Travel thoughts: Stop and smell the roses

Flowers 1

I’m currently sitting at an airport café in Madrid. It’s 2 at night, and I’m waiting for my early morning flight to Denmark. A good time to reflect on leaving the Spanish capital behind (at least for the near future), and to “print some thoughts out”. A saying goes; “Stop and smell the roses”, which is described at as; “Taking time out of one’s busy schedule to enjoy or appreciate the beauty of life”. And yesterday that’s exactly what I did…

I took a day off from writing to walk around the streets and parks of Madrid to take it all in, before leaving the city that has become a second (and during periods a first) home throughout the last 5 years. A walk that brought me through some of my favourite neighbourhoods like Lavapiés and Malasaña, and naturally also through the wonderful Retiro Park, where I shot the photos for this blog post in the blooming rose garden.

SEE ALSO: Travel thoughts: Life inside a tourist attraction

Flowers 2

In these times of “quick-snap-tourism” and “trying to visit as many different countries as possible”, I have been blessed with the chance to get under the skin of – and to go in depth with – mainly two countries: Wales and Spain. Both of which I have called home for extended periods of time, and fallen in love with.

I believe it’s a gift to have learned how life is lived in different corners of Europe, and in very different locations, like the underdog-capital Cardiff (which just got a major boost by staging the Champions League final). The small village of Trefin, in the National Park of Pembrokeshire on the West Coast of Wales. And the metropolis of Madrid in the heart of Spain. But these places also create a dilemma for me, as my heart is currently split between citylife and life in the countryside – because I really love both. And this makes the choice of where to eventually “settle down” so much harder to make.

SEE ALSO: My hometown(s)

Flowers 3

There is nothing like waking up and taking a walk along the coast of Pembrokeshire, where waves are crashing against the cliffs and wild seals can be spotted in small secluded bays. A pure and high quality of life in my mind. On the other hand, the lovely cafés and the lively neighbourhoods of Madrid, and all it’s culture on offer, is hard to resist too. And then there’s the natural pleasures of being in your home country, close to family and friends.

SEE ALSO: 10 valuable lessons that travelling has taught me

But that’s life right? Full of dilemmas and choices to make. Some harder that others, and while some people often seem to let life make their decisions, I prefer to make my own – but that’s what makes it all difficult. Do you go for security or adventure? We’re all different and we all have our own priorities. And that brings me back to the roses… the one’s to smell, because that’s what it’s all about, how big a cliché it might be. To enjoy the moments we’re in, instead of focusing on what we might not have in the moment. That’s why I had the need for an “appreciation walk” around Madrid yesterday, and where better to get the best of both worlds, nature and citylife, than between the greens and flowers of Retiro.

Flowers 4

Yet another dilemma comes with the territory of travel writing, which is the balance between enjoying the moment and getting work done. Because travel writing isn’t just writing. It’s mostly researching, observing, absorbing, reflecting – and then “printing” the thoughts out on the screen. It’s a blessing and a curse all at once. A blessing that forces you to learn much more about a destination, an attraction or an event, but also a curse that rarely lets you linger in the moment, due to a jam-packed travel-schedule.

SEE ALSO: Travel writing – the pursuit of a passion

Maybe another cliché, the one stating “less is more”, fits in here though? Because you might learn more about a city by sitting on a local square observing life for an hour, than running past monuments and attractions for two?

So no matter where you live, or if you travel or not – don’t forget to smell the roses.

They might be all around you!

By Brian Schæfer Dreyer