Looking To The Past

I really want to be a jerk today.  See, I talked about my first real trip on Wednesday, but I also did a Hometown Friday post last Friday.  I gave you fair warning that Hometown Fridays probably weren’t going to become a thing, but a part of me wants to be a jerk and make it a thing and make you (whoever you are) wait for stories about my trip. 

But the nice part of me wins a lot of these battles in real life.  When I’m writing it’s a completely different matter (just ask my characters).

So here are a few things that I’ve learned about traveling since I was in Grade 11:

  1. There’s nothing wrong with Group Travel.  I was only 15 and it was my first time travelling without my parents, so I was glad that everything was pretty much planned for me.  I definitely wouldn’t have had the guts to go to Africa on my own, so I’m glad we had a tour group.  Also, if you’re visiting a city and you want to get out for a day or two, it can be fun to try a group trip (like Wine Tours of the Rhine River in Germany, and tours to Trim Castle & the Hill of Tara in Ireland).  This way you don’t have to worry about transportation, getting lost, or worry about what to see and where to eat.  And, as a bonus, you might get a super cool tour guide.
  2. That being said – Don’t forget to get out on your own.  One of my favorite memories is when my friends and I left our hotel (without a chaperone) to eat supper at the Chinese restaurant down the street.  Once you’re comfortable in a place, nothing is more boring than being stuck in a group, so get out and explore, walk the streets, try new foods.  Then someday you can say that the best Chinese food you’ve had (so far) was from a restaurant in Spain.
  3. Try new things. Some of our meals were included at the hotel, so we usually ate two meals in the dining room when we weren’t on day trips.  There was a buffet set up in dining room with many different options, but I had friends who only ate fries or salads, because they were familiar.  Eat at places that aren’t McDonalds – try the local cuisine, sample amazing margharita pizza.  Take a chance and eat that mystery meat in Africa (after all, they can’t poison you when it’s a group tour, right?).
  4. Digital Cameras are the best thing ever.  I remember the days when you had to pay for every single photo, whether it was crap or not.  You had no way to tell if your photo was crap until you were home and your pictures were developed.  The best part is that you can take a ton of photos and delete the bad ones later.  Plus, memory cards are much cheaper nowadays, so you can take a bunch and fill ’em all up.
  5. Take a lot of photos because some day you may forget.  It was seriously tough back in the day, when you had to pay for film and you had no choice but to develop your crappy photos.  But these days you don’t have to worry about ‘wasting’ film on bad pictures.  So take a bunch.  That way when your memory starts failing you, you’ll have lot of things to look back on.  You don’t have to have your head stuck behind your camera 24/7, but you should take pictures of interesting things.  Looking back on my pictures from that trip, I wish I’d taken at least a few more pictures, especially inside the cave.

And to prove the points behind 4 & 5: Here’s a lovely view of the Pillars of Hercules avec Thumbprint (my photography skills have improved since then):

Apparently Past-Self wanted to give Present-Self a reason for going back to Gibralter (to get a decent picture).

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