The people at EasyJet Holidays have launched an Inspiration Initiative, asking bloggers who, what, where and when inspired them to travel. Having read the fabulous posts by Kate of A Brit Abroad and Arianwen of Beyond Blighty on this topic, and looking forward to reading many more, I’m joining in with the fun. Inspiration is the very thing which fuels Starry-Eyed Travels, after all.
My Great Great Aunt, who lived until she was 98, didn’t begin travelling until after she had retired, but she more than made up for lost time. She went off on her own to Australia to find long lost family, cannily spent the winter months in Southern Spain and cruised the length of Britain’s rivers. Her fearless attitude and and boundless enthusiasm certainly inspired me. Mixed with other relatives’ tales of escaping from Malaysia, falling in love in Germany and sailing the seven seas, I suppose wanderlust is simply in my blood.
Bill Bryson’s Books. I think I was 14 or 15 when I first picked up a copy of The Lost Continent in my local library, one rainy Saturday. I have never laughed so much over a book and it didn’t take me long to finish. I think I was hooked from that moment on, both on his writing and on the idea of travel. From then on, it became almost tradition to buy one of his books each holiday and to travel with it. I read his various books in the awning of a carvan at a campsite in Dorset, on the balcony of a hotel in the South of France, on the beach in Spain, high in the Andes in Peru. He is the best writer any aspiring traveller can read because he makes everything, even the most mundane things, into an adventure. Seeing the world from his perspective allowed me to become a traveller all of the time, not just when I am abroad.
Marrakesh, Morrocco, was the place that sealed the deal for me. I had just turned 18 and while most of my friends headed off to a Spanish or Greek party resort, I dragged a loyal and long-suffering friend to Marrakesh. The reason? It was within our pretty meagre budget and it sounded ridiculously exotic. And it was. It assaults the senses unlike anywhere else I have been, before or since, in every possible way. We went at the height of summer, not the best time to go – it was 40 plus degrees every single day. The souks were a riot of colours, shouts, smells. Haggling deals were finalized with mint tea ceremonies served in a corner of the tiny tent-shops. In the main square, a dentist sat with teeth displayed in front of him, snake charmers played their mezmerizing tunes, women attacked us with henna before we could say no. I got food poisining, we experienced a flash flood and we found ourselves in one rather scary situation. But I fell in love with Marrakesh and with the idea of travel. And I basically haven’t stopped since.
I think I have always had the instinct and the desire to travel, but I think the defining moment came when I told my mum that I was going to spend the summer in the rural south of Mexico by myself. I was 19 at the time, and pretty naive. It was, in many ways, a nightmarish adventure and so far from how I thought it was going to be. But at the same time, it was utterly extraordinary – I stayed in a house in the jungle, five minutes from the Guatemalan border. People stared at me when I walked down the road. They couldn’t believe that this place called Britain really existed and that I had come from there. They stared a lot more when I walked up and down the road, trying desperately to keep my phone in signal and crying as I explained to my mum that I was staying with a deranged woman and looking after four children with severe behavioural problems. I learnt a lot from that experience and once I got home, it didn’t take me long to come to the rather strange realisation that it hadn’t put me off. Just a few weeks later, I packed my bags again and went off to start a year abroad in France and Spain, prepared for anything it could throw at me.
So that’s my travel inspiration, what about you? What inspired you as a traveller? Leave your comments below, or join in the chat on Twitter – look for the #InspireTravel hashtag.
I also have the chance to nominate 5 bloggers to join the Inspiration Initiative:
I can’t wait to see what they come up with!