Not everyone feels the same way about ‘traveling.’ For some, ‘traveling’ is about the number of Stamps in the Passport. For others, it is about frequent Check-ins on Facebook and Instagram. Then there are some for whom traveling is about break from work — change from the routine of their lives.
But then there are others who see traveling as much more than mere photos and check-ins. People who see traveling as an enriching experience. And more so, like meeting a person.
Such people, they don’t just visit places, they meet them. They don’t follow a beaten path, they travel to explore its hidden treasures. With each step, they listen to what this place has to say — its history, and its story — and in the process, they become openminded enough to embrace a place’s ability to both amaze us, and teach us.
These people are not afraid to go on a blind date with places. For them, it is like meeting new people. They meet them with open hands and accepting hearts. They are not shy from handing their itinerary in the hands of Providence and letting the nature takes its own course.
It sounds scary at first, but imagine going to a completely new place — a blind date with a place — about which you have no idea. You have no sense of what to come, no idea what to expect. It’s all mystery. You might feel lost at first, but the thrill of discovering it, getting to know its intimate details. It is breathtaking!
There is a sense of wonder in stumbling upon a new place and all kind of adventures that come along with it. The flexibility without a fixed itinerary. The freedom from burdening expectations. The liberty to chart your own path. And finally, the thrill of discovery on an unexpected gem of a place!
I am a list-maker by nature. And this reflects in my traveling habits. Throw a traveling idea and I would be the first one to start researching on my mobile and and start jotting down an itinerary. So imagine the fix I was in when a couple of my friends invited me for a backpacking trip to Spain.
I had no time to prepare. The travel date was the day after that!
Being in the UK for a project, I was already travel ready (Schengen visa was already taken care of.) And I had a relatively free next week, so I had no problem managing a couple of days off on weekdays. But such ingrained was my need to plan that I almost said no. Luckily they managed to change my mind.
And the fact that we didn’t have a plan turned out to be the best thing about the trip.
The moment we landed in the Barcelona airport we got ourselves a map of Spain, and traveling leaflets. As an explorer, we started charting out the possible route to cover its famous places. Famous monuments that we should see. Famous tourists spaces we must not miss. But on a blind date that we were on this trip, not much went as we expected.
In the hostel where we were staying, we befriend two french girls who were a couple. In the explorer travel spirit we were in, the initial awkwardness of being with a homosexual couple faded away quickly. And soon we were sharing stories about each other countries. Cracking jokes, and making plans. They were also on a blind date just like we were, and we decided to explore together!
When we traveled like this, like an explorer, every moment became a discovery. So while we did cover the famous tourists spots of Spain like Sagrada Familia and Park Guell and others places in Madrid, we also stumbled upon most unexpected places, meeting most unexpected of people, doing things we never planned.
Every moment was a surprise.
From Scuba Diving among the golden coast of Costa Brava Beach to walking among the ruins of Girona where Game of Thrones was shot. Then walking along the vintage streets of Valencia that transported us to the eighteenth century. Followed by tour-walks among the arcades of Madrid alive with sopranos and clowns and singers who gathered and perform as evening gathered around us. And then, with a climax that even today gives me goosebumps. Skydiving from twelve hundred feet which I would have never attempted had it been planned.
Had we planned the trip, we would not have met that French couple and started on this wild journey where each day unravelled itself like a plot of an adventurous novel. We joined random groups, clicked photos with strangers, dived deep into the sea, then jumped from twelve thousand feet about in the sky – all these seemingly stupid things we would not have done if we had a fixed schedule.
That’s the beauty of going on a blind date with a place. To leave the charted path and expose yourself to the new experience every moment. To unravel this mystery that a place is. To become enthralled as the world unfolds in front of you in real time, and leaves you in awe, spellbound.
All this becomes true when you are ready to #SayYesToTheWorld, ready to have #TheBlindList and be ready to go on any blind date with the world!