At the end of time away: planning for travel home

There is always a waning time at the end of traveling or time away. 

Sometimes it's expectant.  We're wanting to go home, missing our dog and garden. 

An exuberant pocket meadow in August
Other times, it's the sheer overwhelm of the experience that primes the readiness to go home (we've experienced that acutely at the end of a month in India and in Guatemala, even though we're experienced travelers in developing countries and elsewhere all over the world).

Other places, we wished we could stay longer.  There are many places like that, and doing HomeExchanges over the past couple of years has made this particularly true, as we're in a home, not a hotel or guest lodging, and often very pleasant ones, at that.  And the encouragement of being based in one place, rather than moving around, is a different sort of traveling experience, deepening the sense of being local rather than a tourist.

Three to four weeks has been our traveling norm for many years -- long enough to relax and experience the place, but not so long that we start missing home.

We've loved being here in Freiburg and Southern Germany.  We could certainly stay longer here and can see why people like living here.  We'd enjoy it! 

It's been an excellent experience to feel the pace of life in a progressive (and apparently prosperous) university city filled with locals on bikes, seemingly enjoying themselves as they ride to work and school, regional tourists seeing the sights and enjoying the Altstadt, lots of people hiking or biking on trails in the Schwarzwald  --  the quality of life is very nice in our version of being in Freiburg, in a great apartment with easy walking everywhere.

And frankly, we're not seeing the evidence of low-income stress here that's so evident at home.  Yes, there's graffiti, broken bottles, and homeless folks under the bridge.  But, the lack of run-down homes and buildings, decrepit streets, and old beat-up cars -- well, that's a contrast to our mountain city in North Carolina. Americans, I think, don't always realize how conditions in our cities, towns, and countryside compare to many other places in the developed world.  And I'm always mindful of the contrast between the lives that many of us enjoy, compared to many other parts of the world.  I'm remembering seeing the women in Tanzania in the Crater Highlands, who walked for many miles to get clean water, to bring back in incredibly large carboys on their backs.  (We had "escaped" from our camping safari cook, in the absence of our guide, and had walked to a government town where we weren't supposed to be).

And in a more banal way, traveling encourages self-reflection as well, simply by contrasts to the familiar routines of "regular" life;  so preparing to return home, I'm thinking, why not walk to the grocery stores that are 10 minutes away, instead of driving?  And I do have a bike again, too -- thanks to the trails in Parc National du Bic.  I can be riding on the greenways, which are being extended all over town. And why not go have coffee at one of the local shops now and then, and observe the scene, even if I can have perfectly nice coffee at home?  And why not start hiking more local trails, in addition to my "normal" neighborhood walks?

We'll have one more day in Freiburg, then a weekend in Frankfurt: the contrast of visiting a large German city that's not necessarily always on tourist destination lists, but that is an important city here, will be interesting.  Lots of good museums to visit on Sunday.

Hurricane Florence is on our mind -- it'll be hitting North Carolina in the time between when we leave here and when we get home.


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