It Is Only A Week?
An important reason we decided to undertake this sabbatical was a phenomenon we like to call 'time dilation'. What we find is that when you drop out and disconnect from the regular working world, you also somehow manage to disconnect from Work Time.
When in a Work Time state, you'll find that you experience life in a "it's Monday, it's Friday, it's Monday, it's Friday" pattern. At least one weekend day is full of errands, cursing at the traffic on Lake Road, cleaning the house, weeding the yard, chores. You might spend the other weekend day actually doing something relaxing... or you might not. Then it's Monday. The work week goes really fast actually. It feels like it takes the same amount of time as the weekend, to be fair. Monday and Tuesday sort of bleed together, Wednesday and Thursday become a single day, Friday -- particularly in New Zealand -- is often a flexible work day from home or at least a casual dress day and often teams have a 'no meeting' rule so it's a day where everyone just puts their heads down and knocks out a lot of stuff. Boom, week over. Week after week after week.
Short vacations and holidays are super nice. They break up the monotony of Work Time, but they break through in small, marginal ways. Fundamentally your body and your mind and your soul remain in the Work Time rhythm. You might slip off to your bach on the coast, drive to and discover a new little pocket of the world, spend a BBQ weekend at home. If you're lucky enough to be an Aucklander living near a beach, you might as the Congers do grab the kayak or paddle board and make a point of getting out on the water for a few hours. If you are young, you sleep in. If you're in the mature phase of your life, that never works so instead you get up and read ALL the news, waste a few hours sipping your coffee and catching up on the world.
Work Time is fine and we all learn to live with it, but it goes by rapidly. Months and years can disappear in a blink. Suddenly your children are out of high school, your pets are dying, you really should have gotten a new job or role a year or two ago. Poof time goes by. We don't have that time any more. DrC isn't sick right now, but he still has an incurable cancer with a better than average chance of mortality within the next 3 years... never mind 5 or 10 or 25.
Fortunately, there is another way to experience time. We call it Cruising Time. Whether you are on a boat, bike or land yacht, an extended sabbatical drops you out of Work Time and into a mode where time stretches like taffy. All of us who have done this are familiar with it. Yet describing Cruising Time is to some extent like describing a colour or a flavour. I can provide a proxy, but unless you drop into Cruising Time, my words only approximate the experience. Over a beer on a warm evening, we speculate why this happens. Maybe Cruising Time is simply a byproduct of the fact that there is no pattern or regularity to our lives. There is no Monday. There is no Friday. There is no day off, public holiday, or Christmas break. There is no set time to get up and no requirement to go to bed. Every single day is unique and chock full of events big and small. Yet in their variability, they are also endlessly the same -- meals, landscapes, provisioning and chores to maintain your mode of travel, cultural experiences, trail magic, and chance encounters.
In Cruising Time, days become weeks, weeks become months, months become years. Every member of my family will tell you that the longest period of our lives was the time spent crossing the Pacific. Yet that voyage took only six months. We were in New Zealand the first time twice that duration, but in the dilation of experience caused by Cruising Time, the crossing took years while the year we actually spent in New Zealand on Work Time felt like a mere few months. My experience with Cruising Time is that you can't shift into it in less than three weeks. We managed it when we spent a few months in Australia, but we missed it entirely in India even though the gods know that was a seriously busy trip.
This time, DrC and I dropped into Cruising Time in the first week. We've been in Europe for only eight days, but it feels like several weeks have passed, maybe a month. He was fussing this morning that we were running out of time to get to Italy by 1 April, and I was forced to show him the calendar and remind him that we'd managed to blast through three countries in four days. It was time to match our travel velocity with our mental pace. Slow down, Dean. We're going to be here for ten months. We spent half of the first week sitting 'on the hard' at the camper place in a microdot of a town East of Amsterdam and it STILL feels like we've done a million things in this first week.
"If you can't extend your life through medicine, extend your sense of time and living through travel." ~ Toast Conger
LOCATION: Bordeaux, France
PLAN: Slowing down seriously now that we are below 45 degrees N and it's a bit warmer. San Sebastien, Spain is the next target and then DrC has a plan to wend around Spain and Portugal for at least a a few weeks before hitting the coastline and starting our drift eastwards along the Med.
At the request of a few readers, adding a quick summary of what we did in the prior week. Frankly, I find this type of travel blog info boring but other people love it and I'm writing it up so I can match what we did to the pictures anyway. Just stop reading though if this type of thing bores you.
Hoogeven, Netherlands for several days getting the van ready. Drove to Haarlem, NL for two nights. Spent the first afternoon exploring Haarlem (which I totally recommend! as an Amsterdam more or less shrunk to pocket size for your convenience). We had brunch with Jaime's friend Claire in Amsterdam the next day then did a walking tour of the canals, a few hours in the Rijkmuseum, and a detour on the way back to the train to see the red light district (which actually uses red lights for the street lamps so you'll know precisely where you are). Stocked up on a few items from the takeaway menu at a local coffee shop before training back to Dapple in Haarlem.
Drove to Bruges, Belgium the next day and spent all afternoon and evening wandering around that amazing town ogling churches, Belgium beer stores, and chocolate shoppes. Had two Belgium blondes while sitting on a stone bench in the foyer of an 800 year old building and watched the people and horses stream across the market. (And for those of you wondering why we were doing blondes in Brussels, it's a beer... get your mind out of the gutter and into beer nirvana.).
Agreed to spend a lot more time in Belgium when we transit in September, we shot down to Versailles, France just south of Paris. We found a good place to park within a short bike to the palace and spent the afternoon marvelling at the vanity of man. Up in the wee hours the next morning so that we could get to the Loire Valley in France. We managed to spend time at both Chambourd and Amboise, where we saw some glorious follies of castles. Amboise and Bruges share a vibe in that they are endlessly charming, beautiful and fun full of boutiques and cafes none of which a normal person can afford. DrC called them both 'the Vail of <insert country>". Today, we are shooting even further south to the Bordeaux region. If it seems like we are travelling too fast, it's mostly because it was really cold up there, and we're going back later when it isn't so damn chilly. With this last big leg today, we will abruptly slow down in terms of kilometres covered.