something truly adventurous like parasailing when alone. That would be a 'wanderlustic' trip in the real sense. 

P. S. This post is the twenty third in the A-Z blogging challenge series for April. 

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