Wednesday, 6 July 2016

Camping in Luxembourg: killing the internet-bug

Camping "Um Gritt": a peaceful place between the hills in Luxembourg, situated alongside the Sauer river.

University's over for now, and since my graduation project was based on the smartphone usage of millennials: what better way to detox from all the information overload by packing a car and hiding yourself between hills? Me and my friends needed a short and cheap getaway after much sleep-deprivation, but killing the internet-bug was just one out of many coincidental advantages from the past few days, for me especially. No social media, no comparing, no obsessive checking of e-mails. It's cliche, but healthy every now and then.

Given the possible directions I would like to go in life (writer/communicator/story teller), it is hard to not give in to the marketing charms of social media despite re-occurring negative feelings against this social habitat. Its addictive nature, the tendency to sketch a far-too-perfect image, the growing narcissism, the admiration for superficiality... you know the drill. However, it is easy to blame a whole construct when it is really ourselves who have the upper hand.

Nobody forced me to create an Instagram-account and to scroll through meters worth of pictures each day. Nobody forced me look at pictures with the intention of analyzing composition, contrast, colour usage, etc, just to end up landing on this far-too-perfect "lunch date with my bff"-kinda image and clicking further and further into cyber space. Is it a play of coincidences? Sort of, as far as the tracking of our social media behaviour goes. We can't change it, that's the way companies know what we want. So what do we have? Emotional control, which is highly dependent of our own mindset.

The latter is hard to manipulate once overhauled by envy; a short getaway into nature might help despite its short-term effects. It is not meant as some sort of rehab. Instead, it should be a little nudge into readjusting our focus; a realization of what brings peace to us and what doesn't. Throughout the trip, I realized that cruising or hiking through landscapes along with my photo camera brings me solace.

Of course, it helps to have a semi-volunteer driver (a.k.a. close friend) and lush landscapes. Even the bipolarity of the weather creates a certain appreciation for beauty. We drove from the Netherlands, through Belgium, right into Luxembourg. It's easy to spot the difference by focusing on the differences of the roads and the signs. Little details like these create small sparks of refocus throughout the chaos in my mind. So does staying alert for nice picture opportunities.

With this mindset, I'd like to show you some of the pictures I took on the first day. They contain a lot of simplicity, mostly pictures taken along the highway, but it's just to give you a vibe of losing your mind to the infinity of nature and infrastructure. This isn't about results, hundreds of pictures of the same thing ought to have told me that I am not a professional photographer. But this quantity does tell me something else: during those hundred pictures, I was focused, I was in the moment. Social media gives you this focus as well (how many times have we lost track of time while scrolling?), but to me it creates much less satisfaction and worthy memories.

Therefore: enjoy my little story.

Yellow-green plains, cars and bikes. Not something specifically Belgian, but surely cute and a memorable starter of our journey as our tires seemed to be displeased with the quality of the road.

This is a puddle, but could as well have been a lake through the way it is photographed. Nonetheless, it doesn't take away from the amount of rain we experienced while driving.

Soon enough, Belgium welcomed us with much bluer skies...
... and steep roads.

But in no way do they take away from Europe's authentic atmosphere.
Luxembourg has the same green and hilly vibe, although with better roads.
Here, it's even easier to make your mind wander.
But the effortless change of landscapes, along with the gorgeous sky, surely keeps you awake.

Architects surely know how to create picturesque scenes as well...

...but the clouds that peak up from above the trees should not be left without credits either.
By the way, you should know that I've never gone camping before. Who knew that tents actually contain a divided interior and exterior?! At least I learnt something new, although I only functioned as an assistant while setting up our two tents. Sadly I am too used to hostels or hotels, but I can't complain about the experience. My back might be a bit sore but it really wasn't as terrific as I thought it would be. Camping can be quite civilized as well. ;)
I don't often post pictures of my friends, but I am sure that without them, I might have ended up sleeping in the cold rain with no food. Did you know that it's possible to cook pasta by nesting your pan of boiling water plus pasta in your sleeping bag? I surely didn't, but I doubt I should try this out at home with my regular blankets.
So here's to close (and less city-spoiled) friends. Here's to beautiful skies; spending the evening playing cards; not falling asleep with your smartphone light while waiting for responses; and a lot of shutterspamming.

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