“A journey is best measured in friends, rather than miles”
… About how ‘Bea embarca en Barca’, friends and the new forms of travel…
This post is a bit unusual and more personal. I’m in a reflective mood. It’s late… It’s late in the night and it’s late (or about time) for my next article. I have been busy reorganizing my life (once again)… So this article is dedicated to all my friends around the world, all the amazing and interesting people I met on my travels and to all of you out there who read my blog, with an apology for letting you wait…
I’m in New York right now. My favorite city! Sitting at the floor-to-ceiling window of my friend’s apartment and contemplating the Hudson River and the skyscrapers in front of me. Amazing! I love floor-to-ceilings. There are not too many of those in Europe…
Since I was last telling you about Hong Kong and Taiwan a lot happened in my life. I have been traveling through New Zealand when someone who read my blog offered me a job back in Europe. I would have to move to Barcelona for that deal, he said. Hmmm…Barcelona is not Valencia but at the same time it still is Spain and I left Valencia with no compromises (with my belongings in a friend’s house)…So yeah why not trying!? Coming back though Singapore (plus spending again some time in my beloved Bali), I landed in London, stayed a bit with my friends, went to see my family in Germany and collecting my stuff from Valencia I found myself living in Barcelona! : )
Life is working out in funny ways sometimes. You work for years on your career. Have a presentable CV and at one point no one is looking at your diplomas and degrees anymore. You get a job offered because someone knows someone and that someone likes your blog. Well, I can’t complain! I like my new job.
Barcelona is a lovely place and I owe you a separate article about the capital of Catalonia. Coming up very soon! Also pending is Singapore, New Zealand and of course the big apple. Already taking notes for an article about ‚my NYC’.
But tonight I would like to share some thoughts with you. Earlier this evening I was discussing with my dear friend and my host the different forms of friendships. There are those who come and go and those who last a life long. It’s like in that beautiful little story of ‘the train of life’…
There are friends who go with you through a specific period of time, like for example an internship abroad, and when this time is over they either stay in your life, disappear or ‚fade away’. Some friends might fade away for a while but then they come back into shape at a later stage of your life. With some friends you share your daily life and with others you only catch up from time to time (usually when visiting the city they live in). Some friends you don’t see or speak for a longer time and when you see them again it’s like you saw them yesterday. Time doesn’t make a difference to the quality of your relation. I love those friends. I remember once a very close friend was visiting me in a new city and instead of catching up we were both trying to unclog the drain in my new apartment. That’s real friendship! No false pretences!
Why am I talking about friends? Because they are linked to my travels. And today when walking across the streets of NYC I was thinking about how local I feel wherever I go and that it’s not only a matter of my character but also thanks to the progress in technology and above all, thanks to the people I met on my journeys…
In every city and country I lived for a longer or shorter period of time I left dear people behind and I am very thankful to live in times where technology gives us all the opportunities to stay in touch. Thanks to Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Skype and Co. we are talking part in our friends lives even if we are geographically not always present.
Although Millennials are the pioneers to use their smartphones as a remote control of their lives I’m observing that me and my contemporaries belonging to the Gen X also love having an App for all areas of our daily life. Especially while traveling! We book Airbnb via our smartphones, we don’t print our boarding passes anymore but keeping them in Passbook Wallet, push up notifications are telling us to go to gate while we are at the airport… When landed we take an Uber to get to the accommodation, while posting on Facebook where we are. We capture moments with our phones and post them on Instagram. We listen to music on Spotify while discovering a new city and Foursquare announcing our iWatch that we just passed a lovely pub, remembering us, it’s ‘Cocktail o’clock’.
We live in a multichannel, multi-device world. Still remember the times where the was NO smartphones? Not even mobile phones or Internet?! Not possible to imagine for the Millennials but the reality of my Generation… And yet my mindset has adjusted so quickly that I now feel ‘naked’ when my iPhone is not within reach! With that little thing in your pocket everything and everyone you need is a quick tap away. No matter where they (or you) are. The way we shop, research information, connect with friends and move around has been forever changed.
The way of traveling changed massively in the last couple of years. Thanks to Google Maps and now Google Travel we can easily plan our trips ‚on the go’. Honestly, who needs a travel agent nowadays? Ok, maybe the OTAs are still interesting to book hotels ‘from one hand’ (usually in form of an App).
