From Alice Springs I caught a flight to Adelaide and then over to Dubai before finally arriving in Barcelona 30 hours later. It is longer but with the time difference, they say 30 hours. Australia is ahead of Europe by 9-10 hours so it was more like 40 hours really but hey ho, I made it back to this side of the world. I left Friday morning and didn’t arrive in Barcelona until the next day. It was all well worth it though because I would get the chance to see and spend time with my sister, Seema. As I have been on the road, I was unable to spend time with her on her birthday. We met up last year but it was in June and we didn’t celebrate her birthday together. Thus, this year I was adamant that I wanted to take out the time to see her and to do whatever she had in mind for her 29th birthday.
Celebrating friends and family members birthday’s are important especially, Seema’s birthday. She is my best friend, sister and person. Thus, it is important to me to make sure she understands how much she means to me but also for her to see and celebrate how amazing she is. We get too busy sometimes in life to take out the time to appreciate how special or great we are. So, I take it upon myself to ensure that Seema is aware of this. When we have something or someone special, it is our responsibility to preserve, look after and celebrate it/them. Nothing lasts forever so we owe it to ourselves to make the most the moment, relationship and time we have. Better to do something now, say something now then to regret it later.
Whilst I know, 29 is not a big birthday say like a 21st or a 30th birthday, it was a big birthday for me because I missed the last three. The other significant factor for me was the location. Neither of us nor my brother -in-law had been to Spain prior to this. Sure, we were born and raised in London and whilst I have many friends who have explored Barcelona and Madrid, we had not prior to this trip. I have yet to venture up to Scotland, Belgium and to the Netherlands. I feel sometimes, given the close proximity, I failed to prioritise these countries, not because they lack in culture or adventure but rather because I know I could pop over anytime. I am very conscious that given I can go half way around the world and explore Australia for a second time, I should take the train up to Scotland.
Given that I was fortunate enough to travel with Seema and her husband, Joshil, I knew we would enjoy our time in Barcelona. They are not one to opt for hostels, they steer clear of these and instead veer towards a hotel or air bnb. We are all different and whilst I am now comfortable and used to hostel living, I don’t expect this to be everyone’s cup of tea. I try and cram things into my day especially when I know that I don’t have much time in any given city but again this is not for everyone. Those of whom who are on a break or more a holiday want to take their time and enjoy a late brunch by the seafront which is wonderful but not always possible for a backpacker. Time and money is of the essence and just because something sounds good, doesn’t mean that in practice, it will be good.
For us backpackers, it is about trying to stretch our money in addition to our experiences. Any money which we save is spent on another experience and/or trip. Money spent on new experiences, bus journey’s and/or museum’s, is money well spent in my eyes. Money spent on flash hotels, expensive meals and materialistic items, not so much. I have never had the urge, in the last three years, to splash the cash on ridiculously priced tours, hotels or goods. I don’t purchase designer goods unless I’m buying a gift for Seema. I don’t own or intend to own shoes worth £600, I struggle to understand why somebody would but each to their own. Spending that amount of money on items which I do not need or care for, brings me no joy. Sure, for years, I was a compulsive shopaholic and nothing or no-one could keep me from shopping. But thankfully, these last three years of being on the road has changed this.
As a backpacker, it is next to impossible to shop and carry large amounts of stuff. Whilst, I have posted boxes home, these boxes compromised of gifts and souvenirs as opposed to designer labels. I posted these things home to give away to friends and family members for the most part. Designer labels were never attractive to me and this didn’t change with my travels. I would much rather save this money and spend it on a experience, on a plane ticket or volunteering overseas. I would rather be in debt or broke due to all the travelling I was fortunate enough to do then due to consumerism. In my eyes, those of us who are fortunate enough to travel, to explore cities and to immense in different cultures are far richer than those own a Gucci handbag but have never travelled. Travelling, in my opinion, offers a rich experience and those of us who embark on this venture are left wealthier in more ways than one. Sure, we may have nothing tangible to show for our trip but we hold memories that are far greater than any designer bag.
I respect and understand the need some people have to shop and to consume however, I am no longer there. We are all different and I celebrate these differences with enthusiasm but I refuse to join the forever growing consumeristic society we live in. I don’t judge or pass comment on people owning and wanting another designer bag or watch or pair of shoes but at the same token, I do not wish to be judged for not sharing such interests. Live and let live – for those of whom who are happy to spend their time and money in a shopping mall all day, go ahead but for those of us who want to explore a city in a day, on a budget, let’s get planning. Whatever floats your boat and hey it maybe both.