As I reconvened with the group it was as though more than just an hour had passed. I felt like I now knew this town better than my own. I’d explored so many side streets and taken the time to notice everything in my path and spoken to people I met.
And, more than just seeing the sights, I’d allowed myself the time to consider a single question that really mattered for me.
I never would have thought that just by slowing down and turning off my phone I not only could explore a place more intimately but also get to know myself a little better, too – and all without paying a penny.
There are some who may think they don’t need to be told to concentrate, to allow time for themselves, to switch off, but for someone like me: prone to rushing, always focusing on work and allowing myself to be distracted by emails and social media demands... being forced to set aside the time to do it by a guide was necessary, otherwise I’d never have tried.
And, though I didn’t travel far physically, I realised that it had changed the way I think about visiting a place.
I vowed to, on my next trip, slow things down and allow myself the freedom to simply explore and notice the little things rather than dash around trying to do it all.
“Sometimes the street doesn’t shout, it whispers and so you have to concentrate really hard if you want to hear it,” said Anja.
Once more guitar music played in the distance, but this time I noticed it instantly.