I am an avid traveller. Or I used to be at least. And traveller is a fancy word – I was a proper tourist.
While navigating aimlessly the internet, I came across of a rather boring scene filmed with a phone. The scene was somewhere in Italy, in a small square packed with people watching a street artist performing. In a corner of the small square was equally a girl with a sign saying: “free hugs”. And people approaching her, getting some well deserved and happy hugs from a perfect stranger. That is definitely a scene that two months ago It wouldn’t have drawn my attention at all. That was the norm.
With the risk of being nostalgic, or melancholic, or simply cheesy i admit that I started to cry. Cry hard, sobbing.
I would have never imagined this will change. I could have imagine a lot of things changing, just not this one. I completely erased from my mind in the past years the privilege of being free and having the opportunity of moving wherever and being able to go in all those amazing places.
I say that I have forgotten about my privilege because it was a time when every trip was a wonder, a miracle. I will never forget the first time I set foot in Italy. It was one of those minibuses that transited the few countries from Romania to Italy, crammed with Romanian workers headed to a better future and a land of golden possibilities. I was going there to visit my mother. She was one of those workers and I haven’t seen her for about two years. That is a story for another time.
The sheer wonder and high emotions, that stay within me until this day, of seeing a lemon tree on the Mediterranean coast made me sob with the chin tucked in my chest. Oh! the shame! I didn’t wanted to be seen by my co national travellers crying.
To this day my love affair with Italy has not decreased in intensity. I dare to say that one day our love will triumph and we will be together, until then, I live on the memories of my beloved Italy.
After that first trip I was hooked. I spent all the money I had on going places. Europe is one of those lands filled with breathing history. Every trip was worth it. Every experience, every square, every little street crammed with tourists, every new culinary experience, every museum, every new way of having coffee, every building, every Greek ruin or island, every Roman forum, every shore and coast in Europe is bloody amazing. The life of a small square, the music, the terraces and crowded queues to see the Vatican, Berlin and his underground hipster gatherings, the Big Ben and Westminster palace, the taverna in Athens, Prague and it’s mysterious ways of the old city, the wonderful Danube from Budapest and Belgrade, the Balkan lifestyle and party, the best fish I ever had in a small family restaurant in Faro, the best wine somewhere on an island in Croatia, all the beauty of Sweden, the snow, the cinnamon buns, the cold and the impossible cool danish people of Copenhagen, the arrogant waiters in Paris, the nice French people on their famous riviera. All the humans and details of my trips in good old Europe I carry within and cherish more than ever.
It’s not with sadness but with gratitude and humility that I carry all those places within me. I know we will travel differently, in a (maybe) better, more sustainable way, more conscious and responsible. Yet, I cannot help and think: what a great privilege I’ve had and what lies ahead, I wonder? Will I take for granted my upcoming experiences? No. Because I never have.
Rant over. From blonde to yours. Stay safe, be safe.