Leah On Foot

Wanderlust

Month: February, 2017

Gibraltar

We were planning our last day in Southern Spain. What did we want to do? Where did we want to go? Gibraltar had been loosely discussed, but as the end of our trip neared, our excitement and determination for it stepped up a notch. On our last day of holiday, we rented a car and were off on a road trip to Gibraltar!

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The monkeys of Gibraltar

The vehicle of choice was an adorable little Fiat, about as big as my thumbnail. Sondre took the wheel, and we were off! We fell in love with the journey and wanted to stop everywhere and see everything along the way, but our eagerness to get to Gibraltar soon took the upper hand.

We parked the car and walked over the border, showing our passports twice–once to Spanish border control, and again to the British side. One minute later, we were suddenly hearing British accents and using British pounds to pay for things. We were stunned. What a fascinating piece of history, and a sore subject for the Spanish government, who wants rule over the 6 square kilometers that was a gift to the UK in the 18th century.

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Gibraltar, its airport, and in the background: the Spanish city La Linea

Realizing what little time we had allotted ourselves for the trip, we hastily chose to take a guided tour of the island, which I definitely recommend for those just going for the day. We hopped on a bus and got to see a cave, monkeys, military tunnels, and Europa Point– where we could see Morocco just 14 kilometers across the strait.

We were enthralled by this new and strange world at the tip of mainland Europe and the centerpiece for controversy and debate throughout modern history. Gibraltar is a place that only takes a day to see, but sticks to memory for years to come.

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Walking across the runway

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Tromsø and Her Northern Charm

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Ishavskatedralen during a storm

Den lyste fra snømørket. Den strålte varmen fra innsiden. Slik var Tromsø for meg. For en by, for et folk, for en festival, for en ferie.

It lit up, up from the darkness of the snow. It radiated warmth from the inside. That is what Tromsø was for me.

Tromsø was for me a city of warm hearts, one where I felt welcome to and comfortable in. From having a chat with the cafe owner to catching up on the local fishing gossip with the marine scientist, I talked to more strangers in a few days that I may have done my entire time in Oslo. It makes, sense, though: with dark and stormy weather, they don’t necessarily have much of a choice, do they?

I was in town for the film festival, one that Sondre certainly wanted to join me in but couldn’t get holiday for. We had been to BIFF in Bergen and it lit something in me. Never a real fan of Hollywood, I’ve always been attracted to independent movies, documentaries, and international films. So of course, being a part of a festival where we saw such films all weekend only fueled this craving. At TIFF, I was shocked, I cried, I laughed, and I learned so much! It also eased the slight disappointment of the Northern Lights never peeking out through the snowstorm.

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Q&A with the director of Young Wrestlers, Mete Gümürhan

A few of the movies I was so lucky to see alongside Tove, my former boss and forever mentor from Skogfjorden. It was slightly bizarre to see her outside of the Norwegian village, the only place I had seen her since I was seven. It had been at least six, maybe years since I had seen her last, so at first, I didn’t really know where to start, but I was happy to have been able to share a sushi platter and ideas with her while in town.

Although Tromsø draws tourists for her Northern Lights, whale watching, and midnight sun, she keeps them enchanted with everything else about her. The city is just big enough to provide, yet just small enough to get to know. As I left, I wanted to give Tromsø a giant hug! It was fantastic getting to know this brave, fun, charming Paris of the North.

 

 

On Traveling…Less Often

No, really, I’m traveling less!

Not that I expected you to notice. I still admit I travel perhaaaaps more than normal

In fact in 2013, I made it a conscious goal to travel to one new place I had never been, every month. I couldn’t get enough, so I moved to Australia for all of 2014, and still didn’t see as much of the country as I wanted to. I traveled for travel’s sake. I traveled to come out of my comfort zone, to feel energized, to learn about others. My feet never touched the ground! So what changed?

When I moved back to Oslo in 2015, it was time to figure out: when I’m not traveling, what does my life look like? Who is Leah and what does she like to do?

Turns out, she works a lot, and runs a lot. (That farm girl work ethic doesn’t die easy). In 2015 and 2016, I took hardly any vacation, but was too busy to notice. Stay.com was growing, and I worked overtime most months, balancing Stay with consultancy work (mostly for SolRX sunscreen). It was a welcome distraction, and on the days I felt restless, I ran. (I ran a lot). At the same time, I slowly, slowly began to embrace DIY projects, music festivals, committee meetings, and yoga studio memberships.

At the same time I was traveling less, I was ironically enough feeling more grounded. Or did I travel less because I felt more grounded? Either way, I could no longer internally justify 36 hours in Riga or going to Stockholm for a concert. So in 2017, I have made a semi-conscious decision to travel with purpose. No more traveling for travel’s sake. (Seriously!) (No, seriously!).

Unlike 2015 and 2016, I will actually take holiday, meaning unplugging completely: going to a city Stay.com doesn’t have, without my laptop, and with few plans. My first experiment with this was a trip to Tromsø in January, and oh my gosh you guys, it was awesome.

Since 2013, I have halved the number of trips I take yearly, while at the same time prolonging the actual trip itself. Sounds pretty basic, no? I feel like I have reached a balance that works for my instinct to travel and staying in one place that works for me right here, right now. The stress to make plans ahead of a trip and the feeling of having to rush through a city vanished. That in itself was worth it. After years of wishing I had one more day, or scheming when I could go back, I am eagerly and happily coming home.

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Pausing for a moment in Milan, January 2017

Certainly, 2017 is scaring me. This is not, I would argue, a Leah that I have ever known before. I still travel with vigor and enthusiasm. The purpose of traveling for me in 2017 therefore is: How can I grow from it? How can I make sure I leave minimal trace of my visit? Will it make someone else happy? So far for 2017, this has translated into meaning that my trips are planned around people I love. A 30th birthday. A reunion. Another birthday. If I can’t go for more than four days, there is little motivation for me to book these days. It’s an awkward and weird feeling. That may not be my 2018, or even any year ever again, but this is my 2017, and I’m excited to challenge myself in this new way.

The instinct to travel and to travel spontaneously is still very much alive. It’s always been in my blood, and still is. When I travel, I shake myself of restlessness and creative blocks. I am reminded that we are all in this world together, and we have got to learn to get along! I come back home feeling productive, compassionate, conscious, and thriving. My cravings for spontaneity may take over. They may be fueled by a coercive friend or a life change.

On Friday, Sondre and I are off to Seville for a week. On real holiday. So, as you can by now predict, this means you won’t be hearing from me here (although, I certainly considered combining it with work and leaving a few days earlier). 🙂