I have a lousy personality. Absolutely lousy. I need constant change with a sprinkle of
stability in between. I’ve been like this for years, if not my whole life.
You’d think the kind of trip I’m on would be perfect for said lousy personality. It is. Except that I woke up this morning thinking, “I’m so tired of the same routine EVERY SINGLE DAY!” I heard myself think that and immediately realized what an utterly ridiculous thing it was to think. Every single day I get to see new places and visit new towns. Yet there is a real element of routine in my trip. I wake up, get dressed, get all my stuff packed, eat breakfast, run off as early as humanly possible, cycle, cycle, cycle, arrive, look for a hotel or a camp, shower, find food, relax or walk around town, write my daily travelblog, eat more food, and settle down to sleep. That’s what every single day is like. Exactly. Without fault.
I suppose it’s a good thing I’m starting to feel this way. It might mean I’ll eventually be looking forward to going home. I caught myself briefly wishing one night that I was sitting in bed watching TV at home with my husband rather than being on my own in a hotel somewhere.
It also means I’m getting over my initial anxieties. You know how when you start a new job, the first month or so is full of angst, trying to figure out the ropes, settling in, and figuring out how to deal with problems? And then you get used to it all and settle in? And then, sometimes, you start feeling bored of the same routine? It’s sort of like that with me on this trip. I used to get severe anxiety every morning, worrying about the roads, what they would be like, how the weather would be, whether I had the strength to cycle the full distance, what I would do if a problem arose, what would happen if I got lost… I’ve now been through all that and have a pretty good idea what to expect. I’ve made some mistakes, learned from them, I’ve started to become confident in my abilities, I did some things right and now know to keep doing them… It’s pretty good now.
That ridiculous thought about routine and boredom lasted only about half an hour. As
soon as I was cycling it was gone. I’ve been feeling better today than previous days. The past two days I’ve had shorter 70km cycles and I’ve been making a point of eating and resting extra well. It’s really made a difference.
Something I’ve known about myself is that I prefer traveling alone or in very small, select groups. And I prefer organizing my own trips and handling my own issues. Even when I join an organized group trip with a travel agency, like when I go mountain climbing/trekking, I end up with a random group of strangers from different countries. I love traveling with my husband. Despite all the constant whining, I love traveling with my kids. I absolutely full-heartedly love traveling with my best friend Arwa even though we manage to get on each other’s nerves sometimes. I’ve enjoyed going on a few business trips with very close colleagues/girlfriends, but that is pretty much the limit of it. I need my space when I travel. I need people around me who understand that when I travel. I need to be in control as well. I need to understand what is happening around me so that I can deal with things if they come up. I don’t easily trust other people to deal with things for me or even to organize things well for me. I also need to feel the satisfaction of doing things for myself and of learning the process on my own. That’s why I get upset when people start telling me what I should and shouldn’t do on this sort of trip. I want to do my thing, my way. I love hearing about other people’s experiences. I love taking bits and pieces from those and making it my own. That’s why I mainly write in the first person. I realize it can sound so me me me me me. But what I’m doing is writing about my experience. Maybe people will find something in it that they can make their own. Or maybe they’ll just find it entertaining. Either way, I’m happy.
Today is my last day in Italy. I’m in Gorizia, in the east of Italy, only 4km away from
the Slovenian border. I’ve been cycling parallel to the Alps for days. But now it’s time for me to start going over them. I’m hoping I chose an easy spot to do that. If I haven’t, DON’T tell me. Don’t tell me if I have, either. It’s always good for me to have a little anxiety about things like this. It gets the adrenaline pumping. And if it turns out easier than I expected, I get to be pleasantly surprised. If it turns out to be difficult, I’ll just have to put my head down, get the bike in a good gear, and pedal for as long as it takes.
Italy has been great but I’m ready for the excitement of a new country. I know virtually nothing about Slovenia. That’s one of the reasons I chose to cycle through it. I can’t wait.
Italians have kept me safe while I’ve been here. More importantly, they have made me aware that I’m safe. That has lifted a huge burden of anxiety from my shoulders.
I will say, though, that I’ve had one major disappointment. How many movies have we seen where the solo female tourist gets picked up by the dashingly handsome Italian man? Huh? Not ONCE did that happen to me. I haven’t been giving off any “pick me up” signals, of course. Actually, when I’m alone, I always exude a “Come near me and you’re bound to get killed” signal (I am THAT confident in my imaginary Kung Fu skills). Still. I’m really disappointed in my stereotypical, Hollywood-engrained understanding of Italian men. Really disappointed.
Italians: thank you for being so warm, kind, civilized, caring, protective, and to the men, gentlemanly. I will be back, inshallah (God willing).