These days it seems like everyone has been to Machu Picchu. Your friends plaster selfies of themselves at the famous lost city with the same enthusiasm of Hollywood directors showing their latest imagining of some two-bit hoodlum slaughtering Batman's parents.
Running with the bulls was never some kind of game. I was already conflicted with this being one of the few requirements of having a dream job (big props to Stoke Travel for the opportunity too) and listening to my mother, with the slightest touch of frantic in her voice, tell me to be careful certainly didn't help. It was the afternoon before the opening day of San Fermín, and I was excited, but nervous, but trying not to be nervous, so I told my mother that I wasn't trying to outrun the bulls. As a rule in these situations, you always have to be faster than the slowest person. "Don't worry, mom," I cooed. "I brought my feet shoes!" More on that later.
The train from Antibes to Marseilles takes less than half the time the bus needs, but it costs twice as much. During the time we spent in Juan les Pins, summer playground of the staggeringly wealthy, we were at our poorest. It was the bus for us. Two buses, in fact, from Juan to Cannes and then from Cannes to Marseilles. From there, a train carried us up from the coast, flakes of snow streaking like falling stars past the windows as we rode to Lyon.
Travel. It's one of those things in life that many of us think we know how to do, well, just because. Like speaking to our wives or understanding when to shut up (two deeply interrelated subjects).
I'm very lucky. Travel has always been a massive part of my family's lifestyle and priorities, so by the time I left home for university, I'd been to a fair few countries and continents.
Blame it on Brexit. I never thought the vote would go the way it did, and that the country I was born in would decide to tear itself away from the rest of Europe. I thought I’d always be an EU citizen, with the right to live and work anywhere I chose in twenty-eight different countries. And because I always had the right, I never used it. It was only the thought I might lose a life I had always dreamed of, but never pursued, that made us take the leap we did.
Traveling Japan, it is easy to see that everything is well ordered. Even for a country that is so well known in terms of allowing nature and modern construction to co-exist, most of the natural experiences within Japan are curated, careful to avoid the look of decay, wild overgrowth, or chaos. In contrast, within the ground of temples and sacred areas, wildlife frolic, plant life grows unchecked, and the separation between nature and modern life is blurred. This is not to say that the most important areas of temples and shrines are not well kept, but that you can find a secret world where nature finds a way, even in a society that seeks to control it everywhere else.
This photo may look wild and remote. But the truth is that we shared a path with hundreds, maybe even thousands of people with selfie sticks, hiking up the steep path to the iconic Storr. The road below was lined with the cars of these eager visitors, causing traffic jams.
The plan of tackling three countries in three weeks originated from being European and wanting to visit more than one country on our first trip to Asia. We therefore also chose countries that were "obvious" to visit and that were fairly close to each other. Our means of transportation from city to city and from country to country were solely by high speed trains and airplanes (I'm very sorry, mother nature). In the cities, we mostly walked and used the subway. Because we are still students, we chose to live on a budget mostly, hence why some of our flight times were less than ideal. However, we managed just fine! :)