|Posted on April 17, 2013 at 2:30 AM|
Citybox hotel, Bergen, Norway April 17, 2013 8.52 a.m
It is raining outside, and this is what it usually looks like here. I will brave the rain once again, like I did yesterday afternoon, to see something of the place, though this is actually a small town, notable for its UNESCO World Heritage Site at Bryggen, which is just a colourful collection of old houses built by the port. Norway is civilised and there is internet everywhere, but this is where the freebies end. I have still not bought anything in the country since arriving here yesterday at 1 pm, apart from the bus ticket to get into Bergen from the airport. I am carrying crackers and energy bars bought in Greece, and hope these see me through some of my 6 days to be spent in these northern latitudes.
I can hardly believe it is a year since my last entry in here. This is not laziness on my part, I have you know. So much energy has been spent on launching and monitoring the new website www.thebesttravelled.com that when I don't really have to, my eyes just need the rest. No longer do I watch so many films, simply because I am too exhausted. Launching a website is no easy business, this is for sure. But it has been exciting, I have met and spoke to many new people, despite some setbacks I am very optimistic about the future of the project. You would be amazed how many political problems I have faced because of the site. The Serbs don't like it because Kosovo is split. The Palestinians don't recognise Israel. The Cypriots are angry because of Northern Cyprus having a separate flag. Then there is the issue of Greece's Northern neighbour, much detested by the Greeks FYROM. How do you name that? I give up. You can't please everyone, that much is so true. If you read this and are not a member of thebesttravelled.com (I sincerely doubt anybody will read this...), please register. We have tried so hard, and we does not only involve me.
A lot has changed in a year. Last year I was faced with death for the very first time, and it really sucks. Ok, so grandpa died when I was 14 and a few people I knew casually also said their goodbyes but it didn't hit me until it was a really good friend, and one that somehow I hadn't spent all the time I would have wanted to. My dear friend from Maracaibo in Venezuela passed away under mysterious circumstances that I still don't quite understand. But, whatever the case, this had me in shock and disbelief. Though, true, it did little to quench my travel lust. In fact travel helped me, once again, overcome this and continue, though for the first time in history I actually cancelled a trip to come home from Seville once I found out what had happened. I was in too much shock to sincerely be able to continue travelling for the next few weeks. I am indebted to some friends, and when this happened I really realised who these friends are, and who is incapable of showing compassion or adequate emotion. Needless to say, lots of my acquaintances have changed too since a year ago. It is funny how much one's circles may change, though still, at a gathering for the Eurovision Song Contest which is coming up, I expect people I have known for more than 20 years.
I have travelled very far and wide since 52 weeks ago. Almost finished all the administrative divisions of Russia, taking in Dagestan and Altai Republic, among others. Also went to Japan again, a lovely country whose food I truly miss - a place worth going to just for those scrumptious noodles. Since returning from Japan last June, I haven't had a truly long-haul flight, keeping myself in a radius around Europe, but I did go to Pakistan, Iraq and Iran (nothing European about these). Iran was amazing in every way. The people there truly prove themselves the friendliest I can possibly imagine. Pakistan was a disaster zone more than Iraq, a place rapidly crumbling I am afraid to say. Such a shame because, again, the people are truly hospitable there. Then, there was an out of the blue trip to Herat in Afghanistan, and to Ethiopia, which gave me my dose of real Africa for the next year or so.
There is little doubt my travels will continue, though the exact destinations are vague, the financial crisis has hit, and, being the founder of a website which aspires to greatness, all mean I may be staying put more than I would want. I think one or two major trips are still coming this year, but nothing too ambitious for the moment. My parents are also getting older, and this implies I better spend as much time with them as possible now that I can.
Life continues, the joys and the pains keep coming and going, life is a road, of that there is no doubt. I still find it hard to believe how many people there are who are sedentary and go nowhere. And yet, though couchsurfing, you are bound to meet some others whose nomadic spirit makes you realise - you are not alone.