Before we had children and a house and grew up, Mr Cool and I spent some time living in London. I like saying we lived in London, had we rented a flat 5 metres further up the road, we would have been living in Essex. And although there is nothing wrong with Essex, it sounded so much better to say that we lived in London.
We were pretty savvy travellers back then, so we thought. We had personal CD players for the long flight so we could listen to any of the dozens of CDs we carried with us. We had bought ourselves a very cool little camera that had a zoom lens and electric everything. We made sure we got one with film that could be bought in every major city in the world.
Before we left, I went around the school I had been working in and asked if anyone wanted to be on my ‘Belindaland’ email list. I was going to document our trip and was planning on sending messages home for friends and family when I could. So, I started out with a list of about twenty people who wanted to be on my list. I thought that was pretty cool.
I sent messages home most weeks. We travelled to some cool places, but we also worked in some inner city scary London schools. My emails were pretty exciting at times! By the time we left London eighteen months later, I was sending those ‘Belindaland’ emails to more than 50 people. I would get emails asking to be put on the mailing list. Even strangers asked, they had read my emails over the shoulders of friends and family and wanted them in their very own inboxes. My mother-in-law would print them out and then edit them, literally cutting them up and re-gluing them, cutting out words like ‘damn’ and ‘bum’ so that Mr Cool’s grandma wouldn’t be upset by my ‘bad’ language. It was cool to be in demand.
Because we didn’t have internet in our flat, we were limited to internet cafes. This was fine by us. We would grab a nice big coffee and head to an internet cafe for an hour or so to catch up on things and write home. Due to our camera requiring film, getting photos into the emails was really tricky. A few times I literally sent photo albums home, much to the delight of our parents.
A little while ago, some friends were either living or travelling in London. One friend was looking for ‘The Rainforest Cafe’ in Piccadilly. We were able to give her directions live online. She then sent photos of herself drinking my favourite Key Wester Smoothie at the fantastic smoothie bar complete with elephants and monkeys in the background. Another friend sent photos of herself standing in front of the Louvre, I was able to see the photo seconds after she posted it onto Facebook. Another friend on Facebook sent out a question asking for things to do in a certain part of London. As quick as a flash I shot out a list of things that I would have done in that part of the city. Travelling is so different these days.
When I think back to our days of travelling, I am glad we travelled when we did. We simply enjoyed things and then once a week, shared our tales. There was no pressure to send instagrams of the view from the Eiffel Tower or status updates about the bad fish pizzas I kept accidentally ordering. We lived first, wrote about it later.
A great way to live, don’t you think?