One of the beautiful things about traveling alone is that you dictate nearly all of your schedule. You can fill each day hour by hour or you can embrace the journey as it comes. I would recommend finding balance between both. Today, I found it necessary to rest after two days filled with grand exploring, roaming the city, and visiting museums, lakes, and mountains. Traveling is tiresome. It requires a great deal of energy both mentally and physically, especially in a place where you do not speak the language and are unfamiliar with the cultural norms and geography. Traveling to an unfamiliar place demands intentionality. You will make decisions to feel a sense control, certainty, and direction, where there is little to be found.
The other aspect of intentionality is being aware of what you need to be at your best while on the go. Today, I needed simple, unplanned leisurely activity. My hostel is in located within a local community; it is part of a small neighborhood. Imagine my surprise when the hostel manager invited myself and two other mates to attend the neighborhood gathering that occurs periodically throughout the summer. It was truly reminiscent of my younger days when our neighborhood had block clubs and block parties during the summer months. Music, food, families, and the local school band and choir all gathering to enjoy the company of each other. I was delighted to have shared in such an authentic and joyful gathering with strangers who began to feel more like friends and family.
When I arrived, several hostel mates asked how long I intended to stay in Zurich. I mentioned that I would be here four days and they seemed shocked at first. After explaining my intention for this, they understood why I chose to stay “longer” than most people do that are traveling for a few weeks. I don’t ever want to rush from one place to another to check it off a list. In fact, I’ve spent the day within the community, in small cafes, and embracing the slow-moving, restful pace that I needed to recuperate from the first few days of being here and all the other days leading up to this trip. These are the experiences that I will never forget. Homemade pretzels from the “grandmother” of the neighborhood. The singing and dancing of families. The joyful expressions on everyone’s faces when the middle school band arrived for an exhibition. My own unyielding smile during the entire spectacle.
A great friend of mine, Lisa Hadden, once told me to “Do what feeds your soul.” So far this trip has been just that; finding a deep sense of peace in every decision I’ve made thus far.
I’ve written this while sitting in the small hostel garden where the sun presses itself against the side of the building and there’s just enough foliage to find a cool sanctuary from the warm sun.