Here we are once again, at the start of a brand new year. It’s a new opportunity, a fresh start… But that implies that something else had to end in order for this to begin. Makes you kind of nostalgic, huh?
Except it really is a brand new year! So I opted for something different, something brand new, with less nostalgia and more adventure… What came out was a travel log! One great thing about my 2014 was, for sure, all the beautiful trips I took. And that is why I decided that would be the perfect angle from which to show you, painters, bits and pieces of my year. I hope you enjoy this small journey as much as I enjoyed all of mine!
Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
― Mary Ritter Beard
Barcelona in May
I started by fulfilling one of my mother’s wishes and going away for the weekend somewhere with her. That’s how it started, anyway. Next thing we knew, we were in Freddie Mercury’s serenaded Barcelona, in the peak of spring. We had some lovely sunny days and, instead of always jumping on buses or the metro, we tried to walk as much as we could. You take in the soul of the city a lot better when you get to walk through its quiet streets during the typical siesta hours. And if you end up getting lost (which we did a couple times)… take pleasure in the fact that you are lost in a beautiful city!
“Not all those who wander are lost.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Albufeira in July
Albufeira, almost three months later, had the complete opposite dynamics from my first trip to Barcelona. After we were done with our exams, Ângela put together 5 of the nerdiest people on Earth and took us all to a sea-side town. We spent our days reading on the beach (quite literally!) and the hours seem to drift away so quietly… It was perfect to regain some strength and relax, not to mention gain a suntan as well.
“I have found out that there ain’t no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them.”
― Mark Twain, Tom Sawyer Abroad
Taizé (passing through Barcelona, Ville de Cluny, Rocamadour and Bilbao)
Go to Taizé’s wikipedia page, and you will find: “The Taizé Community is an ecumenical monastic order in Taizé, Saône-et-Loire, Burgundy, France. It is composed of more than one hundred brothers, from Protestant and Catholic traditions, who originate from about thirty countries across the world. (…) The community has become one of the world’s most important sites of Christian pilgrimage. Over 100,000 young people from around the world make pilgrimages to Taizé each year for prayer, Bible study, sharing, and communal work. Through the community’s ecumenical outlook, they are encouraged to live in the spirit of kindness, simplicity and reconciliation.”
Go to Taizé itself, and you will find that it is so much more. Taizé can, quite frankly, be what you want it to be: a new adventure, a place to meet different people, a stepping stone in a spiritual journey, a new direction for your Faith… It can be all of those things, none of them, or something more. To me, it was something more.
Taizé was both a challenge and a place of rest and connection to God. I did meet new people and I had intriguing conversations about religion, faith, but also cultural and linguistic differences, economics or even music with other people my age. I saw different ways to practice and live with religion. I broadened my horizons. And then, there was something more. It was not a magical “more”, nor was it a fantasy sort of “more”. It was in the peace I felt, in the hope I gained. It was Faith and it was God.
Taizé is a place of deep beauty indeed. If you have a chance, check out what a typical community prayer there looks like – you won’t regret it!
Since we went to Taizé in such a big group, we went by bus. It took us 2 days to get there, because the drivers had to stop and rest for 8 hours everyday. So we enjoyed some sightseeing in cities like Bilbao and (once again) Barcelona, and the smaller towns of Ville de Cluny (just outside of Taizé) and the breathtaking Rocamadour.
“Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us, or we find it not.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Emerson’s Essays
And this was my 2014, recounted by the trips and – perhaps most importantly – journeys in which I adventured. Travelling is fascinating to me, because it shows you how large of a place the world is – and how much beauty truly fills it. It is knowledge, in its purest form, since you see for yourself what it’s like in other places, with other people, in other lives. To explore is to de-center from yourself and re-center on the huge world you are a part of. It is to take all that you find and keep it with you, forever. To travel with an open mind is never and can never be a waste of money, time or energy.
May we do all things with an open mind in this upcoming year.
“Wherever you go becomes a part of you somehow.”
― Anita Desai