As the snow falls again in Helena today, I’m finding myself more excited about my spring break trip, one that will involve three nights in Munich, six on Malta, and about 23 hours in Reykjavik. While I have been to Reykjavik more times than most people deserve to and have a pretty good sense of how I’ll spend my time there (hello, Sandholt, Harpa, and Bæjarins beztu pylsur!), I know very little about how I’ll spend my time in Munich and even less about Malta.
And that is really one of the things I love most about travel: while I am likely to plan a few activities for my trips, there’s nothing better for me than having the opportunity to wander around a new location and uncover whatever my wandering leads me towards. I’ve mentioned before that I try to avoid looking at pictures of places before I visit because I want to have the full experience of seeing something for the first time with fresh eyes, and I try to avoid planning too much of the experience to make sure that, in my own limited way, I am carving my own path while I visit a new place.
At home, it’s easy to find yourself on the same paths all the time–the same route to work, the same coffee shops to get some work done, and even the same path through the grocery store to find something for dinner. Traveling in a new place offers me the opportunity to truly wander and let my steps be guided by a beautiful sight, an intriguing smell, or unexpected sound.
So, while I’ll certainly embrace some of the same experiences I follow in every city–walking tours of the center and following the recommendations of my host for dinner– most of the experience is about losing myself, my calendar, and my plans for a few days and perhaps remembering, just a bit, what it means to be a person led by whim and wonder.
That’s something I have sorely missed since my last trip, and something I sorely need.