By the time I reached Southern England, I was exhausted. I wasn’t physically exhausted or anything, but my travel veins were drained dry. It was by the time that I reached Kent that I had come to the realization that I should have included more variety in my UK travel schedule. I was talking photos of nothing but buildings, and city after city began to start to look alike. I found myself annoyed as often as I was inspired, something that is rare for me.
I arrived off the National Express from Victoria Square in London, dragged my bag up the hill to my hostel in Canterbury rolled into bed and just crashed.
After sleeping soundly, I hiked towards the cathedral hoping for a change in my mood. However, it was more of the same. I was pushing my way through groups of annoying French school kids, being bumped as I looked around, and shooting images of the inside of a building that had started to look just like all the others. Frazzled and grumpy I decided I needed to get away.
I tossed my camera in my backpack and walked in the opposite direction, heading nowhere in particular. When the town ended but the trail didn’t, I continued. I just kept walking until I couldn’t see the city in the background anymore. It seemed like the farther I got from the city the more my spirits lifted. I crossed under a railroad track and came face to face with a herd of goofy looking Highland Cows. They couldn’t help up put a smile on my face. I laid down in the wet grass inches away from a cow with an emo haircut and took a couple pictures as I giggle to myself.
I found a spot on an open chunk of grass and unloaded my camera gear from my back and the bad energy from my chest that I had been packing around the past few days. I just sat and stared off into the open countryside.
“I’m in f**king England,” I say to myself out load as I start to laugh. “I’m such a spoiled brat.”
You see, when you travel 365 days a year it’s not difficult to lose the meaning, to lose your grounding. Whereas most people have to be pinched to prove they are somewhere special, I often need a solid punch in the jaw to realize that I am living my dream. For years I dreamed of being in the exact place I was, my entire life I thought that working as a traveller was some sort of fantasy, and I am living that fairy tale right now.
So although I didn’t spend more than 5 minutes at Canterbury’s famous cathedral, nor did I check out anything out in town, Canterbury gave me the slap across the face that I needed.
When you eat too much of the same food, you often begin to lose the taste. When you travel too much, the same can happen. Sometimes it just takes a moment alone in the countryside to be reminded what it feels like to explore, to discover and to be curious about the world around you. I was reminded in Canterbury that a destination isn’t what the guidebooks or travel blogs tell you about, a destination is what you make of it. For most people, Canterbury is about the cathedral, and the history. For me, Canterbury is about the moment I realized that following the conventional doesn’t always work for me, I have to be my own traveller, and, most of all, sometimes I just need to wander until I’m completely lost.