Ever since I’ve been back from my vacation, have been receiving queries if I would blog about my travel. Initially this did not cross my mind as I am not a travel blogger, the theme does not align with the stuff I research and write about. Secondly, I would love to keep the vacation as a vacation and not try and describe it. However, a couple of nights ago, somewhere around 4 am it struck me there are some life lessons from the trip which can be written about.
It need not be about the orgasmic moments you have when you are exposed to the grandeur of nature, architecture and history, as all of us encounter those during our travels. That is the very reason we plan a travel in the very first place. But there are also some deep learning which get engraved into your sub-conscious which makes you feel exhilarated and fulfilled and hence changes something within you. This is why travel is important. You may read it, google it or you tube it but there is nothing like experiencing it yourself.
So, after much deliberation, I tuned in myself to this Kid Rock classic and got down to typing. Hope you enjoy the song and the blog 😊.
PS: The title of the blog is inspired (copied) from the song. I love Kid Rock songs, maybe this is as close I could get to be him :p
Day 1 we land up in Amsterdam, no I didn’t have this in my itinerary for what you corrupt minds are thinking about. But I am going to speak about those things and you will know why. Amsterdam has always been a dream to visit and as we strolled the streets the sense of a dream being realized is euphoric (you know what I am talking about). As we strolled through the Anne Frank walking tour and the house (which is a great tour to do not just for Anne Frank, but you also to get a good detour of the city and the lanes and its history) we could not help but notice the coffee shops and the red -light street or the red-light district during the tour. People who know about Amsterdam, are well aware of the coffee shops and the red-light area. The coffee shops openly sell Marijuana, Hash, Skunk and its variants and the red-light street solicit visitors for sex or whatever you can think of from the word sex. The simple reason? Both of these are considered legal in Amsterdam just as buying groceries or buying a ticket to a theme park and using the rides.
Now the first thought crossing our minds is what place on earth would this city be that openly sells weed and sex? The people living here would have no morals, the crime rate would be so high and would be totally unsafe for women and children with smokers roaming freely on the roads. All of this is completely untrue. In spite of being out there in the open, Amsterdam is one of the safest, coolest and cleanest cities I have ever visited amongst a list of some 25 cities I have traveled outside India. This is the first learning of the trip.
What we define as immoral or forbidden or wrong is just a reflection of thought and is not a global mandate. By bringing things out in the open from the closet we actually reduce or even eliminate the risks of any catastrophe they may cause. There are issues and items which we keep within ourselves considering them to be prohibited and hence do not discuss about them with others. This happens at large at a societal level and even in our personal lives with our family. Having a constructive discussion with people who matter about issues that matter has been proven to make people happier and bring them closer. Just as Amsterdam, if we re-look at what is right and wrong, what is ethically correct or incorrect we would be surprised with the way things actually are. Countries (almost the entire world) where marijuana and prostitution are banned report the highest crime rates for drug and human trafficking and problems arising due to drugs or prostitution. Apart from this when we try and control the youth from doing anything that is “forbidden” the more they are attracted towards it to get that “kick” out of life (how we are now remembering our teenage years!). But if the forbidden is taken out from an activity, it just becomes another regular thing which would have its own pros and cons. Like I mentioned in my previous blog on technology (considering you have read it) it is not the technology that is the demon here, it is our intent which we use it for that makes it scary.
Next stop Barcelona was the most hyped up city by the people who have been there. I know someone personally who has traveled to Barcelona a staggering 65 times. I haven’t even visited my native on those many occasions, so yeah was looking forward. The city has a vibe that pulls you to it. Barcelona is the capital of Catalonia region in Spain which sadly is going through a political crisis, but let us not get into that here. The city much like the major metros of the world and the similar to the city where I come from is alive and kicking with its lifestyle, people and variety. There is a hustle and pace which is swifter than the other tourist spots but has an amazing culture and some stunning views at the same time. However, like the other great metros it has some dark spots and the one which we were constantly warned about – the pick-pocketing. To our horror, our stay was right on the street where the pick-pocketing thrives – The La Ramblas.
Now La Ramblas is one of the most happening streets of Barcelona, the rush, the bars, the music, all generate a tremendous vibe. Naturally it is also the most crowded areas of Barcelona with tourists from all over the world, which incites pick-pocketing. After much pondering on how we go about cruising the streets without being bothered, we came out with the most effective solution (at least during this trip). We decided to act local and carry nothing on us! Thankfully, Barcelona does have a sizeable populace of working Asians (India, Pakistan and Bangladesh). This did help us in our little play as the locals normally would not be bothered and especially when you don’t carry bags on you like the regular tourists. We skipped carrying our slings and the zillion items with it and settled for just one phone and very little cash. Guess what, we were the happy carefree travelers! Nothing to carry or worry about, nothing can be flicked or demanded.
