hitchhiking, pilgrims, Paris, struggling with belief systems + values, + Amsterdam

20120826-100506.jpg

We have all been there.. Riding the crest of the wave, life is flowing beautifully, you know which direction you’re heading and things feel good.

Then suddenly, you blink for a moment and life throws you a curve ball. Now things are not going quite the way you’d like, your values and beliefs are being challenged and you become aware of resistance to what is happening build up within you.

This is an exercise in letting go of control, finding a new balance and harmony and way for your life to flow. It’s an opportunity to grow, and learn and become better and stronger. It’s the world waking you up again a little, shaking you and asking “Did you get a little too comfortable? Are you still following your bliss?”

This is where I’ve been the last month or so. I’ve been travelling which is normally a relaxing, fulfilling and inspiring experience for me, however this time it’s more of a challenge. A challenge of where I stand within my beliefs and values, and what is actually true for me. A challenge to walk my talk and take things a little deeper. A challenge to find joy in the curve ball, to embrace when things go differently than I would prefer. A challenge to be more accepting, let go of control but simultaneously speak out what I need and want, and to follow my heart.

It’s not been easy, as I struggle from time to time with what I feel to be true. My mind and heart are making me more aware that I need to be more present, more connected at all times in order to make good choices for myself. I know this lesson well and appreciate learning it again at this time when I clearly need to.

Clearly, as with all of life, travelling is as much a spiritual journey as it is a physical one. The two are never separated.

I promised to keep you updated with my movements so here is what I’ve been up to:

In Lisbon I decided, along with a friend, that we would go and see some friends in Amsterdam, an adventurous jaunt through 5 countries in Europe; Portugal, Spain, France, Belgium and then the Netherlands. And that we would hitchhike. The last time I lived in Europe about 5 years ago I used to hitchhike quite a lot. It’s safe, easy and socially accepted and I often quickly made it through parts of Spain, France and Italy very quickly.

This time our attempts of hitch hiking proved more challenging. Whether it was because I was hitching with a boy or because Portugal isn’t familiar with giving lifts to strangers I do not know, but having discussed the perils of hitching in Portugal with other travellers in hindsights whom expressed the same difficulty, we settled at the fact that it’s not so common in this country.

We made it from Lisbon to the holy town of Fatima in about a day and a half, only about 215 kilometres, where we decided to change our tactics. Surreptitiously, we happened to arrive in Fatima on a day where thousands of pilgrims come together from throughout Europe to celebrate and pray to the Virgin Mary. I believe that everything happens for a reason, not being either religious nor having planned to be in this city at this time, and we decided to stay for a couple of days and take in the religious ambience and beauty. It was really very stunning to see over 10,000 people gather around the huge cathedral, hear the choir and organ echo across the wide piazza and be enchanted with the many voices melting together as they speak their prayers. Wishing for peace and love and harmony for themselves, their families and the world. All by the light of a candle held by each person, flickering gently in the warm summer breeze.

Then it was off to Paris, this time by bus. It was the only mode of transport from Fatima possible and it gave us plenty of time to enjoy the passing landscapes. We arrived in Paris 24 hours later in Porté de Bagnolet in the east of Paris and stayed in the wonderfully chic and edgy Mama’s Shelter hotel, more of which I will tell you about another time. All I can say is that I highly recommend staying in this funky, fascinating and creative hotel chain which is opening up more places in Los Angeles, Singapore and London. After a good nights rest, incredibly fantastic food with a breakfast buffet selection that makes you want to never leave, off we went to play tourists for the day and visit the endearing and beautiful feats of architecture,mart and culture that this city, unlike any other, has to offer. On our second and final night in Paris, we were very warmly and generously hosted by a friend, making us realise that, no matter how beautiful and amazing a hotel, nothing compares to staying with kind, loving and generous people in a real home.

The final leg of this trip was also by bus, from Paris to Amsterdam. The journey is always equal to arriving at a destination, something that I secretly adore, as I love being in-between places. It gives me a feeling of adventure and that anything could happen. We arrived in Amsterdam late on a Friday evening, the city was already in full party mode, with drunk English, Irish and Dutch at every street corner keeping the night alive with their antics. I have been in this incredible city a week, exploring the many canals, alley ways and streets filled with unusual and fascinating art and design and am now in the beautiful town of Haarlem, staying with a very sweet, kind and insightful friend of mine whom I met in India some years ago, Linda.

I’ll be returning to Amsterdam tomorrow and what is next after that is up to the travel Gods! To follow my travelling adventures more closely come join me on Instagram at @vienda_m, it’s such a fun way to connect and keep in touch!

2 Responses to hitchhiking, pilgrims, Paris, struggling with belief systems + values, + Amsterdam

  1. Come and play in the world of travels when you can love! Who knows we may see each other in some foreign and exotic location x