Travelling seems to be either movement or waiting.
Waiting at airports. The check-in queue. The security queue. The flight lounge. Waiting for the long flights to finish in order to “do” things.
Then the movement. We’ve had five packed days in California visiting cousins and zipping around Napa Valley, and four days in Edmonton, Canada, staying with friends we haven’t seen for a year who are more like family. It’s been busy but lots of fun.
Yesterday we flew to Victoria on Vancouver Island, and today we visited a Fall Fair, a beautiful harbour, scenic lookouts, and the best coffee I’ve had in a cafe since we left Australia – Ottavio’s if you’re interested.
Back in the Oak Bay Hotel this afternoon our Canadian friends went to their room to rest and my husband went to our room to snore. The cafe, the fire, a good book, and a quiet hour to myself seemed my most appealing option.
I watched the flames flicker and my book lay unopened in my lap. There’s something stilling about fireplaces. I had nowhere to go, nothing I needed to see, no one else to please. I’d stopped moving and wasn’t waiting for anything.
Outside the sun was going down inconsiderately early and the temperature hovered around zero. People hurried past the window in Michelin Man jackets, knitted hats and cheeks raw from the wind.
Inside I snuggled into the checked sofa and my cheeks were flushed from the fire. I cupped a hot mug of English Breakfast, not for the warmth, but for the comfort of warmth.
It occurred to me then that this one still moment contained the whole of Victoria. Not just the warm snug I’d found in front of the fire, but also the tea and the taste of that rich coffee earlier in the day, and the pleasure of being with seldom seen friends. It held the mountain we climbed and the bitter whip of the wind, the mist and the snow capped peaks across the water.
It seems to suggest that true travel mightn’t be, as the word suggests, about movement. Maybe it’s in the still moments, when you step back from all the rushing and doing, that you see what’s around you more clearly. Maybe you need that stillness to give space for the separate elements to cohere into a whole picture of what a place means to you.