All boxes ticked, all goals achieved. 3,500 miles travelled, 3,500 photos taken. That’s a satisfying figure, but don’t get the impression I was stopping every mile! I’m blogging this a few days after getting back, in fact. I thought this might be long enough to have given me some idea of the effect the trip has had on me. Sadly, it’s too soon to say. What I can admit to is that I am very relaxed, and very contented about the whole thing.
I had several specific aims – the European Masters Games, some time in the Dolomites, a photographic project, and the like, but these were couched in a pretty loose framework of travel and accommodation. I wanted to keep it loose and follow my nose for a bit, having become too accustomed to needing to be at a specify place at a specific time. Only two pieces of accommodation were pre-booked more than a couple of days in advance. The rest was done using the very able Booking.com iPad app, backed up by reviews I’d read on TripAdvisor. Those really are good tools, by the way. I am glad about this looseness, because it allowed me to re-plan around the only piece of bad weather I encountered. Actually, I ended up with only one wet day in six weeks, plus a couple of close encounters with early winter snow in the Alps. Not bad going, eh?
I thought I’d find turning for home hard, but I managed to make the return legs of the journey a necessary part of the trip, without being so interesting I was tempted to linger further. If I hadn’t been ready to go home (though I was), my wife was keen for me to get back. It was, of course, by her generous agreement that the whole thing happened at all. We did the Venice bit together, of course, and that helped make the thing perhaps seem like two three-week trips. Perhaps.
Coming home was like a time warp. So little had changed. It was just like time travel, really. While I was away, there were moments when time seemed to stand still, and days passed deliciously slowly. I’ve taught enough time management in my time to know that’s nonsense, of course, but I can’t help feeling that was what happened. I’ve also been augmenting my enjoyment and my increasingly poor memory by pretty much constantly playing each day of the trip in succession as a “video in my head”. This is being helped hugely by having shot something like 8 hours of video, mostly while riding the more scenic parts of my route, like the Galibier Pass and the Stelvio Pass. These clips are going to have a wonderfully therapeutic power on bad days to come.
One thing I am very glad of is that in six weeks, I didn’t suffer any spell of significant depression. I feared this quite a lot to begin with. Too bad and it might have caused me to turn for home prematurely. I had several very lonely days, of course. Even now, I choke at how it felt to wander the alleyways of Venice on the day that I’d seen my wife off at the airport. However, in the main, every day had an aim and a purpose, and ended with an outcome.
I am enormously glad I decided to take on the photographic project I’ve mentioned before in this blog. There were times when my shoulders and back were not so glad of my having chosen to lug around a big Bronica GS medium format camera and all the bits that go with it. But working with film, and a great big camera (believe me!) was a very refreshing change from digital snappery, and I’m looking forward to the 14 rolls of film coming back from processing (remember that feeling?). I’m then going to have great fun editing the shots and beginning to assemble them for a future web site. Stay tuned.
Oh, by the way, my travelling companion had a good time, too.