IndonesiaItalyFranceUKMoroccoUK…My Head is Spinning

I left Indonesia with a heavy heart on a plane all by myself, the first from our merry #Travel2Indonesia group to depart Asia. My comrades stayed on to party in Bali and I spent an awkward night in a sort of twilight zone in the Bangkok airport after having completely impulsively made out during my first flight with a handsome British stranger. All I wanted to do was sleep. All I felt was exhaustion. And confusion. My heart was still in the islands. My head was foggy. I wanted a shower. My feet were simply done…done walking, hiking, exploring, standing. I think I caught 30 minutes of shuteye sitting up on a cement floor with my eyes open. What a strange sight I must have presented.

By the time I landed in Milan more than a day later, caught my transport to Genoa, and checked into the Grand Hotel Savoia — I no longer had a clue what time it really was, what time it was supposed to be, whether I was supposed to be tired or wide awake and I certainly was not even remotely prepared to teach at TBE. Is that ok to admit now that it’s all over?! Despite my love for Italy, Genoa’s initial impression didn’t chase away any of my lethargy.

Of course, the best adventures begin with the least expectations. I had no idea how much I would love Genoa, how fabulous the new people I would meet might turn out to be or how dear the old friends I reunited with at the conference would become.

A whirlwind weekend in every sense, I announced the winner of the Intrepid Travel Morocco contest that Angie Away and I co-hosted, taught two classes, found out my trip to Australia was postponed and I was about to be homeless, scheduled a visit to Nice in the place of Australia and lost another night of sleep in the best way I could have imagined to do so. Then, because I hadn’t had enough new experiences already in October…I left for Liguria on zero sleep. This time, freshly showered.

Liguria was a revelation. I didn’t think I could love Italy more but I do now after discovering Genoa, Liguria and following those with a galavant around Milan.

As a full time traveler, I couldn’t take a break. Nice was calling. The Villa Saint Exupery would be my home for a week before continuing on to the UK for World Travel Market.

It rained. It was freezing. My beloved iPhone4S had a meltdown and I lost so many files I still can’t talk about it without crying. Working WiFi was rare and the pace of my life caught up with me on a level I couldn’t shake even by catching up on my sleep. (There was a one day break in Antibes that was like an oasis. Such a fabulous town!) I can say about my time in Nice, that I would return to VSE for the food. In a second. Without a thought. It was THAT good. No hostel-kitchen-ramen-noodles-cheap-french-bread meals during my week. El Bulli what?!

An overnight train to Paris, the Eurostar to London, and a few glorious days where I actually did do nothing but relax without being shuttled around by a PR team bound to a rigorous schedule and then it was time for my business game face for WTM at the Excel Center.

A quick induction to the Church Street Hotel was a rare gift yet before my body had fully adjusted to being in Europe, I was off again, to Morocco. My exploration of the country began with a stay in Marrakech at the Club Med and I finally understood why people like all inclusive resorts. They have their merits! I learned the trapeze! I fell in love with the souks and the sights. So much so, that when Angie and Marie-Eve joined me in Morocco I spoke of little else but how much they were going to love Marrakech. Only Chefchaouen could compete with my affection for the city I started in and after 3 weeks that even further wore down my weary spirit I was more than ready to hang up my travel Tieks and stay in one place for more than one night.

So….. back to the UK I have traveled and I’m typing this from beside a roaring fire, a cuppa tea still steaming next to me and frost on the leaded glass window that’s barely keeping out the chill. I’m in the countryside in a little village that’s oh-so-Bridget-Jones. You might remember Isham?
I’m thankful I have truly awesome WiFi for the first time since Genoa but my thoughts are a minefield right now. I’m winded from a year of almost completely full time travel that has taken its toll. The October through December that I just summarized is not even a bit unlike the first 6 months of my 2012. Read: Manic-Monday-Every-Day. I’m overwhelmed from trying to create the future I want because I get asked every day what my plan is and my usual just-keep-moving isn’t gonna cut it anymore. I’m apprehensive because the future I really want isn’t going to be easy to make happen. And I’m a bit bruised because some of the risks I took these last few months have left me broken in a way that can’t be fixed with my trusty duct tape.

If the Mayans are right and our world ends when 2012 does…I’ll be going out with a bang in my final new location of the year: Edinburgh. But I can’t think that far ahead, yet, my head is still spinning and I’m still waking up and falling asleep at odd hours. I think it’s time to put things in a drawer for a bit, let the suitcase gather dust and write longer stories about all the adventures I’ve only just summarized, accompanied by skads of pretty pictures.

Are you ready to read them? If you simply can’t wait, check out the tips I’ve been uploading as I go, on AFAR.



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  • http://www.novacationrequired.com Caanan @ No Vacation Required

    We hardly scratched the surface the other day, it appears. Wishing you a 2013 with as much adventure as your 2012 but with an equal dose of peace!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Haha! Yeah, I never told you about that first saucy bit did I…. It’s not all been bad ;)

      Hoping we get to catch up IN PERSON in 2013. Though I do always look forward to our Skype chats.

  • http://twitter.com/GetACarHire GetACarHire

    Genoa looks all the more beautiful through your pictures!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you so much! I appreciate that. More photos of Genoa coming soon :)

  • Sofie @ Wonderful Wanderings

    Wow what a couple of months have you experienced! I hope you got to enjoy all of it, because it seems like you’ve had to rush from time to time. Great though, that you’ve had (and taken) the opportunity to do all of those things!

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      This year has been the most rushed and frantic I’ve ever had. But yes, I have had some of the happiest moments of my life this year. I am so truly grateful for what I’ve been blessed with even as I am needing to slow down a bit.

  • Transplanted Tatar

    Wow, a kaleidoscope of colors, thoughts, and places–if the Mayans are right, a good way to go indeed.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      Thank you! I’m very grateful for every experience I’ve had this year. Even if it’s been exhausting, it’s certainly been incredible.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1323744626 Alexandra Pucherelli

    Ahh that worn down full time traveler feeling. I know it well. People often think your off gallivanting around having the best of times, which your are mostly, but it’s hard for them to comprehend the little pleasure of sleeping in the same spot for a week and unpacking your bag. Lovely pics as always ;) I have a crazy 6 months of travel ahead of me but who knows maybe our paths can cross again! Still sad we missed each other in Morocco.

    • http://www.aviatorsandacamera.com/ Kirsten Alana

      I knew you would understand what I’ve described! Particularly after just having also been in Morocco!

      I’m sad we missed each other there as well. But hopefully 2013 will bring another chance to meet :)

  • http://twitter.com/colbycohen45 Colby Cohen

    OMG! you do a lot of travelling.. I envy you. I’m planning to have Morocco travel adventure this year on my summer vacation. I want to see and experience the goodness of Morocco. :)

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