Serious travel blogs?
What’s that supposed to mean?
Well, I guess it means ‘serious’ in the sense of exploring the issues which I’m inevitably confronted with when I travel. I’m an issues person and I´m also a sceptic, never taking anything at its face value.
One of my great passions is to meet strangers and hear their stories. To question them, to dig deep. At the same time, travel encourages me to be introspective about my own cultural background.
My travelling began as a child when my father was in the Royal Australian Air Force and was continually on the move, from Europe and the Mediterranean to remote places in Australia.
But it really took off after I met my Dutch partner Anya in Indonesia in 1980 and we travelled overland across northern India.
Our life together has been rather unconventional. We both have dual citizenship and passports. She is Dutch-Australian, so to speak, whilst I am Australian-Dutch. In some ways, she is more Australian than me. She loves her AFL and cricket and picks up Aussie expressions quickly. In some ways I am more Dutch than her. I have written a PhD about the Dutch political system and am enthusiastic about the Dutch ‘middle way’ capitalism and the liberal freedoms which have made that country unique in the world. We are different people who hardly ever agree with another but enjoyed our differences and have many things in common, such as a love of classical music and, travel.
Until 2020 and the arrival of Covid, we lived alternatively in Rotterdam, The Netherlands, and Adelaide, South Australia, moving back and forth and in between, spending long periods of Somewhere Else.
The journeys we have been on have varied enormously. For over 20 years we regularly went trekking in the Indian Himalaya, carrying all our own equipment and supplies and following villagers’ traditional trails. When those trails disappeared (due to mass tourism, Indian as well as foreign), we began doing long bike rides in Europe and Australia. And in between, innumerable bus and train trips in Asia, Europe, and Northern Africa. Sometimes our journeys were short in terms of distance – a bike trip to Belgium for example – but the distance was irrelevant. It was the act of moving, of experiencing a different place and different people, of changing our environment, which was important for us. In short, being dual citizens, belonging to two of the most privileged western nations in the world, is by and large a matter of convenience. In reality, we are citizens – that is, if ‘citizenship’ means anything – of the world.
To earn enough money to continue travelling, Anya and I have done a wide variety of jobs including teaching English, but one consistent means of earning money is translating (Dutch to English). When we began translating during the 1980’s it meant having to stay put in Rotterdam: to live for a fixed time in one place and then, when we wanted to travel again, to break our contacts with our customers and later, when we were back in Rotterdam, to have to start all over again. The translations were typed out and sent via speed post. During the late 1990’s, rapid changes in technology transformed the translation business. With arrival of the internet, the laptop, the notebook, the memory stick and Wi-Fi, the translator was no longer required to remain in the place where the projects originated. A translator could work anywhere in the world. Modern technology radically changed the possibilities for combining work and travel and those changes were ideal for us.
During 2019, we had spent time in Spain, Italy, Chile and the Canary Islands and in between going on bike rides in The Netherlands and Germany. In January 2020, we flew from Amsterdam to Adelaide with the intention of staying a few months in a rented holiday house near a beach and doing some swimming before flying to Beijing and taking a train to North Korea. But our plans were suddenly nullified by the arrival of the insidious Covid pandemic. Within a month, it seemed bizarre that we had ever had such a plan. The new normal was not leaving your immediate area, let alone your country. Crossing borders, which had been second nature for us for decades, was suddenly relegated to the past. The Australian government prohibited anyone from leaving the country. Over the last two years, Anya and I have been on walking and bike trips in South Australia and in the meantime, bought a small house 80 kilometers outside of Adelaide near the beach. In the future this will serve as a base for us in Adelaide and being five minutes from a good swimming beach.
We are now vaccinated and hoping shortly, at the end of this summer, to be back in Rotterdam and able to travel to the nations of Europe.
Our place of abode in Rotterdam:
And South Austalia
‘It’s the act of moving, of experiencing a different place and different people, of changing our environment, which is important for us….’