The world seems louder now. The insistent rattle of the train, more jostling than it used to be. The looming threat of closeness. Some semblance of normality is on the horizon, but the streets look strange and threatening. The coffee shops clang in a metallic roar and people pour out onto the pavements from restaurants and cafes. Masked travellers each forge their paths along the cobblestones while locals linger in alley doorways, their plumes of cigarette smoke hanging in the air.
Some stores lie dormant, their doorways closed until the next occupier tries their luck in the local economy. Passers by go along in their daze, smitten by a new sense of freedom. Plates of vibrant foods under canopied tables, beneath the smoky sun of May. Glasses filled with sparkling drinks, the clamorous laughter of beer gardens echoes in a new roaring twenties.
Getting back to travel feels strange and alien. Tannoy announcements signal delays and cancellations, remnants of the past year lingering on into the present. People continue to swarm the train carriages, the relentlessly hopeful human trait refusing to buckle under the weight of fear. Bus stops once again see stragglers waiting for their last bus home, under the dim lamplight on city corners.
A problem which was once leaves on the line, late-running busses, traffic jams, is now all the more complex. From mask-wearing, to distancing, to vaccine passports- getting back to travel might feel like more effort than it’s worth. It’s important to remember how travel can continue to benefit us. So long as we keep ourselves and others safe, we can go back to the new experiences and environments which travel offers us in time. At first it might just be a short train journey, later an overseas flight- eventually, though, we will get back to travel, and it will be worth it.
Featured image: Yousef Alfuhigi via Unsplash.