My Anniversary

So, I’ve lived here for a year now. I’ve had less money than I would like, so I haven’t done/seen/tasted as many things as I want to, but I’ve wandered and explored and seen quite a lot. This map represents the limits of my wanderings so far: the furthest I’ve gone on foot, then turned around and come home (although I have, of course, traveled further by bus and train and whatnot).

Roermond Walking

I did blog about my walk to Germany, but haven’t yet blogged about Asselt, which is an adorable little town in the top center of this image.

I love going for walks in the mornings. It’s summer, so it’s not yet hot, and the birds are very active (the swallows are extremely noticeable lately). Shopkeepers are out sweeping their sidewalks and washing their windows, greeting each other for the morning, and people are drinking coffee or walking their dogs… it all feels very peaceful. Friday this week didn’t feel like a weekday at all; people were already at the cafes and wandering the pedestrian streets in the morning, waiting for stuff to open and to have something fun to do.

I keep thinking to do photo-essays of Roermond: the wonderful mailboxes, the little shrines and niches dotted throughout the city, the public art. There’s so much I mean to do and share, but never quite get to it.

And I am coming up on another anniversary as well. Four years ago I got on a plane in Portland Oregon with a one-way ticket to Frankfurt and no idea what I was going to do. What I did do in 2014 was:

  • Nurnburg
  • Munchen
  • Wroclaw
  • Prague
  • Barcelona
  • Madrid
  • Lisbon
  • Evora
  • Porto
  • A Coruna

Then a confusing mix of bouncing around friends in Amsterdam, Belgium, London, before going back to Prague for Christmas and New Year.

In retrospect (and I didn’t list all the places I only visited for a day or two, like San Sebastian, Berlin, Wien, etc), it was too much in too short a period of time. It was fun and exciting, but I started to get confused about where I was, and the memories run together in my head. Now, I remember specific palaces or monuments or museums, but don’t remember where I was at all. Or I remember very specific events that aren’t very emblematic of the specific place:

  • A huge rainstorm in Madrid while I was at the botanical gardens. Got soaked to the skin. Myself and another guy kept thinking to find a place out of the rain (there wasn’t one) and thinking that a storm so hard had to pass quickly (it didn’t).
  • Graduation night in Porto. A huge parade up the square, which was lined with people, and carts selling snacks and balloons. Small groups of students, all dressed very formally (like law students do in Portugal), looking magnificent, carrying banners and being cheered by everyone. It went on forever, and then there was a big group photo, and then so much hugging and drinking and celebrating.
  • In Wroclaw, I went to Cathedral Island and went into a cathedral (I can’t remember which one; there were so many). I’m not at all Catholic, and out of respect I refrain from lighting candles or doing any of that stuff, but a woman at the entrance with no English at all was very impassioned that I light a candle for Ukraine. It remains the only time I have lit a candle for anything.

So it’s that kind of thing that I remember, in all that weird whirlwind of travel; specific waiters, or people on a train, or cats. I’ve taken the train through Dresden literally dozens of times now, and I know the train station well, and that stunningly beautiful route south of the city, but I can’t remember now why I had to do that particular trip over and over again.

Anyway, all my photos are more-or-less indiscriminately dumped on my Flickr if you want to look through them.

I love it here. I hope I get to stay for a long time.

Edit: After a year of rambling, I have narrowed down my favorite walks around Roermond, which you can read about here.

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