Monday, February 11, 2008

Europe--Love is harder the second year around

At the beginning of this month, we visited Vienna--our first time in Vienna, but our second time in Austria. (We were there in November of 2006 in Salzburg). Back then, I sang along like any other joyful and amazed tourist on the Sound of Music tour, admired the fortress on the hill, and took in a touristy Mozart Dinner concert. All without one thought of, well, boredom.

Fast forward 14 months to Vienna. I liked Vienna--any city that loves and supports classical music has my admiration. But it wasn't love at first sight. And I don't know if any other European city can be any more. Because I'm tainted. I've been to 12 European countries so far (see visual of countries visited), many of them several times. I am no longer easily impressed by Europe. And this makes me sad.

It used to be any sighting of a huge gothic cathedral or a palace gave me goosebumps. But when I saw the cathedral in Vienna, I just thought: it's dirty. And it's dark.

When I saw the Hofburg palace, I thought, well, it looks just like most European palaces. And then I felt mean for being so critical. Shouldn't I be swept away by its beauty? Shouldn't I be taking 20 pictures of it from every angle like the other tourists surrounding me?

I feel guilty for not loving Vienna more. And it's really bringing me down.

According to my husband, I need to accept who I've become instead of fighting it. According to him, I've become a well-traveled person. I need to think of it as a good thing that I'm no longer amazed and impressed by everything. Because it means I've seen a lot. Learned a lot. Become a more educated and well-rounded person.

But somehow for me, that's not an easy thing to embrace. I don't want to be a person that's apathetic. I don't want to be a person that's bored. That always thinks, "Big deal, I used to live right below a 10th century castle."

My husband has a business trip to Athens in a couple weeks. He wants me to come along for the weekend. But I don't know if I want to. Because I've been to Athens. And somehow, I feel like the second time around won't have the same magic. I don't want to be there thinking, "Oh yeah, there's that Acropolis again."

But maybe I need to look at it from another viewpoint--one that says that I'll see the real town I missed on my first trip when my camera was an permanent attachment to my body. That this time I'll notice the people instead of the postcards.

So maybe travel is more interesting the second time around. I just have to convince myself of that. And fast. Before we decide the heck with Europe. Let's go to China.


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