July 11, 2009

The planning of a trip

It seems my ordeal on the bus on the way to Dortmund wasn’t enough to turn me off. I just booked a return ticket by bus to visit another city in September. I must be crazy or a glutton for punishment. (wink wink, nudge nudge.) Actually I’m neither. I just don’t want to pay more than necessary for my travels.

In the past year, I’ve become quite adept at planning trips, at least in Europe. So how do you plan such a trip?

When planning a trip, I use three criteria to help me determine my methods of transport. Efficiency, cost and comfort.

Being my efficient self, I checked the duration of the trips and the amount of changes needed for each trip. Both the train and bus would take nearly as long at around four and a half hours. But if I took the train, I’d have to change trains. This made the bus more efficient. The only down-side is that the bus can get stuck in traffic. This leaves cost  and comfort to compare.

Not counting the mishap on the last trip, I think the bus wins on comfort. The seats are nicely padded and recline so you can have a nice kipper. Another issue for me as a lone traveller is luggage. On the bus, my luggage is stowed away so I don’t need to constantly keep an eye on it whilst travelling. Not needing to change busses, for this trip at least, means no chance of missing any connection. This translates into less stress. The air quality on the train wins on long trips. This is especially true if there is a window you can open.

Pricewise, the bus wins again. The cheapest fare I found with the bus was one-third the fare with the train. This leaves me more budget to spend in the city I’m visiting. I guess I can treat my hosts to another round of drinks. Here, I found no redeeming factors for the train.

The transport side of things taken care of, I needed to arrange accommodation. As I’m going to a couchsurfing meeting, I decided to hit the couchsurfing community and try to find a host for the duration of my stay. I was pleasantly surprised when, in less than an hour, I found two couchsurfers willing to host me. Either I was very lucky, or the CS (couchsurfing)  community there is quite strong.

Where are you going? I hear you ask.

I’m going to enjoy the Braderie de Lille! Are you coming too?

You have a whole month to plan! ;)

July 6, 2009

Are you happy with your life?

I had a nice and enlightening phone call tonight. You know, those calls were you talk about anything and everything, trying to get more depth out of each other. In the middle of this call, I got dealt this curve-ball of a question. “Are you happy with you life the way it is now?”

Before answering this question, we have to define the idea behind the question. Did this person want to know if I’m:

  • contented and complacent,
  • happy with the way my life turned out,
  • or did he want to know if I’m leading a happy life?

I’m not willing to spend the rest of my life like this, in the same routine. I guess this means that I’m not complacent about my life. I want more out of life than what I have now. It’s not my life ambition to look back in 30 years and see a life spent alone, going from one “relationship” to “relationship”. At the end of the journey, I want to be able to say that I made a difference in at least 2 people’s life.

Am I happy with the way things turned out? Hell yeah! I mean, it could have been a lot worse. When I decided some nine years ago to migrate to the Netherlands, I had no concrete plan, no saving, no job and no place to live. What I have achieved so far, I’ve done it myself. With hard work and determination. There have been ups and downs in the past years, but I’ve weathered the storms so far, with help of friends (and family). I may be a stubborn bugger, but I know when to ask for help and when to accept that helping hand.

The biggie is: Am I leading a happy life?

Why not? I have a job I’m happy with. Have (good) friends and am in relatively good health. Why should I dwell on the things that can be improved? Like my late grandparents would say “every house has its cross.”

My belief is that  we need to take our lives in our own hands and at least make a real effort to change the things we don’t like. Not in a loose cannon kind of way, but by investing our energy in things that are worth our while.

I’m not a praying kind of person, but I find the Serenity Prayer to be a good thing to keep in mind.


God grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference. …

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