In case you haven’t figured it out already, travel is something that is always on my mind. After getting over the the euphoria of one trip (if that is even possible), and sometimes even while on a trip, I am always thinking about the next one.
Last year while in Germany, I decided that I wanted my next trip to be somewhere outside of Europe, since my last 4 trips (including that one) were there and I thought it high time I visited another continent. I don’t know what it is about Europe that draws me to it so much but I just keep wanting to go back. I also decided that whenever I do go back to Europe, that it’d be in winter.
I’ve got family in Canada who have been asking for years for my mom and I to visit them, and I figured that it would only be right for me to go there next. Canada is one of those places I am considering emigrating to at some point because it has the kind of lifestyle that I want. I love mountains and lakes and open space, and want to be in a place where the quality of living is high and the stress levels are low. I also want to be able to enjoy the outdoors and not have to go very far out to do that. Johannesburg is great for building a career, but in the long term, it is not the kind of life I want.
When I go to Canada, I want it to be for at least a month so that I can see as much as I possibly can while also spending some time with my family in Toronto and Montreal. I also want to do hikes and see the national parks like Banff, and visit Whistler for a couple of days too. I even have a friend in Saskatchewan that I’d like to stop over at.
Since I’d be going so far, I thought it would be a good idea to visit friends in New York and San Francisco as well, since I plan to go across the country all the way to Vancouver. A colleague of mine, Elize, told me about a business trip she once did to Vancouver, accompanied by her husband. While she was busy with all the business she had gone for, Elize suggested that her husband take a boat trip to Alaska. He didn’t want to and she still remembers that opportunity that he missed. She told me about it not knowing that I’ve always wanted to go to Alaska. A boat trip from Vancouver was one of the ways to do it. I am going to keep that in mind until I actually put the Canada plans into motion.
From the time I used to build that humongous world map puzzle when my age was in single digits, I was always fascinated with that curved piece of land above Europe; it was one of a couple puzzle pieces that joined the one that said “Baltic Sea”. Norway, Sweden, and Finland were green, yellow, and purple on that puzzle. I remember it like it were yesterday. I not only loved the names of those countries for reasons I still can’t comprehend, but there was something about what appeared to be a hundred rivers cutting up the edge of the westernmost country, Norway. Not only that, there was also this little pointy bit that stuck out towards the top of it.
As I got older, I found out that those ‘hundred rivers’ were actually called Fjords. It was only until much later, after having access to the Internet and social media, did I find out that those pictures that I loved the most were of a place called the Lofoten Archipelago – that ‘pointy bit’ that caught my interest every time I built that puzzle. And I built it many times.
More than 20 years later, I’m at the point in my life where I can actually get myself there. It’s only when writing about it now do I realise how long my obsession with it has existed.
It’s funny, I started writing this post thinking that I was in a predicament about what to do and when, but I just answered my own question 2 paragraphs ago.
Anyway, before I came to the realisation that I just did, let me explain the 2 contradicting reasons I want to go to Norway.
- The Northern Lights. Need I say why? There is only one problem with this, however: even though probably the most ultimate bucket list item of mine would be ticked off after seeing it, it means that I’d have to go beyond the Arctic Circle in the middle of winter. Yes, I did want my next trip to Europe to be in winter and I would absolutely die for the experience of going north of the Arctic Circle, but thanks to Norway’s latitude, this means that there would be almost 24 hours of darkness. It’s not the cold that I’m worried about (I prefer cold to heat), it was that. The best time to see the Northern Lights is between late September and late March, and the more north you go closer to December, the fewer the hours of daylight. To make a trip that far to a country I’ve had some kind of spiritual ties to since childhood would just not make sense when my plan is to do a 12 day cruise along the coast. If the Northern Lights was all I’d be able to see (and even that won’t be guaranteed), is it really be worth spending that much money for so many days? Granted, I’d be able to do things like dog sledding and other snow-related activities, but then that means I’d have to go pretty much in December when it is actually snowing. Snow is good, but have you ever heard of a Polar Night? That’s 24 hours of darkness and it happens for pretty much the entire month of December. No.
- The Fjords. Norway is known for it’s rugged beauty. As I said before, I love mountains and lakes more than anything else. Fjords are on another level. I would just not be satisfied sitting on a ship all day because of the darkness. This means that I will need to choose between winter and summer. The Northern Lights or the Fjords. As of today, the Fjords are winning. Why? Yes, it’s not like I wouldn’t be able to see them in winter, but in winter, I wouldn’t be able to actually get off the ship and hike them. I’d be able to see them from sea level and that’d be it. Even though I know I’d regret not going for the lights, I’d have traveled so far and not been able to truly see the country. Going in the middle of summer means that I’d experience the total opposite of the Polar Night, namely the Midnight Sun. I’d literally be able to wake up in the middle of the night and hike. Even if the hiking opportunity at night might only be possible once or twice, it’d be a totally unique experience nonetheless.
You may be wondering what cruise I’ve been talking about all this time. If you haven’t already heard about them, I am talking about Hurtigruten. They are a company that started by doing Norwegian cruises, but have also now expanded to the Americas, Iceland, and even Antarctica, among others. I’m planning to do what they call the “Classic Round Trip” voyage which starts in Bergen and goes all the way to Kirkenes, a mere 11km or so from the Russian border.
So where on earth did India come from? I have my mother to thank for that. I’m not going to say how this suggestion came about or why it is on this list (I’ll save that for another post), but recently I have been thinking a lot about how precious time is. If my mother is able and willing to go to India, then I will put my plans aside and go with her. We don’t value the time we have with our parents or other loved ones enough, so if I have the opportunity to go with her on what could very well be her last trip, how could I miss that? I’m still young and I hopefully still have plenty time left on this earth, but I can never get back the time I have with my mother.
Anyway, sentimental reasons aside, she wants to go to some of the hill stations like Manali, Shimla, and Dehradun. They’ve been places I’ve wanted to see for some time too, so it’s a win-win.
Okay, just to make myself clear, this isn’t one of the predicaments I am facing, but it is just one of those things that I thought are worth mentioning because I can’t be the only one that is experiencing it.
I am being pressured by my father to find a boyfriend and get married. Yes, I know. I have just 2 things to say about that:
- It will happen one day, but I’m in no hurry. I fell in love once and it couldn’t work out, and until I have that kind of connection with someone again (or even the same person, who knows), I don’t see why I should rush into anything. People these days rush into relationships just because they don’t want to be alone, and then they end up being miserable because that person doesn’t actually make them happy. The one thing I will never do is settle for some guy just for the sake of saying I’m married. It’s not worth it.
- Yes, I do want to get married and have kids, but until I meet someone, why should I not live my life? I don’t want to wake up old, sick, and fragile one day wondering why I didn’t take that trip when I was young and able and had no ties to keep me down. Many people spend all their time building their careers and trying to set themselves up for an early retirement or whatever, not realising that we actually don’t know if we’ll even be alive long enough to see that happen. By all means, save some money, but don’t just let your life pass you by. Stop taking your time or health for granted. Trust me.
Otherwise, if it wasn’t already clear, it has basically come down to Norway or India, and it all depends on my mother. She isn’t the only factor, but she is the main one. Of course I will be documenting everything once a decision has been made. Till then, do yourself a favour and go plan a trip.