Recommended Book: everyone should have read 'On The Road,' so 'Big Sur' by Jack Kerouac
Currently Listening: Led Zeppelin "When the Levee Breaks"
My last big trip: across Europe and SouthEast Asia
My ideal day of travel: starts with a coffee and a cigarette in the town square, then includes a historic site or temple, getting lost, alcohol, finding a lover
Words to live by: If I had them my life would be a lot simpler
I am most passionate about: music and creativity
What I learned about myself when traveling around the world: can't put it into a sentence -- it's the article!
It was the middle of summer in Tel Aviv. I was on the top level of a nice house, unique from the others on the street, and I was to arrive in Lisbon the next day. Although I should have been excited, brimming with glee over the opportunity to discover something new and something strange, I wasn’t. I was scared. I chain-smoked cheap Israeli cigarettes on the small balcony of my distant relatives to fight the feeling of anxiety for the next big step. The adventure.
The question people ask themselves most when travelling is simple and identical but the answers change constantly, ever forming and combining with new experiences and night time epiphanies. The anxiety I felt on the rooftop of my cousin's house on the eve of my arrival into Portugal made me question my worth as a traveler. Perhaps I was no different from all my neighbours in Melbourne who have received their beliefs and ideologies on a silver spoon fed to them by their teachers and preachers.
But the day I arrived into Lisbon would forever change the way I felt about stepping off of a bus into the unknown. The feelings of doubt were met with the joy of absolute opportunity when your brain is overwhelmed by the number of stimuli it has to translate and decode for your personal enjoyment. I trudged along with my backpack looking around -- everywhere. Everywhere was something new, something completely unexplained yet so natural. Life, but on a new set with new actors and a totally foreign script.
It was at this point when I had realized that I was lost, and not lost how one is lost at home, trying to figure whether two ways get to the same place but truly lost in a way I’ve never been before. I did not know any streets. I didn’t not know any faces or any stores, but I was not afraid. This feeling made me happier than I had ever been, the true reason why the journey is far more pleasing to the senses than the destination.
This had in turn set about a chain reaction of thoughts branching smaller and smaller until arriving back to the ever persisting question of why one travels. This is why. The feeling of being blissfully lost and the hope of never being found that usually comes with the former. I made a mental note to always do this: to get purposefully lost in every new town I arrived in. My thought process was slowly being altered and I was not even aware of it!
Looking back at my childhood I’d always feared getting lost as though it was a permanent state of confusion and inferiority of all those around you who aren’t. It was in this beautiful summer afternoon in the centre of Lisbon that I realized that it was not those lost who are fledgling but those who are living the illusion that they know where they are and how to get where they are going. I felt connected to the generations of spectacularly lost souls before me who create all that is beautiful trying to find the answers to questions that they don’t merely contemplate but live by.
After my epiphany-filled walk I finally arrived at my hostel. Now no matter what anyone tells you, a good hostel is an essential part of the puzzle that makes up travel. And I don’t mean a clean hostel nor a big hostel, and I definitely don’t mean its facilities. The most important part is the people: both those who live there and those who work there. In my hostel is Lisbon I was lucky enough to get the best of both. Staff who were as much amazed by the historical value of Portugal as those tourists who flock there every year; staff who want nothing more than for you to love the country as much as they do.
One night one of those lovely staff members took me to Alfama, the oldest part of Lisbon, a section that had been devastated by the earthquake in the 18th century but had rebuild itself exactly as it was. Houses piled on top of houses like I had never seen before, a blissful community who had realized the way they want to live and to indulge and would not let anything stand in their way. It was in these little moments that I realized the importance of history and the impact it has in the way a community lives. I realized how young my homeland Australia is - that it is an infant country who, although economically stable, has no idea of the kind of country it will become and the unstoppable circumstances that will shape its history.
After these experiences my travel companion and I decided it was time to simply relax. Building on every human's desire of discovery -- to be the first person somewhere - we decided to do the next best thing that every traveler at one point or another is destined to yearn for which is a place that is off the tourist map. These are the places that we as travelers have “discovered”, like Columbus discovering America years after others. We found one place called Zambujeira De Mar, heaven by the sea of a tiny village built on the cliffs hanging over the Mediterranean. There we adjourned to our small room with a balcony overlooking the water.
I believe we love seeing something naturally beautiful because it represents undeniable truth, something unchanged in our constantly altering world. That’s how I felt looking over the cliffs, contemplating what it is I truly want in life. Money? Fame? Recognition? Maybe, but above all I want beauty: something that has been unchanged over the years. Something that hasn’t lost its innocence by human reckoning.
Ultimately the reason I travel is for discovery, and while there are infinite opportunities for discovery in one’s home it is only when we are faced with a timer that we wish to discover as much as we can. I never knew why sloth was considered a sin; it does not harm anyone. But on my travels I came to the realization that sloth is the enemy of progress. It is often impossible to see the big picture of how short life is when we are placed into an eighty-year-old timer, but when the time is shortened to a month or maybe two we somehow become the people we always want to be but procrastinate to another time.
Ultimately I love travel because I am who I always want to be when I am on the road and never who I want to be when I am home. Give me a timer and I'll give you a result, give me infinite life and I'll spend it laying in my hammock and looking at the sky.