October 15, 2010
When people travel there is a feeling of urgency to see everything a place has to offer. I often fall victim to this impulse and race around a city checking things off my list without really enjoying any of them. I understand if you only have a day or two in a city that you would want to pack those days pretty well, but if you have a bit of a longer time I would highly suggest taking a deep breath and taking an afternoon off.
I am traveling for five months so my situation is a little different than the average tourist, but sometimes when I think of my whole itinerary and everything I want to do and see I just feel exhausted and want to crawl into bed instead of going out to explore. If you are traveling for a long period of time I would highly suggest taking a day or at least an afternoon now and then to do something for yourself that makes you feel comfortable and relaxed. For some that may be a long walk in a park, a nap on the beach, a long meal with some nice wine. For me, what really relaxes me and makes me feel like I’m home when I’m homesick is shopping and a movie. I grew up in Los Angeles- land of the beautiful malls- and nothing makes me feel more at home than strolling through a nice mall with a coffee in hand and then seeing a movie.
After two weeks at the lion sanctuary I was exhausted, drained, and more than a little homesick. Going to the Canal Walk in Cape Town was the perfect cure. Canal Walk is a huge beautiful mall right in the center of Cape Town in an area called Century City. That really couldn’t have made me feel any more at home because for any of you reading this from LA know Century City is a mall in Los Angeles and is in fact my mall as it is 5 minutes from my house. So after 2 weeks covered in mud and lion poop I was positively giddy at the idea of going shopping in Century City. The Canal Walk has over 400 stores, a ton of restaurants, a food court, and a large multiplex movie theater. I loved Cape Town and I spent my other 6 days there zipping around the city and surrounding areas, but I would not have given up my day at the mall and movies for anything!
Even if you are only traveling for a week I urge you to remember that how you feel is just as important to how much you see in your overall experience of a place. Be sure to take time to yourself, even if it’s just a tradition of afternoon tea or a jog in the morning, it will increase your overall happiness and the mentality will spill over to your other activities keeping you sane while you buzz around the city checking off sites on your list.