The Way We See The World

14 Sep

Recently I have been dreaming oftener and oftener (seems like that should say softener?) of travelling.  Booking, planning, packing, leaving, exploring –  the yearning for adventure has returned! A couple of very lovely weekends away this year have given me the teeniest pip-sized taste of travel, but I find myself looking up flights and trains to imaginary destinations and mapping out trips we will absolutely, definitely, probably maybe take. Potentially. Which is funny, because I thought my travelling days were over. 

Clearly you don’t need to travel abroad to indulge the desire to explore, especially not in Israel where weekends often feel like mini-vaca’s and the beach is always less than an hour away.  I suppose I shouldn’t be too baffled by the return of the travel bug. I was on transatlantic flights when I was still in utero. My Mum claims she survived the worst flight of her life 7 months pregnant with me, and I saw most of north America aged 1, strapped into a baby carrier,  peering over my Dad’s shoulders. And thus it began. If only I’d had a Holga to pass the time. 

When I was big enough to actually hold a camera, school holidays were spent in the Cotswolds and are still amongst my favourite memories –  building bridges across the babbling brook outside of our cottage in muddy wellies, huddled on musty couches watching Labyrinth on Christmas eve, the perfume shop in Bourton-on-the-Water, and in the summer – bucket’n’spade seaside trips down to Bournemouth. 

My world expanded with simple and lovely summer visits to my grandparents in Dublin, where flavours of Dairy Milk existed that had yet to arrive in London – Tiffin and Mint Crisp were particular favourites – the river Liffey stunk and Irish accents wafted over our small child-sized heads like comforting nursery rhymes. Every street held another memory for my Dad. There were road-trips in minivans through the lush, green countryside of southern Ireland, where we would wake up to find cows in the back garden and a horse at the end of our yard, where freckle-faced Irish children befriended and picnicked with us in blustery weather. I know this from photographs, but I remember it in flashes too. My first real holiday.   

One summer, there was a black&white house in Wales, where the beach was at the end of our garden. I remember mainly salt’n’vinegar crisps and tuna sandwiches, a tap outside the house to wash off our beachy feet. Travel was small and delightful, safe, salty and sandy. 

Our visits to Israel, which began when I was around 8, were crucial in helping me understand, at such a young age, how a country beyond the one I was born in could be interesting and important, with a history and stories of its own. Unlike Birthright trips today that focus less on the Jewish connection to Israel, I knew where I stood.  The two were intricately linked, and Israel would always feeldifferent to the many other places we would eventually visit. Those trips forged a bond for me, which so many years later informed one of the biggest decisions I’ve ever made. 

But as gung-ho members of that unique group of folk known as ‘ex-pats’, my family explored little bits of the globe like it was nobody’s business.  In hindsight, my parents were such brave and adventurous young parents! In their retirement, they are still travelling all over the shop to visit us, and hopping off for weekends away together. Back then, they seized the opportunity of working abroad to introduce us to other ways of living, and at the core of it all was our family and our Jewishness.  This was our way of seeing the world. My siblings and I understood the phrases ‘air-miles’ and ‘check-in’ from age nil, we became used to staying in the best hotels the world over, the Concierge was the guy who could unlock the Games room, there’s no swimming after breakfast, Housekeeping staff appreciate being called by their first names, and culottes are always to be avoided (thanks for the lesson, American tourists). 

As we grew older, I got used to meeting the older sibs for summer holidays in the Far East, South America, the Caribbean or Europe, depending on where we were stationed.  It was a strange, exciting, transient time. My regrets were missing out on being in the Netball team, and when my friends in school launched a campaign to bring me home  – there was a petition, which even the school janitor signed – it took me a while to feel happy with living so far away. But I adjusted, and our new life always overtook any homesickness for London. 

 We travelled and flew and and travelled and flew. Years before it was overrun by tourists, I had my hair braided and beaded on the island of Koh Samui, in Malaysia I watched freshly caught Lobster scrabble around as it was fished from a wall of dirty tanks;  I fell in love with Lake Louise in Banff; tasted Butterscotch for the first time at the Imperial Hotel, Cork, marvelled at long-haired surfers on the beaches of Maui and took high tea at the infamous Raffles hotel, Singapore.  I raced my brother up the hilly streets of San Francisco; drank my first cocktail on Margarita Island,  gazed at Hong Kong from the top of a red double-decker “London” bus, lived in a hotel above a mall in Caracas for 3 months with my brother and my parents, and celebrated my Bat Mitzvah in Japan. 

I saw a lot of the world, but nowhere near all of it.  There are a kzillion, yes kzillion, places still to see, most of which I probably never will.  After almost 5 years here in once place, I’m feeling a bit too settled.  It’s a bug. I’m ready to make plans be excited about new places and smells and people.  But can real life continue that way? I dream of India, Morocco, the Amalfi coast, New Zealand and yes, getting back to Japan. There are friends in Amsterdam to visit, and a weekend in Paris never went amiss… 

The best thing about the year I spent “studying” in Pennsylvania was the 2 month road trip that 8 of us took at the end of the year, when I’d had just about enough of beer pong and 6 foot high snow. We camped our way through national parks – Yellowstone, the Dakotas and Montana, drove 15 hours into Canada and back down again to Seattle, and through the Redwood forests. Then I got sick and had to fly home.  

In one of my recent daydreams, I own a vintage VW camper van and I get to finish that road-trip, this time with Dotan, camping and exploring the US for as long as it’s possible to live out of a brightly coloured van with one other person.  So realistically – like, maybe a week? Showering and good food are included in this detailed daydream. Then I found these people – – who make it possible.

I don’t think I’ll ever want to stop going somewhere. I have inherited it from my parents, who strapped me to their backs and just went for it. 

Excuse me while I go and look up the price of tickets to California… 



6 Responses to “The Way We See The World”

  1. Katie September 14, 2011 at 15:11 #

    Loved, loved, loved this. From a fellow wandering Jew

    • danniibee December 18, 2011 at 17:55 #

      Thanks Kates! Let’s wander somewhere in the same direction sometime soon…

  2. Gideon September 14, 2011 at 17:32 #

    mmm…mint crisp
    my travelling list gets longer every year…so much to do so little time x

  3. Anna September 14, 2011 at 23:49 #

    I’m so desperate to go travelling that I actually bought a book telling me how to travel round the world.
    PS – I think we had caretakers, rather than janitors, in North West 😉

    • danniibee November 29, 2011 at 09:55 #

      Ha you’re right! Weren’t they called Frank and Wendy? Am I imagining that? Maybe we can meet somewhere on our travels…

Please leave a reply! Thanks - Dannii x

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