Blindly travelling

As a blind person, I’d have to get used to some pretty stupid remarks. I stopped getting shocked ages ago by questions such as “How do you manage to dress?” and “How do you not spill all your food whilst eating?” long ago. But occasionally, I hear something which I find down right shocking. For example when someone made the following statement to my friend: “Poor Linn, I can’t imagine how she can get any joy from travelling”. The remark made both her and me howl with laughter. Because I am someone who has been used to travelling since I was a tiny baby. At the age of one, mum would fly me over to Bergen in the west of Norway to have me stay with my grandma. And she would only fly me over because I was too little to fly by myself. This meant she’d fly back to Oslo again and I’d be with my grandparents for a long time. At five, I was finally old enough to fly alone. So, as you can imagine, I learned to appreciate going away at a very young age. The person, who made that remark, was entirely wrong. But someone may be curious about the kinds of things blind people do enjoy when travelling.

I have been very fortunate this year, and I’ve traveled to four countries I’ve never been to in a very short space of time. In January I went to Monaco, in March, New Zealand and Australia and only last week, I returned from a trip to Iceland. The first two trips were holidays, while the Iceland trip was a study trip, if four hours of lecture and a week of adventures and partying count. On all the trips, there was some kind of sightseeing. In Monaco, I walked in the narrow streets taking in the sounds, smells and the feel of the uneven cobbles under my feat. I also enjoyed a lot of luxury in the form of nice restaurants and living in a flat on the 25th floor. It felt amazing sitting up there listening to the life going on so far down and feeling the sun on my face. I even held an impromptu concert with the friend I visited in a Monte Carlo Restaurant.

In New Zealand and Australia, I went for walks, listened to the exotic birds, felt the flowers, fed and patted kangaroos, koalas and wombats, went to an Aboriginal memorial trust where I could learn about the culture, went around Melbourne in a city tram, walked around windy Wellington, patted farm animals, went to another museum in New Zealand where I learned about Maori culture and where they had an earth quake simulator.

In Iceland, I walked on Volcanos, listened and smelled the boiling water that came up from the ground, soaked in nature baths and climbed into secret caves.

Common for all the trips, was that I had lots of good food and at times, a little too much good drink, and good company. My friends in Monaco, a cousin and her boyfriend in New Zealand, a good friend in Australia I hadn’t seen in ages and my classmates in Iceland.

Do you notice that all the things I did are things anyone would or could do? I enjoy what sighted people enjoy. Ok, so I am more into touching, smelling and listening for things. I touch whatever I can in museums, stop and listen, and I take in things with all the senses I have. Certain things I do not enjoy that much. For instance, on a snowy day in Iceland, we made a photo stop which involved some hiking. It was only a short one so I decided to stay in the car because it was very windy and the snow was blowing in my face.

I don’t take pictures on holidays except when I was playing with the Australian animals in the wildlife park. But that’s not entirely because of my blindness. It’s to do with the fact that I’ve always been someone who likes to carry memories in my heart rather than a physical imprint of them. Besides, I like perfect pictures which mean I need someone else to take them as my friend’s mum did in the wildlife park. I do enjoy shooting my friends sometimes to see how the pictures come out. I did that in a hot tub in Iceland and because of the water, it tripled the size of the per of their bodies that were under water. Some blind people are crazy about taking pictures and they like to point the camera to different places. We are all different. So, there is no one thing that fit all blind people when travelling.

I hope my next trip will be soon. I am getting a little restless again….

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