If you’re my regular reader, you’ll have noticed all (nearly) my blog headings are music titles. I have a huge, though some would say quite narrow collection of stuff to draw from, and it’s seldom hard to come up with something apposite. Usually, with me, it’s the case that the title is about the last component of a blog – the thoughts and content nearly always come first. Today’s different, though. The song was in my head, and I began to realise how appropriate the words had become.
I’ve tweeted a fair bit about the journey I’m on at present, but only found time, inspiration or wifi connection, to blog here and here. To bring you up to speed, I had almost a month in my beloved Dolomites, and I am now nearer home, stopping over in Chamonix for a week. This was an accident. When doing the planning and original booking, I flipped over two diary pages by mistake. When I came to review the itinerary, after having made some of the accommodation and return travel bookings, I discovered I had a one week “hole” in the trip. That slip-up was rectified when I found that the lovely flat in Chamonix, that I rented for five weeks at this time last year, was available again for exactly that accidental week. Made to be.
That’s where I am now. My wife travelled home over two weeks ago, after our first stint of self catering ended, and I’ve been a solo traveller in three different hotels since then. Now I’m in a flat, self catering, and it’s suddenly a very different world. (This is where the Dylan track comes in, in case you had begun wondering whether I’d lost my own plot.)
“How does it feel, to be on your own?…”
Right now? Very empty. Hotels, other guests, communal breakfast rooms, etc all provide a veneer of companionship when you’re a solo traveller. Self catering, in a nice, but nevertheless anonymous third floor apartment, throws you back on yourself, makes you reflective, and vocalises that inner dialogue. That’s a posh way of saying I talk to myself and to my furry travelling companion, of course.
There’s a great freedom in not having to get up for a predetermined breakfast time, etc, but the added overhead that, if you want it done, you’re going to have to do it yourself. No one to replace your towels, make your bed each day, etc! On the up side, I can have a cup of tea made with properly boiled water, though. I’d been craving that for a fortnight. Most French supermarkets here have an “Anglais” section (though why no German, Italian, or Japanese one?) and I’ve even been able to buy Tetley teabags!
“A complete unknown…”
Until last year, I hardly knew Chamonix. I’d stayed a few days here and there, and stayed quite nearby. Like it to me, I was a stranger. Visit somewhere often enough and your face gets known. I feel privileged that there are places in the Dolomites where I have become recognised as a regular. Not so in Chamonix. I felt very familiar with the place when it came to going home time last year. There was physical pain in that parting, if I’m honest. That’s why it’s so good to be back, even for a far shorter stay. But to Cham, its people and shopkeepers, I’m still just another nameless white face.
“With no direction home…”
Very true. I have a week when I’m finished here, before I’m due on board Le Shuttle. I left the details of that week empty, save for the Channel crossing date, and I was sure that “something” would occur to me in the preceding six weeks with which to fill the days. Well, not yet, it hasn’t. It’s probably down to having too much choice (lucky me). Unfortunately, I’ve been beating myself up about not spending longer in the Dolomites. Too far away now to go back there again before heading home, sadly.
“Like a rolling stone.”
So, I literally don’t know where I will be this time next week. I’m getting close to the boundaries of my travelling comfort zone! This has been a bit of a “consolidating” journey. I’ve not really been anywhere new to me, but have enjoyed finding out why I love some of the places I’ve been. Distance, they say, lends enchantment. True enchantment to me is stuff like walking down the main street in Cortina d’Ampezzo and almost saying out loud “My God, I love this place!” (Which I did, recently.)
I expect something will turn up. Maybe I should insist to myself it be somewhere new?