The hotels of today have to brace themselves against alternative accommodation models like Airbnb, VBRO, HomeAway etc. Today’s travelers are seeking authenticity not ‘just’ commodity. Our growing expectations towards made-to-measure products and personalised service are changing the travel industry. Our society is shifting from collecting goods to collecting moments and memories!
With all the opportunities which come along we now have the possibility to be more mobile than ever. The number of digital nomads is growing quickly. As we have less and less home base, the hotels often become our ‘homes’! Especially among young people (without family) the hype towards ‘living on the go’ is growing. Why do we need a car if we have Uber? Why do we need a TV at home if we have Netflix? Why do we need a house if we have Airbnb – a house in each and every destination!? And we can ‘change the furniture’ constantly without paying for renovation (by simply changing the apartment). Airbnb-like concepts offering ‘homes away from home’ and ‘lifestyle living’ are the answer to the phenomenon of working-while-traveling. Co-working spaces are popping up all over the globe and concepts such as ‘extended stay housing’ are the new pendant to the former traditional hotel. The guest is not only booking a room and a bed but a whole living space, where he works, eats, drinks, does sport, interacts with people and… finds friends!
Are you familiar with the term ‘bleisure’? It is also one of the phenomenons of our days… With all the options and possibilities we start to see changes in corporate culture with new alternative business models and people working more independently, remotely or project-based. We can talk to our clients, colleagues and superiors on Skype. We can share Google Documents and submit information within minutes and seconds via diverse platforms across the globe. Who needs to sit in the office nowadays if he can efficiently have the job done from his boat cruising the world (as long as he has wifi) !? With those conditions we started a trend of combining our business trips with our leisure (=bleisure). Going for a conference to Miami and staying a few days longer, spending time with your cousin, while working remotely? No problem in 2016!
I guess the fact that more travelers blend business and leisure into bleisure trips, also comes from the fact that the work ethic changed too and we now enter quicker than ever into more personal relationships with our work relatives. Our colleagues in other offices around the world become our friends after a few visits to their city and a few post-meeting drinks… Our clients (or even potential clients) become our friends, after those yearly repetitive conferences. Especially in the tourism industry where people live from traveling it is very easy to get close to someone’s heart. You know, that summit in Mexico’s mountains and that crazy rafting experience, followed by a jungle walk and a Tequila evening?..Yeah, YOU know exactly what I mean…; )
And what is a better way to discover a new destination if not on the side of a local who takes us under his wing showing us the city and inviting us to his place, cooking a traditional, regional meal and presenting us to his family? We get storytelling about their destination, their heritage and traditions, build REAL relations and leave their house with tips and suggestions for personal, off-the-beaten-track experiences.
The motto of our travels and our lifestyles (since travelling IS our lifestyle) is ‘living like a local’ and we quickly find friendships among the natives in a new destination we are visiting or live temporary. Local and personal is important to us. We seek authenticity and we collect experiences. You know those moments where you sit in a Spanish countryside cooking Paella with friends after the recipe of their granny while she is telling you stories about when she was young and in love with than one gentleman? Those special moments which make life worth living…
Ever danced in the rain in Bangkok? Run barefoot through the rice fields of Bali with a Guru performing spiritual rituals, praying to stones? Ever attended an Indonesian traditional wedding? Driven through the streets of Havana in a friends oldtimer, listening to the Son? Ever danced at midnight of a fullmoon-night with other ‘witches’ of Mallorca? Went fishing at night-time with friends in France? Dined in the Palazzo Reale with the mayor of Milan and in Gothenburg with the Scandinavian minister of Cuba who remembered the stories you told him last year? Lived in silence with the monks in Thailand? Crossed the Tongoriro in New Zealand? Played in a Musical scene in Kuala Lumpur? Drove scooter through half rotten bridges in Laos? Ate with your hands in a house of a Maroccan friend? Spent the night on the side of a local photographer taking pictures of the shooting stars in Malta? Sang along to your friend’s rock concert? Etc. etc….All of that not as a tourist but as a local ?!? Ok, maybe you didn’t do EXACTLY the same things… But I’m sure you know what I mean…! : )
So, what I want to say today is that even if I’m on the move and with less commitment in life than others (no house/mortgage, garden, kids, dogs, cats, cars), I am very committed to my friends and family. They make me happy and make me feel at home wherever I am.
TRAVEL makes me happy and PEOPLE make me happy! So this article is an expression of gratitude to all the PEOPLE I met on my TRAVELS. You are all part of this blog!
(I think many of you can relate to my thoughts…)
Your Friend (to) B.
‘Strangers are friends you haven’t met yet’