It’s been 10 years since I took my first flight overseas. I could never have imagined back then, that in the years to follow, my wanderlust would take me as far and wide as it did. It’s been a dream in motion, and continues to be so. Today, I’ll take a look back at my 10 years of overseas travel, but start where it began.
The first flight
My very first flight was a domestic flight from Joburg to Durban in 1989 (I was 5 years old). It was sponsored by my dad’s company as he was being honoured at an awards ceremony. Floating above the clouds for the first time is a vivid experience. And I didn’t experience it again for another 16 years. But during that time, I recall getting postcards and gifts from my uncle as he travelled for work. I looked forward to the day of being grown up and being able to travel.
My first overseas trip (2005)
It was my final year at university and I somehow managed to convince my mum to send me (alone) to London, where my cousin was temporarily working . Rushing to get a passport, I was booked on an Emirates flight from Joburg to Gatwick via Dubai. It was 21 June 2005. Looking back, I’m surprised I coped being alone as a first time traveller. I don’t recall any mishaps or being stressed. I may have mimicked fellow passengers (or perhaps it was instinctive). While my cousin was at work during the day, I explored the streets of London. I took trips to Bath, Stonehenge and to see the white cliffs of Dover. I got caught up in the traffic lockdown of the London 7/7 bombings. I explored and I experienced. A new chapter of my life began.
A journey of a lifetime (2005/2006)
A few weeks after returning from London, my parents (who never really had much opportunity to travel), mentioned that they would like to do a pilgrimage and I was to join them. It was a dream come true and remains an inspirational journey.
Move to Cape Town (2006)
The next year I put my university skills to use and moved to Cape Town to start work. Suddenly, I was travelling often between the coast and the Highveld, contributing to the JNB-CPT route being one of the world’s busiest routes. I explored more of South Africa, which ingrained my love for my country, and which despite having travelled to more modern, efficient, stable countries, I would find it difficult to leave this beauty behind.
As the years went by I started travelling more frequently. I started in Egypt with the dusty Giza plains to see the pyramids being encroached by sprawling Cairo. I sailed down the Nile, loving the 40-degree plus heat.
A few months later, I walked across the Petronas towers in Kuala Lumpur, and then went island hopping in Langkawi, on Malaysia’s western coast. I preferred Changi Airport more than Singapore itself.
I went back to Europe and was impressed with the artistic vibe in Berlin and the history come to life in Prague’s buildings. I dined at Hotel Sacher in Vienna for their famous torte and cruised the River Danube in Budapest. Belgian chocolate lived up to its glory in Brussels and Deutsche Bahn’s efficient railway took me speeding through Luxembourg and the Rhine Valley.
Having being in transit at it’s mega airport many times, this was my only visit to Dubai itself. It lacked its own character (but had outstanding engineering showpieces). From there I explored the medinas of Fez and Marrakech and went on a camel safari in the red dunes of the Sahara. Morocco remains a treasured experience for me.
Just before the soccer craze of 2010, I explored Turkey at the junction where East meets West. Living the history from Constantipole to Istanbul, exploring the fairy like chimneys of Cappadocia, and the scenic coast on the Aegean Sea, Turkey was magical.
At the start of the Arab Spring, I took a chance of visiting the Middle East. The quiet demonstrations in Damascus gave little clue to what was happening or about to happen in the rest of Syria. The biblical references came to life in Jordan and the West Bank. And time stood still in the alleyways of Jerusalem’s old city.
Closer to home, I was soaked in the spray of the mighty Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe, and watched elephants swim in Botswana’s Chobe River. The next year, in 2012 I saw the vast salt pan at Namibia’s Etosha with its teeming wildlife and took a road trip through the desert dunes of the Namib.
India, with its romanticised monuments and palaces, spicy food and colourful shopping captured me to return a few years later. The Taj Mahal is truly a “teardrop on the cheek of time”.
I returned to western cultures when I travelled through Europe in the summer. I joined locals on an evening bike run through the streets of Munich and touched snow for the first time in Innsbruck, Austria. I had rosti’s in a Swiss village at the foot of Europe’s tallest mountains (which came with a jaw dropping bill).
Last year I was on a work assignment in Sydney and got a chance to also visit New Zealand and Fiji. This Facebook status captures my wanderlust:
My Facebook status when I returned from Sydney
Dreams can be fulfilled when you least expect. The big game parks of East Africa seemed like wishful thinking, but I told myself, “Why not?” And off we went to Tanzania seeing the start of the great migration and the predators that follow them on the plains of the Serengeti.
It’s only half way through 2015, and apart from work in Germany, I returned to India to experience Kashmir and the north east. The Andalusian region in Spain was my latest overseas trip, experiencing the Moorish and Iberian influences.
Wanderlust doesn’t end
10 years ago, I could never have imagined that I’d see so much of the world already. I’m grateful and am often left expressing glory at the One who has created such variety and made it all possible. All it takes is a bit of effort and lot of passion to fulfil your wanderlust.