I’m eating a Twix bar in my bunk bed in Copenhagen (a top bunk, of course); Twix seems to be my comfort food when I’m in foreign places. I only have a little less than a day in Copenhagen, and by the time I arrived this afternoon, the sun was setting. So I figured out how to get from the airport to the train station to the hostel, stashed my bags on my bed and locked up my valuables, and then set off to see the city while there was still a bit of daylight.
But for all of my planning (though really there wasn’t much), I couldn’t for the life of me figure out where to go. My flight had been delayed for an hour in Bologna, so I no longer had time to walk to the art museum I’d wanted to check out. I headed in that direction anyway- what I thought was that direction- only to realize that I couldn’t figure out where I was on my map.
I ended up in a different art museum, 40 minutes before they closed, and didn’t have to pay because entry is free on Sundays. I walked through quickly but paused for a long time in front of a Van Gogh painting, one that he did in the last year of his life while he was in St Remy.
It’s been incredible to think about the last year of my life. In August, after I finished the Camino, I went to St Remy, a small town in Provence, France. I walked the streets that Van Gogh walked, I took in the same views, I looked out the window of his room. And now, today, I’m in Copenhagen, of all places. I found myself in a small art museum that I didn’t know existed, staring at a scene that Van Gogh painted years ago and one that I saw, myself, just months ago.
It makes the world feel a bit smaller. In the grand scheme of things, I haven’t traveled that much. Not when I think about the entire world and of all the places I’ve never been to, and may never get to.
But these recent experiences in Europe? They’ve taught me that the world doesn’t have to feel quite so large and so unknown. There are corners that I can discover, moments that I can experience that feel like they should be impossible… but aren’t.
And these thoughts are stemming not just from the Van Gogh painting, but from being in Italy. I’ll write more about the trip in the days to come, and talk about some of the beautiful things I saw, the amazing things I ate. But really, I think what might stand out about this trip is that it didn’t feel so foreign, or strange. Traveling is still a very big experience for me, and I think it always will be. But the more I travel, and the more I expand on the types of experiences I have, the more that this all feels possible, like it can be an active part of my life. Not just a big trip that I take once every 5 or 10 years.
Is this post making sense? I’m tired and confused about where I am. I know I’m in Copenhagen, I know I’m going home tomorrow, I know that it’s now 2015, but it all feels jumbled and crazy and wonderful and strange. But I think that’s what traveling does. It takes us to a time when we’re blogging from a top bunk, wiping bits of carmel from the Twix bar off of the sheets, listening to guys speaking whispered French from somewhere in the room.
Tomorrow, things go back to normal. But it’s a new year, and I’d like to have more experiences like this: like Italy, where (at least some of the time), I felt like I was settled and home. And Copenhagen, which feels random and exciting. And, for that matter, like Spain, where I could learn how to feel comfortable in a foreign place, on my own.
I’m not sure what 2015 is going to hold for me. Not sure at all: I have no plans, only ideas. And that’s sort of an exciting place to be in.
Kendra S says
Twix! That stuff was my comfort food when I was in France for 6 months a few yrs back.Yay for Twix 🙂 Looking forward to seeing what you decide for 2015!
Twix has some sort of special power that I can’t figure out… especially when eaten abroad. 🙂
Kendra S says
Happy new year! Here’s to a beautiful Twix-filled 2015. 🙂
Thank you, Happy New Year to you, as well!!
Nathan Mizrachi says
Comparing your mindset now to what it was while you were back home in your post-Camino sulk (maybe too strong a word) you sound much happier and settled with life.
Traveling suits you; dare I say a “complicated” Italian man probably has something to do with your current state of mind.
And of course, we must give Vincent credit where he is due–a similar painting, Wheatfield with Cypresses has always had a cheering affect on me. But unlike you, I have never had the fortune to visit San Remy or Arles and see where he painted!
I think I’m more settled with the unknowns… but this recent trip definitely helped give me back a spark. 🙂
I took a look at the Van Gogh painting you referenced, and it gave me chills. What is it about his art that gets me every time??
Nathan Mizrachi says
It is hard to find the words to describe the affect Van Gogh has on the viewer–there is a verve to his paintings which is unprecedented, I think.
Mary Knox says
Travel certainly expands your life an fills it with great possibilities. it will be great to hear more of your journey . I am doing the Camino from the Portuguese border in April and looking forward to what it brings. I would love to one day do the walk from France as well.
Good luck with your Camino preparations, and if you ever have any questions, I would love to help! (if I can).
Thank you for reading and for your kind words! 🙂