So tomorrow, the time comes. I’ll be getting on a plane, bound for Madrid, and similarly bound for another summer of tour guiding around the continent with which I am head-over-heels in love.
I’m doing a much shorter stint of tour guiding this year. I’ll be on the road for about three months, minus a week in the middle when I’m heading over to London for the Olympics. In September I’ll be back thesis-ing, which I’ve recently decided will be about the people I work with. Yep, I’m going to be studying how Australians travel.
The last six months have gone by surprisingly fast. I’ve been grounded in the same spot the whole time, even though I’ve nicked over to Australia, Turkey, the UK, Belgium, Germany, Spain and Italy throughout. Just reading that last sentence is quite ridiculous, really. But it’s a massive part of Europe’s appeal for me.
Of course, Europe’s main appeal is one of its citizens, Paul. This is the longest stretch we’ve been together in our formerly cross-continental (hell, cross-hemispherical) relationship, and it’s felt lovely. Getting into university here and studying for my masters has made me feel like a resident, not just a passing visitor. My Dutch has improved, as have my cycling skills (alas, before this incident). I’ve seen more of the country and witnessed local customs like Sinterklaas and Queensday.
Of course, I have had good days and bad days. Sometimes I have a verbal exchange with a shopkeeper in Dutch, buoying my spirits. Other days I struggle my way through phone contracts and student administration. Some days the sun is out and so am I, other days it’s grey and cold and I long for warmth and watch tans.
But I need to make a living. I need to go back to work, and I want to. I can’t wait; tour guiding has been the best job I’ve ever had, and if it meant I wasn’t away from Paul for long stretches of time, I’d consider doing it full-time. I love talking about history and food and culture, and then not just talking about it but showing it to people and seeing them experience it for the first time. I’m a salesperson; I sell Europe. It’s not a hard product to push.
So, tomorrow I will say ‘doei’ to Holland for a little bit, and say ‘hola’ to Spain for the next month. I’ll be guiding something completely different to last year, week-long tours of the Andalusia region, plus skips over to southern Portugal and even Morocco. I visited a few places in this region back in 2010 – Seville, Cordoba and Granada – and found it fascinating. I squealed when I found out that’s where I’ll be spending June.
With regards to this blog, I’m going to try my damnedest to keep it up. I’ve loved keeping it up over the winter and moving it over to its own new site in February has seen my readership triple. I don’t want to lose that, so I’ll be making it a priority to blog at least a couple of times a week.
So, in a mix of nervousness and excitement, I’m dragging out the Beast. On the road again…