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Being a tourist in your own country

When I arrived in Sweden one of the first things I did was to ask every Swede if they have seen the Northern Lights. A little disappointed everybody answered me that they have never seen them, and they are not planning on seeing them in the near future. My follow up question was, which cities are worth visiting during my short exchange time. I received another disappointing answer ‘I haven’t been to many cities in Sweden’ or ‘I have heard Gothenburg is supposed to be nice’.

In the beginning, I couldn’t understand those answers. How can you live in Sweden and haven’t seen the Northern Lights? Each winter they are just a few hours away. Isn’t it something everybody would like to see? This made me think and I realised that I am the same. When friends who haven’t been to Germany ask me, what cities are worth visiting, I have to refer to places family and friends have visited before, because up until now I haven’t been travelling much through Germany. I have seen more places and could provide more recommendation about France, Sweden and South Africa. Even in my own hometown, I lived for over 21 years, I have never seen the ‘touristic’ or ‘must-see’ places.

I was wondering ‘Why is that so?’. I concluded that my home country doesn’t spark the same excitement than, for instance, visiting another country. When I think about vacation the first thing which comes into my mind is which country I should go to. Since I lived in Germany for so long and I’m surrounded by Germans every single day I get the feeling that it is nothing special anymore. Even though in my case, Germany, has a lot to offer. Brandenburg Gate in Berlin, the Dome in Colon or the Historic Port of Hamburg are just a few examples which would be worth visiting. It doesn’t even have to be a trip away from home. My home town has a beautiful baroque castle which is a resemblance to the castle in Versailles. I have seen it many times from the outside, but it never crossed my mind to book a tour to see the inside and to learn more about its history. I find myself being bored of my hometown and just have the urge to run away from it, but how can I be bored without even experienced it to its fullest? People from all over the world are planning their vacation to my hometown to experience the small Versailles.

I find myself guilty of just wanting to tick off different places and countries. However, it is important that the priority should not lay on the travel more on the experience that we can gather from it. When talking to my friends about that topic, I’m not alone with that though. We forget that we can escape and change the scenery in our home country as well. We forget about the beauty that our own home has to offer to us. We forget that there are places to explore and new memories which can be gathered just by opening our eyes and stepping outside of our front door. There are many benefits that come with travelling in your home country. Friendships can be created with less distance, travel can be planed short in advance and often it is less cost effective. You will also learn more about your own country and history.

Sometimes we should be a tourist in our home country.

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