Wednesday, November 19, 2008

My three month anniversary

"I'm leaving tonight. I'm going off to Europe for six months. It's starting to shit me off. I'm starting to realise that it's a really, really long time and it's a lot of money. But still - it's something I've got to do. I'm going to go mad, otherwise."

- Me, three months ago. Yes, I'm quoting myself. 

It's raining in Istanbul. 

It's remarkable because, before today, I never would have thought that it rained here. Every day I've experienced in Istanbul had previously been golden and sunny and warm. It's partly why I like it here so much. And I genuinely like it here. Istanbul represents the halfway point in my trip in so many ways. It's nice to sit here on the edge of Europe and contemplate everything I seen, and everything I've yet to see. 

The header might've given it away but, it's my three month anniversary today. My halfway point - geographically, chronologically and probably financially, too. 

The quote above was lifted from my final post in Melbourne. I can still remember writing it - I really was shitting myself thinking with worry, thinking about all the things that could go wrong and hoping about all the things that could go right. It seems like such a long time ago, but it really wasn't. Three months is the time it takes to find an Australian Idol. It's half a football season. And yet, it's also half a world away. And it feels like a lifetime ago. 

I've got a map of Europe in my office (and I hope it's still there). In the weeks before I left, I traced out various routes and itineraries, popping post-it notes over places I wanted to see. I envisaged doing a big circle around Europe, starting in London and going as far east as Istanbul before heading back to London. It's strange much it's gone to plan. Kind of sad, really. I thought I would've been side-tracked more often. 

It's not what I expected - it's a lot easier and a lot more comfortable than I thought it would be. My relative wealth has insulated me from the real hardships that long-term travellers go through, and my natural sense of caution has always kept me within sight of the beaten track. I'm at least five years too late for the prom, so to speak. 

It's been worth it, though. Most of it's mundane and rather boring. You can get bogged down with transport and accommodation and trying to find enough to eat without straining your nominal budget. And you quickly settle in an everyday routine that innures you from everything that happens around you. But then, something rubs you differently, and it hits you that you're in Europe, and you're in this places that you've spent such a long time thinking about. 

And that makes it all worthwhile. 

Still, I can't help thinking about where I'll be in three months' time. When I left Melbourne, I was an absolute quivering mess. I just wanted six months off to clear my head. And now that my head's vacuously empty, I'm started to look ahead. I don't want to, mind you. I've still three months to go, and I'd like to enjoy that time without having the worries of everyday life crowding my vistas. 

In my last Melbourne post, I wrote: 

Best just to go with the flow and trust that it'll turn good eventually. Yes, you can cater for every contingency and plan everything to the last second, but where's the fun in that?

I should take that to heart. It is me, after all. 

P.S. And here's something cool that Jim Schembri wrote in The Age. 


Anonymous said...

Just saying hi and hoping you are having a good time in Turkey.


Connolly's agent said...

Turkey was good. People are really friendly, the sights are fascinating and the kebabs are cheap and plentiful. I got mobbed by a bunch of Turkish schoolkids in Gallipoli as well, which was really cool. Ended up taking a bunch of photos with them.

I'm in Belgrade now, though. Maybe spend a week in the Balkans before winding up at Dubrovnik.