Realizing the need for a bigger host for documenting my adventures beyond Australia, I created wanderingleah.com.
See you there!
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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). 🙂
As Caroline Rose plays in the background “Here Come the Rain,” I smile at the coincidence of the timing. Today is the first real day to hint that autumn is on its way. The forecast says the next few days will be 22C, but today it is 17C (63F) with heavy clouds. There is no sign of it letting up today, either. They will hang heavy on our backs for the remainder of the day.
So this morning when it was a bit chillier, I was out doing errands when I kept passing by angry little Melbourne kids in strollers. Three babies/kids in particular who were ANGRY at the wooly caps on their heads. One tugged at it while crying at his mother. Another, I swear, rolled his eyes. The last one threw it on the ground and yelled at it. I know kids, I know: winter hats; what the eff?? I chose to be a bit stubborn in my sundress and sandals, the occasional chill running down my spine. Not yet, please! One more day! One more week!
I’ve been reviewing the odd show for a local online comedy magazine in conjunction with the Melbourne International Comedy Festival. It is such a huge production, and yet little ol’ Yawp has been able to keep up with shows, churning out reviews like nobody’s business. I’ve been to more…not-so-funny ones than funny ones, and I hate writing short reviews. But, it wasn’t funny; what else am I supposed to say? Better than saying it sucked. I love the attention comedy gets in this city and am happy tag along.
Autumn in Melbourne. I feel the change coming.
Jeg lukker øynene mine. Jeg ser at du drikker en kopp te og mmm den lukter peppermynte. Du har en tykk ullgenser på og de svære tøflene som gjør alle til en lat og kjedelig bjørn om vinteren. Du ser også på Lillyhammer på fjernsyn; men det er jeg som får alltid hjemmelengsel når jeg ser på programmet. Alt det herlige og dårlige med Norge i en genial pakke. Selvironi, som vi alle trenger litt mer av. Et genialt program. Jeg er så glad i Lillyhammer. Men jeg er så utfattelig glad i deg.
Føttene mine er faktisk kalde; det er tross alt februar, man kan jo klage litt da, vel? Burde kanksje ha hatt på meg en genser over kjolen min. En genser liksom. Sokker, hva er de for noe?? I Oslo er det meldt +1C og sikkert har regnet de siste to dagene…det regnet i dag i to minutter og jeg lurte på om jeg skulle la mathandelen være til i morgen. Det gjorde jeg til slutt.
Jeg åpner øynene mine og smiler. Jeg trives skikkelig på skolen og tenker på gårsdagens hendelser. Jeg ler litt i halvsøvne; hvordan klarte jeg TRE år med ren teori ved UiO? Det beste med bacheloren var jo Den Store Bacheloroppgaven. Jeg trivdes så mye at jeg skrev to. Kunne ha vært et tegn, kjære Leah?? Men det går likar nu. Or whatever. 😉
Jeg ser bort mot klokka. Den er bare seks om morgenen, men jeg vet at jeg kommer ikke til å sove noe særlig lenger. Prednisolonen tar så mye ut av kroppen, uten at den gir meg en ordentlig sjanse til å sove bort bekymringene. Det siste jeg vil er å bekymre Mama. Telefonen lyser med meldinger og snapchats. Anette har kjøpt seg en ny pute med en piggsvin på. Ååå jeg har også lyst!
Og med det kryyyyyyper jeg ut av senga og retter min oppmerksomhet mot presskanna. Det er dag Tjueni, og jeg har ennå ikke funnet edderkoppen fra Dag To.
For Mom and Lori’s sake:
I close my eyes. I see that you are drinking a cup of tea and mmm it smells like peppermint. You have a thick wool sweater on and those big slippers that make everyone a lazy and boring bear in winter. You also watch Lillyhammer on television, but it is I who always gets homesick when I watch it. All the lovely things and bad things about Norway in a brilliant package. Self irony; we all need a little more of it. An ingenious program. I love Lillyhammer. But I love you so incredibly much.
My feet are actually cold, after all it is February, surely people can complain a little, right? Should maybe have put a sweater on over my dress. A sweater. Socks, what are those? ? In Oslo it is reported to be 33F and certainly has rained the past two days … it rained today for two minutes and I was wondering if I should let the grocery shopping be until tomorrow. I left it be.
I open my eyes and smile. I really enjoy school and am thinking about yesterday’s events. I laugh a little in my half sleep; how I managed THREE years of pure theory at Uni Oslo?? The best part of the bachelor was writing the thesis. I enjoyed so much that I wrote two. Could have been a sign, dear Leah ?? But I think I’m getting it figured out. Sure 😉
I look over at the clock. It ‘s only six in the morning , but I know I ‘m not going to sleep much longer. Prednisolone takes so much out of the body, without giving me a real chance to sleep away my concerns. The last thing I want is to worry Mama. My phone lights up with messages and snapchats. Anette has bought a new pillow with a hedgehog on it. Ohhhh I want one, too!
And with that I crawl out of bed and drag my attention to the French press. It is Day Twenty Nine and I have not yet found the spider from Day Two.