Couchsurfing restores my faith in humanity. Let’s just start with that. For those of you who haven’t heard of it, Couchsurfing is an online community of like-minded folks willing to offer a couch or mattress or floor to a fellow traveler. It’s a sharing thing. There’s an elaborate reference and identity verification system for each person’s profile, so with some common sense and courtesy, it offers world travelers (such as myself) an inexpensive way to see places and a much friendlier experience of foreign parts.
Europe is marvelous. Yesterday, we hopped on a train from Copenhagen, took a bridge across the Øresund Strait, and arrived in Malmo, Sweden. Intellectually, I know this is not all that different from driving between Nevada and California, but taking a morning jaunt to another country just has more panache, even if the city itself didn’t.
I’ve started to feel about cultural/historical museum exhibits the same way I now feel about zoos: uneasy. I mean, yeah, in some ways it’s really cool that kids in San Diego (or in Budapest) get to see a real, live zebra or giraffe or Bengal tiger. But fundamentally, those animals don’t belong there. Similarly, much as I’ve been fascinated by Egyptian artifacts since my early teens (largely as a result of avidly reading my way through the Amelia Peabody series – so good!), I’m not sure all those pieces of ancient Egyptian history really belong in Hungary.
I hadn’t realized I was going through endorphin withdrawal, but in hindsight it makes sense. I’ve been running four days a week for the past… six, eight, ten (?) months. Although I’ve been walking miles and miles (and miles) every day, my body needed more vigorous activity. So I finally started to feel like myself again on a glorious five mile run around Copenhagen last night – cause, ya know, it doesn’t get dark here until after 10:00.
In Budapest yesterday, I caught myself suffering from the paralysis of choice. I was sitting on a bench outside the National Library, staring at my guidebook, totally stuck as to what to do. There are so many amazing things to do and see in this city, and two days is woefully insufficient.
Part of the point behind writing this blog is to keep a sort of “real time” account of what happens – since it all starts to go a bit fuzzy the further in time I get away from it. I like the idea of recording what’s going on and how I’m feeling now rather than trying to recreate the experience from memory. But part of keeping that narrative means being honest about how traveling abroad for more than two weeks isn’t always sunshine and roses and unicorn-related street art. Sometimes it’s just kind of exhausting. Continue reading
Cities each have their own unique feel. An energy pulses through the streets that you get a sense of, whether or not you’re actually paying attention. Maybe I didn’t get far enough away from the touristy parts of Prague, or maybe I was so focused on adjusting to jetlag and culture shock and my looming race that I wasn’t really paying enough attention. But now that I’m leaving Berlin behind, I realize how cold Prague was by comparison.