Up, up and away

I recently wrote about ‘Fernweh’, the longing for the distance and missing travelling. At the time I was on my way to Berlin, looking out the window of a highspeed train, watching the landscape rush by.

Right now, I’m sitting at my desk, looking at hotels for the first time in almost a year. That’s a long time for me. Not that I look at hotels a lot. Often, when I travel I’m totally happy staying at hostels or guesthouses.

But it’s my birthday next week and I’m not celebrating. Instead, I’m thinking of a little getaway. Yes, on my motorbike, staying at a hotel somewhere and checking out the local sights and riding around on my bike.

The longing has just grown exponentially.

If thought I’d suffered from Fernweh two weeks ago, I really have it bad now. I don’t even know why it hit me so hard all of a sudden.

Perhaps because I haven’t looked at booking a hotel in such a long time and it is a feasible endeavour again. This is not just me dreaming about a possible future trip. This is me considering a booking for next week. The hotel I like best is about four times the price I would normally spend on two nights somewhere. But it would be my birthday present to myself, and I have rarely felt so much in need of a getaway.

I’m ready to just pack a bag and leave. Now.

Never mind that we’re reverting more and more lockdown measures, getting more and more freedom back and I am back at my secondary job as well. Which I enjoy immensely. Life is beginning to feel normal again.

And travel is a part of my life. Even if it would just be a two-day trip to a town further up north.

It is late now, I’m tired and I had a glass of wine. But I’m fairly certain I’ll be making that booking tomorrow.

Sometimes when you need to travel, you just need to travel.

And I absolutely do.

Fernweh

I’ve travelled a lot in the past. Two round-the-world-trips, over three months of travelling in the US (not at once), many shorter trips and living abroad.

In 2016 I returned home. Sort of. I did not return to the city of my birth but chose another one instead. A new beginning. I didn’t know anyone in Hamburg, but eventually I found my way, made friends and discovered that this is the best place for me to live in. I love Hamburg more than any other place I’ve ever lived in.

But just because I’ve found my home, does that mean I’m done travelling?

Of course not. When you’ve been bitten by the travel bug, there’s no real cure.

Two years ago, I started getting my motorcycle driving license, which I’m writing about elsewhere on this blog. I finished at the end of the season in October 2019. And when the new season started, we were already in the middle of a pandemic.

I had planned a one-month road trip to Norway for the summer of 2020. Needless to say, that didn’t happen.

I thought of doing a shorter trip within Germany, perhaps even ten days. But instead, I only went on a 5-day trip, circumstances didn’t allow for much more.

I went on a week-long vacation with my brother late September last year as well. I don’t consider that travelling, but it was a nice change of scenery.

In any case, I obviously didn’t do much travelling last year. Nobody really did. And given the circumstances, I didn’t feel that this was overly lamentable. It’s a luxury problem to have when you are unable to travel the way you usually would.

All things considered, I had absolutely no reason to complain, even though I’ve been on furlough in my second job for a long time.

But as I am sitting on the train, on my way to Berlin to visit my parents for Whitsunday, and celebrating my brother’s birthday next week as well, I look out at the horizon and realise that, yes, I miss travelling.

In German, we call it “Fernweh”, a word that has made it into the English language as well since it captures the notion of longing for the distance so well. One simple word to summarise a feeling that longs for everything beyond the horizon.

That doesn’t mean that I want to leave home or that I am not contend with my life where I am right now. Travelling is an addition to my life, not an escape from it (though it can be). Sometimes it is a way of life.

I don’t think long-distance travelling is in the near future for me. That’s simply not feasible. I’d be happy for some motorcycle trips, however. Germany is a beautiful country and there is much to discover.

Until then, sitting on the train and watching the landscape pass by for the hour and forty minutes it takes me to get from Hamburg to Berlin on the high-speed train will have to do.

The view from the train at 170 km/h