Mallorca to Nice, France, and everything inbetween

Trip Start Aug 20, 2005
Trip End May 06, 2006

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Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Mallorca to Nice:

Its been 2 weeks now since I left Mallorca where beaches and sunshine were plentiful. Arriving in France,its seems I have climbed a peek in the backpacking learning curve. I think I get it more than I ever have before. What's to get... well, it's one of those-you have to be there situations,hard to put in words, but I'm trying.

Before I left, my ears would always perk up when world travelers around me would slip into the backpacking conversation mode. They all seem to know something I didn't. Rather than being jealous, which can come very naturally, I would try to soak up as much as I could, because I knew it would be my turn soon. These travellers all had a common body of knowledge in which they could chat about for hours. I couldn't understand how one could go off for so long reminiscing their backpacking days; could it be that fantastic? Now I know, or else, I think I know more.

Into the third month now and have a good handle on the physical traveling bits... the art of re-packing ones bag, arriving on-time for the train, reminiscing the good times I just had with my 48 hour friends and repeating the process upon arriving at a new hostel ready to do it all over again.
You become more in tune to your instincts when meeting people, at least that has been my experience, so far so good. The people you do create relationships with, become a condensed version of the stages in a relationship you would find at home. Emotional highs and lows are all always in the air. First hellos and final good byes are exchanged just as fast as the days go seem to fly by.

The typical travel conversations never seems to fail; where, what, who, when, how and why? All these questions are answered in sometimes short or long conversations between two complete strangers. The typical traveling chat is inevitable. It gets old sometimes and all so similar; some are inspirational and some mundane. Could be the people who are travelling the longest come up with the most unique questions to ask as a result of receiving the same answers time and again. Don't get me wrong, its always interesting to know what people are up to, but, as I'm reaching my third month of travel babel, I seem to be straying from the chat.

Its all about the small things...

Backpacking reduces you down to your most essential parts: body, mind and as much as you can possible carry on your back.

Then, from there, it's all what you make of it. You are officially in charge of every little thing the days bring. Expect the random obstacles that are out of your control, i e stolen items or late trains. Little overwhelming at first, but you learn to realize your freedom quite fast, and love every minute of it.

Meeting many personalities and seeing how they live, cope and react to a plethora of obstacles along their tracks. That's one of the parts that interests me, human psychology, which tends to make me reflect on my attitude and mission.

My mission? Do all backpackers need one?... probably not...I didn't know what my mission was before I left and now it seems so clear. My mission was to not have one. To just be, for a while and on the side, expand my visual dictionary. I have accomplished just that for 90 days and am in need for a new one. The last one was a challenge for me and now looking for my second.

Before Europe> BE

Before I left Vancouver, I had a many emotions brewing but, mostly fear of leaving the life I had. Which is one of the common threads us backpackers weave. Every backpacker has a different set of priorities and reasons for leaving. Why they leave, what do they want to accomplish? Sometimes nothing, sometimes the always begging question of finding ones self. I have an inkling that question could be only a cover up to delay the inevitable growing up, getting a job and settling down. I hope with my travels I can find something a little different. Which is not a bad reason to leave, either way travelling is good for everyone. Each generation has its reaction to that common question of finding ourselves or finding that question that lingers inside. Maybe reaction: travelling? Guess we'll see where this reaction leads us as a generation.

In hindsight, my fears of leaving Vancouver all seem so minute now. Leaving is the hardest part, and possibly traveling becoming intoxicating and only leaving you wanting more. Being gone for just three months, I have the same anxious feelings about returning to my old familiar, Vancouver, which has now turned into my unknown.

I feel different but, couldn't have changed that much. Just a love/hate feeling about being away from the people and places you've know your whole life. I'm sure I will adapt like I have out here when I go home but, facing reality could be a chore or a blessing.. to be continued, I guess.

My Backpack is growing on me:

I'm becoming accustomed to picking up and moving towns, cities and countries every week or so, vancouver-London, Lisbon-Madrid, Barcelona-Rome, Mallorca-Bordeaux, Carcassonn-Sete, Nice-> ?.

Having a stable sleeping ground at Craig's apt made me little anxious. It had the opposite affect to what I had suspected. It was more the reminder of the constants of home. No change in place or changing external stimulus left me needing a project or something to occupy my mind. This was my original assumption before I took the trip.
A mission: to be.
I was dearly afraid of not doing something productive. I told myself that was ridiculous and that I had been productive for the last 24 years and this was the time, to just be.

Well, I still agree that just being is good for a period of time. I think I may miss creating things, which for me is visual. I thought it was a negative thing before but not anymore, it keeps me sane.

Reverting back to the bare essentials for design and art has been an interesting challenge. No help from my friend technology, which for the last 4 years I have been hand in hand with. It has been a great thing for me so far. But I could really go for a new power book right about now. Sad I know, but someone must understand. Its like reverting back to the olden days, pre-computer years only with the luxury of email and msn.

So enough internal dialogue.

My travels since Mallorca have been this:

Long train ride to Bordeaux.
Arrived at night and managed to leave my new paints in their great wooden box containing my painting and photos at the train station. Ran back in a panic after a nice Russian guy showed me to my hostel. After finding them exactly where I left them, I told myself I would never do such a stupid thing like that again and thanked whoever was up there for watching out for me.

Met an Aussie, Eloise and an Irish girl from Ireland. The second night after not fully enjoying the hostel, we ventured the town and rented a cheap and cheerful incredibly french hotel room, managed to fit three of us on one cramped double bed. We hosted a night of drinking at our new pad with the other backpackers left at the hostel.

Left the next day to a small medieval town called Carcasonne a few hours away by train. Great village within the walls of a castle, very impressive at night. The all day bike ride the next day consisted of getting terrible lost thinking we were following the right river and ending up in a small town called Trebes.

Of course we had a great time getting lost and enjoyed our cheap red wine and picnic with a view of the harvested grape vineyards. We were fast travelers and only spent two nights there. Next, we dragged our stiff muscles to Sete and repeated the pattern of hosteling first night and hotelling the second. Enjoyed an evening on the river sitting in a cute old boat drinking wine. We said our good byes the next afternoon and the girls headed off to Barcelona with loose plans of meeting up in Scotland for New years. Nothing in set in stone for the holidays yet.

To Nice.

Ended up with an Noth American/Aussie gang taking day trips. We managed to see Monaco, Eze (a small castle village on the top of a cliff looking over the Mediterranean,) I could try to romance it more but, it was soaking wet and dreary with a lot of potential in the summer months. In Monaco, we all had to check out the ritzy casinos. We stuck out like soar thumbs as we were surrounded by older richies, we gambled our few sheckles we had in our grubby pockets, with one Aussie winning 15 Euro.

Next day to Antibes and of course the city of Cannes where they hold the famous film festival. Again, had amazing potential on a nicer day, checked it off our list and headed back to Nice. Will put it on my other list of towns to return to when I'm older and wealthier?!

Another goodbye. Now me, myself and I are trying to figure out the next leg of the journey. Yes, i will have a good time no matter where I will be but, feel the need go somewhere very different. I won't say where yet, because my head is thinking all over the map, so i will put it in pixels when I know for sure.

That me, in Nice.

Love to all,
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katemcnair on

Re: my favorite entry so far

Your so very sweet. Thanks.
I will miss everybody back at home even more, during the holidays. Sip a spiked eggnog by the fireplace for me!

xoxo Kate

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