A little over a month ago, my mom’s very good friend and her husband went on a trip to Turkey. They are a very well traveled couple and even went with a travel group of people on this trip. They have been to Europe several times and both have very social and aware personalities. This all goes to show that you can never be too prepared.
I say over and over again to friends and relatives and readers to research your trip. For example, I was a little nervous going to Cairo by myself in 2011, so I specifically researched female traveler safety tips. I read blogs, travel sites, and national travel guides. Somewhere I read to cover my head no matter what and to wear headphones not plugged into anything. If I had headphones in and I was being harassed, the predator was more likely to dismiss me ignoring them on the account that I could not hear them. So why not plug them in? Well, because it would inhibit my awareness of my surroundings. Little advice like this is crucial. So I decided to write to my readers about my mom’s dear friend.
The second or third week of this November, they were on their last day in Turkey and heading home. They stopped at the market to look for some more souvenirs to bring home. Her husband found a decorative knife and bought it for himself to bring home. They packed up their bags and headed to the airport. He did not put the knife in the carry on but in his checked bag to be safe. While at the gate, they called him over and asked if he had papers for the knife in his luggage. He replied that he did not and they asked him to wait. He knew it might take awhile so he told his wife and friends to go on ahead and he would take the next flight.
When my mom’s friend got home to America, she came to find out that her husband was arrested at the airport after she left and was put into prison. It is against a Turkey Law to remove antiquities from the country, and the knife was enough of an antique to cause problems. They had no idea. They thought it was just your average souvenir. He stayed in prison for about 2-3 weeks, after they had countless Turkish and American lawyers, the embassy, the consulate, and several politicians involved. He had to stay in Turkey for a hearing and put under house arrest. Thankfully he is now home for the holidays with his family, but it is quite scary what happened to him.
While on the train this morning, a twenty something girl came into my car. She recognized the other girl about the same age sitting
across from me and sat next to me instead. She squished her over sized bag and coat between my body and the car pole by the seats. She explained that she did not want to sit next to her “friend” because she felt that she was getting sick….gee…thanks….
I tried to point my face from then on in the other direction, which meant my ear was turned toward their entire conversation. They joked about work and friends and a silly new exercise class they wanted to take together (which obviously was never going to happen by the tones of their voices). Then they started to talk about a friend of one of them visiting from London. My interest perked up. She was living in New York, but from London. The girls then joked about being very touristy in Chicago in order to show their English friend around. But, what really intrigued me, (and to be completely honest) actually pissed me off a little was when they were talking about how she just visited Portugal.
“Portugal sounds so interesting. It would be cool to go there,” says
“Oh yeah. It would definitely be a place I would want to go to,” replies Girl 2.
“We should go there sometime.” Girl 1.
“Sure. Like Right now.” Girl 2.
“Oh yeah lets just get on the Blue Line straight to O’Hare (Airport)” Girl 1
“Ok. Next stop” Girl 2 .
Giggling for too long.
Why is this so annoying to me? I know their type. They are not going to go to Portugal. They’re not. I know they’re not. It is more fascinating to spend vacation money to go to an all-inclusive in Mexico to them. This is a very common American mentality and it just really boils me up. They laughed it off like the idea was completely absurd. It’s not absurd. Save and do it. Just do it. Go to
Portugal. Why does that seem so impossible? Life is just waiting to be lived outside of your hometown. So go. Enough giggling about something because it seems hard. You work and earn money and have the curiosity about a place. So Go! Do it. Enough joking about it.
I guess it really gets to me because people always look at me as if I am “lucky” to have gone to all the places I have been. I am not “lucky.” Please do not call me that. I just save, plan, and do it. Anyone can. I am tired of people of equal or higher wage look at me like I am crazy because I go places all the time. I am not crazy. I am curious. I have Wanderlust. Don’t judge. Just do it.
To travel alone is a battle on it’s own. A fun battle, but a battle all the same. I love that I am able to meet whomever I want and hang out with them whenever. I love that I can sleep when I want, eat when I want, and go wherever I wish to go. It is, however, lonely sometimes.
While in a museum or experiencing something spontaneous and fun I often wish to lean over and talk about it with someone else. A friend, a companion, a relative, whoever. I want to talk about what I am seeing and what I am experiencing. I think it is beneficial to travel through both journey’s.
It was the end of my Round the World trip. The thought of me leaving hung heavy within me. Everything I went to visit on my last day in my beloved London was tainted by the thought of leaving. Shakespeare Globe lost it’s magic, because I knew I would not be around long enough to attend a performance. The Tate museum was beautiful, but once it was closing I knew I would be forced out and not allowed back in until my next visit. I longed to get lost in my favorite city, but I knew living on the streets would not be the most logical decision for myself. I stayed out wandering around all the cobble-stoned streets that I
could, until the sun went down. I stumbled upon St. Paul and literally ran into the steps. The air was growing colder and people were leaving work. I had decided that this was the perfect opportunity to people watch and embrace being in London at that moment. There was a girl with a white hat sitting across the courtyard seeming to do the same thing. Older men with suitcases and hats briskly glided across the courtyard, children skipped around in their uniforms from school, and a crowd of young twenty something’s were out and ready to protest Libya’s war.
I took a deep breath. I could feel tears creeping up. I had to get a hold
of myself! There is nothing quite like visiting another city and just being present in that specific moment. Thinking about where you are, what you are looking at, and that you may not ever come back to this place again. It removes me from routine thinking and what strengthens my soul.