At home, I am wrapped up in my life. There is work – freelance and part-time jobs -, there are chores at home, grocery shopping, the occasional outing with friends. All that and more. The daily stuff that we do unthinking.
Today I sit on a train. My brother gifted me a weekend in Prague for my birthday six months ago. What with the pandemic and all we only now managed to make a booking. Hence my being on a train. I could have taken a flight. Or perhaps not. Remember the pandemic. The train is, in any case, infinitely more comfortable.
And aside from the physical comfort, I get to enjoy the added benefit of time. After all, when do we ever get the luxury of sitting and spending our time not wrapped up in mindlessness whilst still going someplace?
Instead of browsing through social media, which I do too much of at home, I am reading a book. Yes, on my tablet, which is also where I’m writing this, but it still counts.
Especially since it not only reminded me why I want to write but because it also got me writing.
Later, I will take out my notebook and I’ll see what might emerge from the tip of my pen. For now, I shall return to my book and enjoy this luxury of taking a trip, away from everything else, and having time to spend on thinking thoughts.
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.