I am often very affected by the weather. When I am traveling, this is happens more so. Traveling means more outside time and more connection to place and to nature. When the weather is bad, my vision of the place is changed. Heck I sometimes even remember places solely based on the weather. When you sometimes see a place for just a few days the first impression is often the only one, but even those first few hours can affect how a place is experienced. The first impression of a place, like with people, builds a view of if that is hard to shake one way or another. For me weather plays a large role in this.
In my travels I have left places in hours because I didn’t feel like staying. I have sat happily in cafes for days watching the people in the drizzling rain. I have tried places years later and been unable to shake a bad memory. Even for places that you already like sometimes the weather can get to you. It has been gray and raining here for nearly a week. I’m beginning to get stir crazy.
Drizzle and Fog
I left Cork Ireland after about 3 hours because it was totally gray and drizzling rain. I had planned a 2 and a half week trip around Ireland. I had been already in Dublin and Galway and was looking forward to seeing the Ring of Kerry and the southern coast. After a bus trip from Galway I got into Cork and walked across town to check into the hostel I had booked weeks before. Then I went into the town to walk around. It was a totally gray day and it couldn’t decide whether it was going to rain or not so just keep pissing from the sky. When I saw at the tourist info that the Ring of Kerry trip I wanted to take left at 4am, that was the last straw. I ended up on one of the last buses to Dublin after checking out of my hostel within hours of checking in. I still remember Ireland very fondly, rain and all (it is Ireland after all so rain was to be expected), but that day in Cork just brings up a picture of unhappy gray skies.
The rain itself doesn’t seem to be a problem. I don’t mind rain, in fact I remember a day of running through the pouring rain in Dublin quite fondly. The point I notice here is that my first week in Dublin was sunny and clear. This built that image in my mind that even though it was raining I remember the happy sunny feelings from the beginning of the trip. The first impression of Cork was rain and with a few other disappointments led to a feeling of ugh. The day I was walking around in Dublin and the heavens just opened up, I ran around a corner into the first shop open. It ended up being a little bagel place that I went back to several times. It had good food and a nice place to watch the rain.
Bologna in October
First impressions will stick in the other direction too. I first saw Bologna during a pleasantly warm October. It was cold when I left Germany and the leaves were already off the trees when I came back, but the week in Bologna was perfectly warm without being hot. I don’t even remembering it rain. So when I went back in March that it would be colder didn’t even occur to me. It was still warmer and more pleasant than Germany at the time as well. I had my jacket because I needed it to go home, and despite the locals shivering in the cool air it felt great to me. I expect this is as much a point of comparison to my home than anything. Except that I have fallen for the place now.
Even coming to nearby Ferrara in the end of August last year the extreme heat didn’t bother me as much as it normally would. My initial impression of the place was influenced by Bologna partly because of regional similarities and partly because I was visiting the same friends. But in the end the experience just reinforced my enjoyment of the area. On the other hand I saw Zagreb on the same trip in the same heat and it will forever be remembered as a boiling hot place fit only for people to sit in cafes and drink cold beer. (Ok so not all bad)
Weather is really just one aspect of travel. Sometimes it conspires to keep you from seeing sights. Sitting in a hostel for several days due to a blizzard or even tramping around seeing sights under a poncho and trying not to get the camera wet from a monsoon can really affect a view of the place. Even bad weather can affect you sometimes for good and sometimes for bad. Sometimes weather is only a piece of the puzzle, as it is with my view of Paris.
I know Paris is supposed to be a nice place and enjoyable for all. I want to like Paris, I really do, but my first impression has been hard to shake. We came to visit for a weekend while I was studying abroad. It was a very hot August. This in itself would have set me on edge (very hot weather and I don’t really get along), but add a garbage collectors strike. So all of the trash that hadn’t been picked up for a while was baking in the sun. Ok, so we will just go into one of the many cool, non-garbage filled, museums in Paris. Nope. Culture ministry strike as well. So every museum was closed as well. Hmm.. so much for really enjoying Paris. Weather didn’t cause the problems, but sure made them worse. I have been back a few times mostly switching trains across the city. I have met a few nice people and heard traveler stories of neat places. So I want to go back, but when I do I will check the newspapers for strikes and find someone that knows their way.
Weather doesn’t just affect mood. When you only have a few days a string of bad weather can mean missed sight seeing time. Although I really enjoy sitting in a cafe and watching people, weather can even affect that. Above that being forced to run through streets with a full backpack on either in the pouring rain or in the stinking heat can be really unpleasant.
Any weather related travel stories to share?