A Traveler’s Tales

Hannah - Walnut Creek, California
Entered on February 21, 2008
Age Group: Under 18

What could be better than a space with no leg room, reheated and prepackaged food, and miniscule bathrooms? Not much in my book. I believe in travel. I believe in the feeling of euphoria I receive on stepping out of plane into a completely new country. A country with new customs, cultures, language, and religion, from anything I have ever seen. I would call myself a travel junkie. Whenever I learn about a new country, I put it on my list of countries that I absolutely must visit before I die. Nearly every country is on that list by now. Before I had visited a country outside of the United States, I contented myself by exploring the places of my dreams through books, taking Emily Dickinson’s poem There is no frigate like a book to heart. When I traveled to France and England, my first country outside the US, I knew that this was the life for me. I don’t just want to travel on the well-trodden path, I want to explore alternative places that aren’t often traveled through. My father is much like me in this respect. He also has dreams of visiting places with lifestyles so completely different than our own. Places that make your friends and family ask you “Why would you want to go there?” These kinds of places excite me.

When I visited Turkey with my family in 7th grade, the year we studied about it in school, I was over the moon as we drove past the Hagia Sophia. All I could do was stare at the monolithic structure that looked so small and foreign in the pages of my history book. The beautiful mosaics that plastered the walls of this magnificent building were unlike anything I had ever seen. The same feeling came upon me when I was able to finally see St. Basil’s cathedral, the postmark of Russia. When I walked towards the colorful spires of the famous piece for architecture I wanted to run and jump and shout. How could I have ever imagined that I would be able to see this place that seemed so far away. I know that I probably sound like a travel brochure writer or someone who works for the travel channel, but this is exactly how I feel. How could I explain what it is like to visit an Indian Market in Guatemala, or walk on top of Mayan temples? I can only use the same old adjectives: magnificent, glorious, beautiful, and different.

These places help me to expand my view of the world. When I visit them, I am able to understand what life is like in other places; gain a small view into a different world. One where I don’t belong but where I can visit during the short period I am there. Although I have not been to that many countries, the places I have been to have changed me for the better, and will continue to change me my entire life.