adventures in the red light district

There are several words and phases to describe what I am feeling. It is something which is experienced around the world and has been since the beginning of humanity. For a few months now it has been creeping up in the back of my mind. It is something which slowly overtakes your consciousnesses and becomes your sole ambition in life. Although some may call it a disease, I prefer to consider it a blessing.

I have officially caught the travel bug. Ever since my early years of childhood when I first went to Mexico with my family, the feeling of discovery and exhilaration when exploring foreign places has become a central part of my personality. Barely a few months go by between trips before I start to become grumpy and unsettled. I could go on for years about my experiences across Europe and various parts of South America. But, I will save most of the details  for later posts.

One thing I will mention though is a thought which occurred to me while reading the Novel “The Goldfinch.” A few years back, my cousins and I found ourselves in a very precarious situation. After spending New Years Eve in Paris, we attempted to book a flight back to the US. Unfortunately all the seats were sold out and our chances were slim for about another week. We decided to take a train to Frankfurt, Germany.  Little did we know that Frankfurt happens to be one of the most dangerous cities in Europe. I’m not kidding when I say this city makes ghetto parts of New York look like Disneyland.

As we walked down the street, I recall hearing gunshots and seeing drug deals take place. In the windows red hearts glowed in the chilly late night air. (I later learned that the red hearts symbolized certified brothel) Turns out that prostitution is legal in parts of Germany…. We were literally in the heart of the red light district with no hotel reservations an no plan. To make things worse, I had developed a fever and had started to throw up. If it was not for the heart doctor from California we met on the train, I don’t now where we would have ended up. He caught us as we were lost and wandering down the street and offered to help us. He happened to have family in the city and was able to get us a safe place to sleep for the night.

I know it sounds funny, but I wouldn’t change a thing about my experience in Germany if given the chance. Because of a few full flights, I was able gain a new perspective on travel.  Because of a few full flights, I was able to experience a whole new country.

In “The Goldfinch” the main character describes the complexity of European train stations and the policies of international travel. He describes the customs and requirements of passports, even on a train.This part of the book would likely have been nothing more then a passing transition if I had not been able to relate to it.  After an international trip, there are so many more things you can relate to and so many more stories you have to tell. It broadens your perspective and raises many questions about the unknown. Although travel can be uncomfortable (as proven above) the overall experience is totally worth it. Even thinking about it makes me giddy to consider my next big adventure. Can we all take a second to consider the beauty of wanderlust?

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