I remember when I first got back from my 30b430 trip. I was so used to looking at things through the eyes of tourist that I saw home in a whole new light. For the first few weeks after I got back I had a brilliant time exploring all of the places I’d missed during the nine months I’d been away. I went to the beach in my hometown of Scarborough, shopped in the Lanes in Brighton where I’d spent almost four years living and hung out in London with my friends.
I always think that one of the great things about travelling is that you become so focused on what’s around you. Although there are always day to day chores to deal with like planning the next part of your trip, writing a blog post or washing your undies in the sink, a huge part of your day revolves around getting out, seeing the sights and experiencing new cultures.
But once you’re back home it’s so easy to get distracted with life around you. At the moment, as I try to settle back into daily life, it feels as though there is so much to organise and I always end up feeling guilty if I’m being distracted by something which isn’t on my to-do list.
I’m sure many of you who love travelling also understand that tendency to instantly be looking ahead to your next trip. I’m going to South Africa in April and I’m already talking about it way too much. But sometimes it’s all too easy to be so busy thinking about the next trip that you don’t take time to look around.
At the moment I’m living in York, a city just an hour away from my hometown. I came here a lot when I was growing up so to be honest I haven’t really thought much about what there is to do here. I’m so used to seeing the huge stone walls which surround the city and walking through the narrow streets known as the Shambles that I haven’t really questioned their historical significance.
But last weekend Visit York, the city’s visitor information service, in partnership with the City of York Council, held its annual Residents Festival. I love the idea behind it which is to say thank you to the people who live in the city for the welcome they give to its seven million visitors every year. The festival gives people the opportunity to be a tourist in York for the weekend by offering free access to many of the city’s attractions.
There were so many options to choose from but, as it had just snowed overnight, we chose to do an hour and a half guided tour (because what else would you choose to do when it’s freezing cold?) The tour focused on the secret spots of the city and, even though I couldn’t feel my toes for most of it, it was absolutely brilliant. I learnt so much about the city in those 90 minutes, ranging from its pretty gruesome history which our guide particularly enjoyed telling us about – which includes being founded by the Romans, invaded by the Vikings and attacked by William the Conqueror – to the signature cat statues which architect Tom Adams adds to his buildings (which are more my cup of tea than stories about people getting their heads chopped off).
So as well as teaching me that there’s a Mister Spock hidden somewhere in the carvings of York Minster, the tour also taught me to appreciate the place I live in and to make the most of what’s around me, rather than always looking ahead for the next adventure.