These Boots Were Made For

…journeys of self-discovery?

boots
Maybe.

I’m in Europe this fall, using Prague as home base for a series of solo adventures abroad while Mike does his grown-up things. I’m living, in other words, the freaking dream, and am almost painfully aware that this is the best thing ever.

All 3 of these side-adventures are centred around walking. It’s a bit hard to explain why I’d rather walk (FAR) than sit on a beach or go to museums or whatever you’re supposed to do when the world (or at least a whole continent) is your oyster. I mean, I love those things (especially museums – oh god I love museums so much), but they’re not what I need right now. What I need is a nice long walk and a nice long think; somewhere around 400 km of walking and thinking, ideally.

At the top of this page, under my name, you can see the words ‘flâneuse’ and ‘boulevardière’. Great words (and near-synonyms, so I only have to give one explanation), used to describe 19th-century Parisian dandies who would walk around the city, people-watching intently. They got a certain intellectual fulfillment from this, which allowed them to feel superior to those other losers who would just walk around the city…vacuously people-watching? I paraphrase Wikipedia here. I like the idea of the flâneur, anyway, and learned to enjoy Toronto more over the past few years as I walked all over it and came to know its people and places slowly and at ground level. (Beats me why flâneurs restricted themselves to the urban landscape, though; nature is at least as interesting as people, and better yet, it’s *so much slower*.)

That slow pace, the gradual unveiling of each successive setting or landmark or vista, is singularly conducive to thinking. I mean, you know that. We all go for walks (or equivalent) to clear our heads when things get jumbled. A good number of us always keep a notebook close at hand, too, because ideas have an annoying habit of popping up while we’re out and about.

last-path
Profundity thisaway

Walking is both peaceful and stimulating. I’m rarely happier than when stomping around somewhere, alone with my thoughts, absorbing each new sight with quiet elation. I love stepping away from the real world for a bit and letting ideas drift in and out without any need to force things along. I’m most myself, and most in touch with myself, when walking. And if I’ve got to reinvent myself or whatever it is I’m doing right now, I’m going to need to walk A LOT. Preferably in really beautiful places with tasty food and drink to end each day.

So. I just did a week-and-a-half in England, walking the Dorset half of the Jurassic Coast; I’ve got some mountain hikes in northern Italy coming up next week; and then I’ll be strolling through Provence in early December. BRING IT.

[By the way – you obviously won’t just hear about boring old thinking. Very little about that, in fact, since it’s boring. I’m also here for good times and adventure, and will post some highlights from Dorset (which was AMAZING HOLY CRAP) soon.]

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13 thoughts on “These Boots Were Made For

    1. Thanks! Your blog looks great – just followed you! The Jurassic Coast was stunning. Absolutely beautiful, every step of the way (well, I’d give the area just west of Weymouth a miss), and challenging enough to be interesting without becoming a slog. Verbose day-by-day breakdown coming soon!

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      1. Cheers – very kind of you. Yes I’ve heard that isn’t the most glamorous of areas! My Dad and I are going to do the Coast to Coast next year (Lake District, Yorkshire Dales, Yorkshire Moors). Its 190 miles and supposed to be absolutely gorgeous. If you’re ever back in the UK and in need of some mileage, would recommend checking it out.

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  1. You basically covered all that I love about hiking here… long or short ones, though they differ in impact, does wonders for both mind and body.. even though sometimes we think ourselves crazy for setting out on some of the more arduous hikes.

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  2. Your blog has just been discovered by a hobbit in Yorkshire, England. AND I don’t even know what ‘A Millennial’ is meant to be. But you are one, apparently. So am I a 20c left-over? Ok I can hack that. Looking forward to reading your stuff. Heather

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    1. Haha, thank you for hopping aboard! Honestly, I’m not sure if I made the cut-off for the millennials; my husband, 2 yrs younger than me, once drunkenly announced that he’s a millennial but I’m too old.

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  3. Maybe I should try some paths other than the Pennine Way!? Thanks for checking my blog. I did visit Dorset last summer and you’ve reminded me I have some photos somewhere. I love your pithy style and your thoughts both on walking and while walking. bw A

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    1. Thank you so much! And yours is an absolute delight! I loveloveloveloved the coast path, but it would probably be child’s play for a hardened Pennine vet…Still, worth the trip for the post-walk cream teas alone, in my opinion.

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