Tuesday, July 31, 2012

The Joys of Traveling

I have come to a realization. I hate traveling.

I'll pause a minute while the laughter dies down.

I agree, I think it's funny too, that the girl who has constant wanderlust, frequently goes walkabout and lives in Russia hates traveling. But I really do.

I like adventuring. I like seeing new places and doing new things but what I don't like? Getting there.

I feel like I'm pretty well versed in traveling. Especially since I've had to travel a lot for my visa this year. Planes, trains, cars, buses. Pretty much the only way I haven't really traveled is by boat. I'll have to remedy that situation.

I used to absolutely loathe flying. It was my least favorite way to travel. You sit for eight hours breathing recycled air and watching bad movies while the guy next to you snores away and keeps invading your personal space by taking over the armrest on that side. (okay, this is actually a problem I've noticed on other transportation types as well.) If you're lucky you get an aisle seat that allows you to kind of stretch your legs a bit. If you're not, you're crammed in by a window for all that time which would be cool except this is an airplane we're talking about and so it's not like there's anything to see out the window anyway. That's one of the worst things about airplanes. You spend eight hours feeling like you aren't going anywhere. Yet the advantage is that airplanes are relatively fast. So after eight hours of this joyful journey, you stumble into the light of day in a completely different country, completely confused by what time it is (And if you're like me, you run panicked to the gate where you're next flight is because you think you're late when in reality you really have a four hour layover) and completely dead tired because between the guy next to you and the can of coke you drank, sleep on the plane did not happen.

As bad as the airplane is though, it has recently been replaced in my mind by something even worse... the train. Now I've traveled on the train before and it's not been too terrible, but honestly, the worst time to travel on the train is summer. I recently got back from a trip to Donetsk, Ukraine and train travel was involved. The ride down was absolutely terrible. Stuck in a wagon for 18 hours with no air conditioner and only one open window in the entire wagon. For some reason, everyone else thought it would be a great idea to not open their windows and so I spend 18 hours melting and dehydrating. It was definitely a unique experience. Especially when you combine it with the way Russians travel. You have babushki setting out picnics and people running around half naked. I mean, what else are you supposed to do? Not to mention the lovely toilet experience which is ridiculously scary.

I've developed a coping strategy for traveling. Especially because I travel alone a lot. Basically, I put in my music, and mentally shut down for however long it takes to get where I'm going. Actually, mentally shut down isn't quite the word for it. It's not like I'm not thinking or anything, but I kind of shut down to the outside and think very philosophical thoughts. Okay, Okay, I'll admit it. I'm usually just daydreaming.

One of my favorite ways to travel in this part of the world is by Luxe Express. Now Luxe Express is a bus, but I call it by it's name because it's not your ordinary Greyhound. Luxe Express is a company that runs buses through the Baltic States. When I go to Estonia I take Luxe Express. Why? Well because they are comfy, roomy, I can drink all the coffee, tea and hot chocolate I want absolutely free and they have free wi-fi on the bus. Yes, that's right. Free wi-fi.

None of this applies of course if I'm traveling *with* someone, because let's face it, having a traveling companion or companions is what turns a trip into an adventure.

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