Here was the second life lesson and an old adage – “The lesser your baggage the happier you are!” We are so attached to the things we love that we stop living the way we want in the fear of losing those objects. The day we realize that objects or materials beyond the bare necessities only weigh us down, we would be able to get of the excess and live lighter. This is to be true of our relations too. We ponder a lot and most often withdraw ourselves in reaching out to people due to the excess baggage of ego, pride we self-inflict upon us. When we are right and the other person is not, we feel it is our birth right to go on a full-blown war in proving our righteousness to the world and boost our ego instead of taking a negotiation route. We overlook the relationship that would be damaged in the process due to this baggage we roam with. When we have nothing to lose, anything that comes in our way is a huge bonus. New learnings, new people, new relationships that only add value to ourselves.
The architecture and work of Antonio Gaudi is an education in itself and cannot be described in this format or forum. Montserrat was another tour which was jaw dropping for its scenic views and history. The monastery was built in the 11th century, much before America was discovered!
Note: La Ramblas is a must visit in Barcelona, we stayed there and partied for 3 nights in a row. Message me individually for cost, hotel details and the party spots 😉
Going to Ibiza was another dream come true. For a good initial couple of hours post landing, my wife would not stop playing “Vengaboyz – We are going to Ibiza” track. She never thought she would be at the same place mentioned in a song she loved in her teens. After a while, we had to counsel her that it was ok and to stop playing the song. Anyways, Ibiza was a pit stop of sorts for us. We had already walked close to a 100 kms in the first 2 cities and desperately wanted to relax and recharge our batteries. The misconception about traveling during a vacation is that people believe you have rested enough, however this is far away from the truth. Unless planned, vacations drain you out once you are back home and need enough time to get back to normalcy. So yeah we made a conscious effort of not walking much and rolling on the beaches. Ibiza is the party capital of the world with the most sort after DJ’s doing weekly rounds. But if EDM and Techno is not your definition of a perfect holiday then you have countless exotic beaches where you can be soaked in for hours.
Travel and life lesson – Take out time to give enough rest to your body, mind and soul in your journeys. This helps you to be fresher and more importantly take stock of things ahead. During travel there can be a tendency to get overwhelmed with everything around you. So much so that the mind becomes lethargic towards the end of your trip as everything seems to be the same. It is hence crucial for you to take a day off, focus on something new. It’s like taking a backup of your conscious mind and clearing it out for some more space or data to be filled in. In our endeavors towards growth and success we tend to overlook this basic life hack which is only realized later. We need to stop in between and smell the grass (not marijuana, it is illegal in Spain and you would be arrested – this is not Amsterdam). So, we did refuel ourselves literally with some Spanish wines, beers and rum and lot of sun bathing which would explain the tan.
Landing in Madrid, the capital of Spain gives a royal vibe with its architecture. We decided to do a day trip to Seville, which again is very rich in history and was a very important European city during the Spanish and European explorations and colonial era. You couldn’t help getting bowled over by the little streets and the colors the walls were dipped in. It creates an unmatched tone and vibe although being quaint.
Life lesson 4 – Colors are essential in shaping our moods and habits. Habits which go on to construct and design our future. Human brain associates and relates very strongly to colors, textures and patterns. Problems and issues dwell in everyone’s lives, but what color we choose to paint it with defines how each one of us handles these problems. There is nothing such as ugly or bad, maybe it is only coated with the wrong color which can be changed with the right thought process or idea.
Lisbon was our final destination of the trip, and to be honest we were pleasantly surprised with what it offered. We did not think very high of Lisbon as compared to the other cities in the two countries. But post the trip I think I would settle in Lisbon any given day. What attracted us most to this beautiful city is the people. They were forthcoming irrespective of where you came from, highly proactive and took it onto themselves to resolve your issue taking customer service to an all new level. The natural views of Lisbon will leave you highly awestruck as the entire city is situated on seven hills. One cannot help but drool over the winding roads and slopes of this city that adds as a perfect icing to the cake.
The lesson from this city was the respect the city gave to its explorers and the people who were pivotal in building the nation. Monuments of key people at prominent spots emphasized how crucial they were in their times. The “Padrao dos Descobrimentos” or “Monument of the Discoveries” is one such example that honours the navigators of Portugal. In our road to success and daily routines we should thank and show gratitude to what we have and to those who are responsible for it. Countless researches have proven that showing gratitude immensely helps in the happiness index of individuals. From now on be a better human and show gratitude towards all those who have shaped your life (ignore if you already do).
Apart from these there were other life lessons too. A steep hike in Montserrat made us complete the trek in lieu of having a fabulous view from the top. If you want to have a great view of life, yearn to climb to the top. Returning back will take away that pleasure. Off course it has its hardships and sweat, but we took it as a game than a task or activity. If you keep rewarding yourself during the journey with bonus points for coming this far, it makes your journey more enriching, easier and fun to reach your end goal.
If you plan to complete a five-year education course, celebrate at the end of every year. If you yearn for a happy married life, announce to your partner every now and then how important he or she is. If you want to build a castle, enjoy the construction after each room is built. That is what would take you further in spite of the challenges.
I have just realized how long this blog has been, if you enjoyed reading and learning from it the way I have cherished writing it, it would bring me a smile. For more life lessons, we can discuss it over a drink.
Adios for now, as I have to go back and smoke the left overs from Amsterdam.
PS: Just kidding, I might just complete the Kid Rock album.