Why do I love travelling? Well, I guess it’s because I’m addicted - and have been since I was a teenager. I’m now a recycled teenager, retired, but still hooked on all things foreign!
My addiction started at secondary school, where I thoroughly enjoyed being taught French by a Welshman (alas, like Mark Twain, when I’m in France I still fail to make those idiots understand their own language!)
. My favourite lesson was always geography, where Mr King brought to life the wonders of the world. One day, my English teacher mentioned that she spent her summer vacations travelling abroad; in the lunch break, she proudly showed me her passport with every page covered in immigration stamps bearing exotic names that I’d only seen in an atlas. The seed was sown.
On leaving school in the early-sixties, when overseas travel was still very much in its infancy, I started work as a clerk in a holiday company. My first journey, at the age of 17, was to the Aegean Islands of Greece: by train to Athens - three days there and four days back - and then by ferries to Mykonos, Delos, Tinos, Paros, Naxos and other islands whose names probably ended in ‘os’ too. The seed had germinated.
Over the next 35 years, that seed grew into something which filled every part of my being. I couldn’t wait for my next ‘fix’ of foreign air - and still can't. I've been fortunate to visit countless countries; how fortunate was only brought home to me recently while preparing for my seventh visit to India (India - again?
). Every country has its own character, language, food, religion, even smell. And, on the way there, while there, and on the way back, I can spend time with interesting people and see wonderful things that others might only ever see in books or on television. I’ve experienced the hospitality and sometimes hostility of the local populous, shared their joy or sadness, and learnt as much about myself as about them. Travel has opened doors to my knowledge, showed me that my comfortable life isn't shared by everyone on this planet, and it's given me some great tales to dine on for years to come!
I get withdrawal symptons if I have to spend six months in my home country without even a few days abroad. Now, where did I put that Rough Guide...?