Monday, May 16, 2011

15 and 16 May

Boarding pass. Shoes off. Belt off. Empty pockets. Walk through, no beep.

48D. Glass of wine. Recycled oxygen. Glass of Baileys. Can't sleep.

Anxious. Excited. Nervous. Overwhelmed. A big leap.

Flying always elicits a wide array of feelings. It's exciting, yet slightly boring. Relaxing, yet slightly uncomfortable. The last of the waiting for a big journey - all the while toying with expectations both good and bad.

The first leg of our flight brought us to Dusseldorf, Germany, where we then caught a flight to St. Petersburg, Russia. We flew Air Berlin, and despite the constant and harsh German, the flight staff and service far exceeded my expectations.

For the vast majority of the trip, despite being utterly exhausted, we replaced napping with goofing around - a pasttime sure to be a defining factor in this trip. With Karen's wit and Michael's light-hearted humor, the three of us will surely leave Nepal with sore cheeks.

All laughs aside, this plane ride, perhaps more so than any other I've ever taken, had been met with silent reflection - who am I, who have I been, who would I like to be, what do I wish to take from this trip, and how can I use all this to better myself? No easy feat, and needless to say, the questions won't be answered in seven hours, or even the subsequent two hour flight. Will I find answers on the Trans-Siberian Railway, in the Gobi desert, atop the Great Wall, amidst the majesty of Mount Everest, or at the Coliseum, Vatican, or Eiffel Tower? Will I find the answers in a vodka bottle, tea leaves, the beauty of nature, or a smile? Will I find the answers at all?

It is life's great challenge to challenge yourself - to look deep inside your soul and to really work on improvement. This trip serves as just the means to the challenging ends in so many ways. And so, as I sit in St. Petersburg's cozy Apple Hostel, it begins - the challenge and the journey. This philosophic, photographic, and personal adventure will be daunting no doubt, and I can't help but entertain a million and one questions and expectations.

This is it. Carpe deim.

PS - Songbird.

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