17 September 2006

Because He Can
A Pleasant Travel Tale in which Nothing Much Happens

This is an informal account of a trip I took in the latter half of April and the first few days of May, 2006; it was written for the amusement and vicarious enjoyment of family and friends who’d wanted to hear “all about it.” It’s also written for myself, as a way of sustaining the trip’s experiences (and further exploring the ones I had there), and for the topical entertainment of casual readers who encounter these pages via web searches for things I happen to mention here.

Because this tale is longer than the other one I’ve written up for this website, clocking in at just upwards of 30,000 words and divided into 15-and-a-half chapters, I’ve provided a full-scope navigation bar at the bottom of each page…but I recommend simply reading the story from beginning to end, as the episodes and experiences do contribute to developments (however subtly). Illustrations here are minimal because I travel without a camera, relying on my own notes and memories to help me describe places and events later for the benefit of those not present, and I’ve provided links to relevant web pages in hopes that the reader will learn a little more about elements of interest to them.

Even while I was travelling, this trip often felt a bit removed from the immediacy of reality. It had no earth-shaking, eye-opening moments of astonishing magic (well, maybe one very succinct one that required not so much reaction as simply surprised acknowledgement), so in a sense it was almost a disappointment, and yet I really did wander around as freely as I enjoy doing, visiting places I’d never even considered visiting and having on the whole a very nice time.

The lingering vague dissatisfaction with this trip is probably about its minimal impact, and I think that’s a question of the trip’s length being “too short” (just long enough to seem like a break but not long enough to really even strain my fetters) and “too safe” (as I stayed within more-or-less-familiar territory with only one serious linguistic challenge faced, and only briefly at that). In 2003 I’d flung myself on a 2.5-week bewildered wandering vacation to shake my job’s death-grip on my psyche; the success of that effort has been sustained, so this trip and briefer ones to Canadian and American destinations have had less of a vital raison d’être. Nonetheless, travel is travel and I do love it regardless of the reason.

Not really having a specific justification for this trip, other than its impetus (“you’ve maxxed out on accumulated Vacation hours again,” I was told, “take some time off!”), I also had no expectations. Well, I did, but those got annihilated before the trip even began.

Speaking of which, I should address something right away: much as I would love to pop right ahead to the start of my travels in Europe on this trip, a sense of almost masochistic honesty compels me to make a few preliminary observations that I’m not exactly proud of but which do contribute to an understanding (mine, and maybe yours to a degree) of the trip that followed, for better or for worse.



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