Bilbo’s Goin’ on an Adventure!

Hey, I’m going to Europe, or at least I’m trying to. They might just throw me out on my face when I step into the airport. 

So I’m going to do a travel blog. 

So, (as nobody in the world has tried starting a travel blog with) let’s first think about a quote from Ecclesiastes, AKA the “ancient depressed king’s guide to life” as one guy on the internet once put it. Now, I don’t have a lot of use for bible quotes, but there is one quote from that old book that I often think about. 

“All the rivers run into the sea, yet the sea is not full, unto the place from whence the rivers come, thither they return again.”

In my mind, this quote speaks of a kind of futility, that such cycles continue perpetually yet will never find fulfillment. If you’re more optimistic, you could look at it with a sense of wonderment, that there is joy to watch such endless, repetitive cycles. Perhaps you can take up Camus’ interpretation of Sisyphus, that one can find happiness in the struggle to find meaning in meaninglessness. 

Isn’t this supposed to be about travel? Well considering how much I’ve had to study different countries’ entry requirements, I’ve basically become a scholar of many esoteric edicts. Fear God and keep his commandments, indeed, especially if those commandments are getting a PCR test three days before entry.

So after enough time of spinning your wheels, of watching the waters flow into a sink that never overfills, why not do something completely different? Why not backpack Europe during an ongoing pandemic? At least, that’s what I told myself that hot, sticky night I bought my plane tickets to Paris on what I can only describe was a massive, blind whim.

But I don’t just want to write about landmarks, I want to touch on the lives of those still searching for a way forward after COVID-19.

Because people who lived through this pandemic either went through the doldrums of quarantine, of missed birthdays and endless hours at home, or they went through hell. You only have to talk to the medical professionals who worked in the hospitals to know the real cost of a worldwide pandemic. They saw death, endless death, and the feeling they were so often helpless in the face of constant calamity. I think there is something profound about how so many people who worked in hospitals continue around with a brave face. There is something else there, something they won’t tell me even as a friend or a confidant. It is the same thing with soldiers. They will only talk about their trauma with each other, with those who lived through the same thing. How could anyone else possibly understand?

Meanwhile, so many governments and powerful people can only think of one thing, returning to how things were before. It’s why places like France are doing everything they can to emphasize travel, when around 10% of their GDP relies on tourism.

I want to know who else are, like me, escaping their world to expand their lives in ways they dared not before the pandemic. I want to see stores cracking open doors and peering through the portal with one eye to finally witness their surroundings. I want to see if people are finding ways to continue forward, or are they just looking to go back to how things were before. 

On June 24 I’m going to try and make it to Paris, France. I’m going the backpacking route, but it’s going to be much more complicated than it was before COVID. France requires I be two weeks from inoculation. Just recently the country dropped the need for me to have a negative PCR test, so that’s handy.

After France, I have designs on Spain. Then I plan to make it to Greece, somehow. After that I have to find a way to get to Denmark. So I’m crossing borders and flying or swimming if I have to, all the while avoiding those countries that require me to quarantine. And then travel requirements might change at the drop of the hat. 

So let’s see what happens. I plan to upload another update before I’m expected to board, and then at least every three days once I get to where I’m going. Expect me to be posting pictures and other thoughts to my blog and Instagram.

Let’s see how many rivers we can find, shall we?

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