Tuesday, December 2, 2008

On Leaving

"When you're telling people about Dubrovnik, are you going to say "oh, the old town was nice, and the city walls were nice", or are you going to tell them that you got drunk and went down to the beachfront at night and got soaked sitting on the rocks?"

- Claire, an Irish girl from last night

It's my last day in Dubrovnik tomorrow. Getting the overnight ferry to Bari tomorrow night. And tomorrow, it all pretty much changes. I'll be back in the Schengen zone, back in the West, I'll be heading back to London, where it all began.

Dubrovnik in winter is a bit temperamental, and I've been stuck in the middle of a bad patch today. It gave me some time to mull over a few things. Like the above quote. Like some of the people I met last night; professional travelers who work in a country, travel around it, and then move on. Like what I wanted to do in this trip, and what I've actually done.

When you listen to people tell their stories, you can feel it calling at you. There's that temptation to just let everything go, to just slip away and let the currents take you where it will. Some people have. And the freedom of it seems intoxicating. There is something exciting about being dumped in the middle of a city, with no idea where you're going to go. And it's amazing to be in a new place every week or so. If you can get over the homesickness, I'd imagine it's a pretty hard life to let go.

Claire was right on a few things. To travel, you've got to experience the culture. You've got to take these set of pretty buildings and nice scenery (is this a sic?) and make it your own. You've actually got to get off your arse, meet some locals instead of hanging out all the time in backpacker hostels, and establish a bit of rapport with the populace.

You've got to make an effort.

And to be honest, I really haven't made much of an effort since I've come to the East. I look back now, and there's nothing much that's really stuck. I've seen some nice places, and I've eaten some weird food. I've been to places I never knew existed, and I've had the most surreal experiences (like being yelled at by a crazy old guy in a Salibury supermarket - he thought I was a homosexual and coming onto him because I stood too close to him in the queue).

But to make your experiences stick, you've got to do something extra. You've got to creep to the end of your comfort zone and jump over that boundary every so often. Travel's to do with expanding your horizons, and I admit that I've been cosy in my comfort zone since about Berlin.

Probably missed out on a lot of things.

And that night on the beach really was exceptional. Secluded rocky cove. Whipping winds. Black sky, black rocks, black sea. Big, crashing waves. In the day, the Adriatic seems beautiful. In the night, it's threatening and powerful and menacing. It's a buzz to feel the power behind each wave. And it's exhilarating to get drenched by a particularly large wave.

Of course, in the cold (and rainy) light of day, we were probably looked like a bunch of drunken wankers. So maybe it's just a matter of perspective? Something to think about on the ferry, I suppose.


Anonymous said...

Oh well, I guess it is difficult to make an effort after a couple of weeks.

I guess I will receive an email in Italy

Your brother.

Connolly's agent said...

Yep. From Napoli.