Wednesday, March 17, 2010

First Stop...

It's inevitable that many of the conversations that I'm having lately revolve around my impending trip and my plans for it. Possibly the most common question is: " so where are you off to first?" To which I have to give the thoroughly underwhelming answer of "Belgium". This often leaves people perplexed, as grand, multi-year odysseys are supposed to be to far-flung, exotic destinations like Patagonia, India or Kenya. However, despite not being particularly dogmatic about how I travel there is one thing I am adamant about: I will do my utmost to avoid flying. It's not that I'm afraid of flying, but I dislike the idea of being airlifted somewhere without experiencing what lies in between, as that way you don't see how the land gradually changes, or the customs subtly alter, or people's faces vary. It leads to a disconnect because it's harder to appreciate and understand a place - its history, its traditions, its customs - if you can't put it in context.

Anyway, I have decided to forsake flying for as long as possible (I have the time) and so will be zig-zagging my way east overland, trying to take in as many new sights and sounds and tastes as I can along the, which means that my first stop will be Belgium. Funnily enough, despite its proximity, and the fact that I've driven through the country on countless occasions, I've never actually taken the time to stop in Belgium (except perhaps to go to the toilet at some motorway service station). And that's a shame, because Belgium is a fascinating country in its own right: a modern creation that is split down the middle along ethno-linguistic political lines, home to some fantastic food and beer, the cradle of European comic culture, and home to the de facto capital of Europe. Not bad for such a small place.

So, the countdown has begun and I might have the think about packing at some point soon...

1 comment:

יניב מזור said...

I share your thoughts and feelings about air travel.

I think Paul Theroux writes about this really well in one of his train travelogues, either "the great train bazaar" or "The old patagonian express".

If only I could leave this darn middle eastern country without a flight (egypt and jordan dont count, thats as far as I can go)