A room with a view

I always like to experience things. That is especially connected with going to different places, meeting different people and connect to different cultures. Therefore travelling marks an important part of my life. I probably have to differentiate my definition of travelling: Travelling is different from vacation. A vacation means for me to travel to some place and put relaxation in the foreground. Spending time on the pool, sleep long, read books which I always wanted to read but never had the time to (yes I am a book nerd, but sometimes, I am meeting characters in books which are -- how to say, a little bit difficicult and require more time and attention than usual- a vacation is perfect for this) and hanging around the cocktail bar. The hotel should be nice, and the service conveniant. travelling for experience is therefore completely different as going on a vacation as it simply serves the experiencing-purpose. Yes, there is (mostly) a hotel involved. But it does not need to have a Spa or some all-inclusive trallalashallala but a cosy little room with a view and a place where some croissants and coffee is provided in the morning. The relaxation here comes from experience. And experience supplies inspiration. Inspiration releases energy and this leads to relaxation and happiness. That is at least how it works with me.
for example to find out, and experience how it feels to be part of a particular place I mostly go to a news stand close to an Underground station and buy a local newspaper. With the newspaper in my arms or in one of my large shopper-handbags I am walking off the big main streets, mostly some 20 mins into the streets of "real life" to find a sweet little, sometimes rather dodgy cafe, where I see just ordinary people sitting and sipping their teas and coffees, reading, iPadding, or busy with their mobile phones, preparing for an ordinary working day. That is the place I go in and communicate with some stranger-waitress / shop-owner for the first time, and experience the local accent for the first time. After having a look around I mostly could see what people are having (Triple chocolate muffins, cappuccinos, double espressos, English breakfast teas or CHAI Lattes (the latter I skip, as I am not the biggest fan of cinnamon) and order the same to experience what people are having in the mornings in this place. And- not to forget the local newspaper. I so love the moment when hot drink and newspaper lying on the small table ready to be experienced. I just love to have a look at what people are busy here - it kind of gives me an idea of the cities' vibe. A little bit more difficult it is with languages I do not speak at all. With native German, and humble Dutch, English, French and Spanish I at least can manage to get around in a lot of parts of the world (What am I going to do in Asia, or in the Arabic countries? Or Russia... Also very big part of the world though). Anyways, I am still sitting in this cute coffee place and after diving into the city's news and main topics I sit back and look randomly at passing people - what is their mimics, do they look happy, do they look stressed? I find that super interesting. Iam finishing my drink, and pay and step out of the coffee shop, looking left and right to see where I should go for my longing for experiences.
to continue the experience -where can I go next?
What I almost everytime do to experience is to go for a walk in a park, visit a public library (did I already mention that I love libraries?), the "dogdy end", or travel in the Underground in the rush hour. To go and visit major sights is of course also part of the program. But too be honest I seldomly have a different feeling than looking at it on a picture in a magazine or seing it in a documentary. but there is one opportunity to boost this experience and discover a places' pure beauty: That is the rather uncomfortable action of getting up early, jump in the trainers, grab the camera and take an early morning walk to capture the sunrise. It is a moment of you and the city alone. Amazing experience. No hords of tourists, fighting for the best place of snapping a picture from a major sight, blocking all entrances of the undergrounds, or standing in one's way. Being up at 4 o'clock in the morning, and the only people to meet are the last party animals on their way to the night bus or a very early jogger. It leaves the city some sort of untouched and innocent. The huge buildings can now expose their true expression, parks leave us in a moment of magic allowing the imagination of itself in long past times and a castle unveils the true demonstration of power and wealth. Wonderful experience.

an experience wishlist for 2012
I have already made. The first place to go is a place in Northern Italy were we have to travel for work. OK, 90 % of the time we will be busy with the project, but I have planned in a small extra day to quasi leverage THE opportunity to see Venice. Already scheduled for March: Visiting Paris. Not really scheduled, but really really wanted is to celebrate New Years Eve in New York. I would find it utterly cool to walk through the streets of the City and experience it - with a soundtrack sung by Frank Sinatra, wearing an elegant evening robe, and having reserved a place in a far-too-expensive but very hip bar, to drink incredibly expensive champaigne out of also very expensive glasses while listening to lounge music and being on top of a skyscraper.... OK. Maybe not. Maybe it is more likely to celebrate it in New York but in a rather dodgy b&b, and due to not knowing the area having bought extremely expensive but sweet & disgusting tasting sparkling wine from a 24hrs corner shop together with some plastic cups and cheering at midnight in an even more dodgy backyard.
But still- I would wear my evening dress and have Frank Sinatra's songs in my head. And either way- it would be a perfect experience!

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