Wednesday, June 1, 2016
Travel Link-Up: Second Chances
This month's travel link-up topic is all about unexpected places. For me, the greatest surprise has been revisiting a destination I'd previously disliked - and the 360-degree change in opinion that followed. Has this ever happened to you?
Here's my story ...
My earliest memory of Amsterdam was wandering the streets on a cold, grey, and windswept afternoon, crying as I went from pharmacist to pharmacist, trying to get antibiotics for a painful infection I developed 24 hours into my arrival. John's dad and his partner, Nicole, (who split their time between Amsterdam and Leicester) had left for the weekend, letting us stay in their apartment. Finally, I managed to get the number of an emergency doctor who prescribed the said antibiotics and I spent the rest of our visit curled up on the couch in the apartment, watching boats drift past on the canal as John stood idly by, not knowing what to do.
I detested it. The situation, the place, everything. And so, for the longest time, I associated Amsterdam with this short-lived illness I had. The mere mention of the city made me shudder.
But for some reason, when John suggested that we jet off to Amsterdam a few years after that dreaded visit, I acquiesced.
It was Easter, and there wasn't a cloud in sight. The sun shone brightly; people swung their legs over the edge of the canal and read books in their oversized windows with the doors flung open and a mug of coffee by their sides. The tulips were in full bloom and created a parade of colors on every street we passed. We ate dinner at incredibly cool restaurants in the Jordaan and shopped independent designers in a converted warehouse.
This visit couldn't have been more different than the last. I realized how silly I'd been to avoid returning to Amsterdam because of a simple case of bad luck. My revelation was both
unexpected and welcomed: this Amsterdam had been there all along. It was just waiting for a second chance.
I don't know what you're like when you travel, but I'm quick to make a snap judgment. For all that gushing I did over Bordeaux? We did not get off to a great start. After spending an idyllic few days at Les Sources de Caudalie, I arrived to a city centre where shops and restaurants had arbitrary opening times, sidewalks were more often than not lined with precious little nuggets of dog shit, and the popular "water mirror" installation seemed to be out of commission. Aimless wandering around the so-called "antiques district" proved fruitless as we combed street after deserted street with no stores in sight.
I grumbled. I swore. I huffed. I complained so vociferously, that my poor, long-suffering husband had to take me away to the beach (like one would promise a trip to the toy store for a small child) in search of sun, sand, and sea.
Then we went back to Bordeaux. We relaxed in our beautiful Airbnb apartment and I carefully researched the streets which comprised the antique district, instead of guessing at where it actually was. When a store we wanted to visit had closed for "lunch hours", we sat down for a glass of wine instead. I dodged the dog shit and even cooed at a little one who'd been let off his leash for the afternoon. We wrapped our arms around each other at the water mirror for a few minutes and before long, the pool began to fill and do its thing. We realized that the squares were where all the locals hung out, so we drank beers outside with everyone else and talked until the sky was pitch black and we were shivering.
And then I fell in love. Bordeaux frustrated me and drove me crazy but it was beautiful and unique and, in the end, it got under my skin. I loved it so unexpectedly, so ardently, that it surprised me (and then I wanted to move there, but that's another story for another post).
So, what have these second-chances taught me? To keep an open mind - sure, but also to be patient. What has travelling with John taught me? That there are always options. And that a change of scenery is always a good idea.
This month's travel link-up is hosted by Emma, Angie, Jessi, and Carolann. Head over to their blogs to read more stories about unexpected places!