Denmark, Europe
Comments 26

The Blank Spaces on Our Maps.

I remember staring longingly at the departures screen at Haneda Airport in Tokyo a couple of weeks ago. Destinations familiar and unknown filled me with a wistfulness that was at once, familiar and unknown.

I wanted as much to stay longer in Japan as to hop on a flight to South Korea, Cairo or Scandinavia. I wanted as much to walk the chaotic streets of Bangkok as to inhale deeply the scent of the pine trees in the Himalayas. And yet, I could only choose to board one flight, to land only in one place…

shivya nath, uttarakhand travel, goat village raithal, dayara bugyal

Lost in the mountains of Uttarakhand.

There’s a Danish word for it: Onism – the quiet frustration of being stuck in one body, that can only inhabit one place at a time; the realisation that one’s lifetime is too short to experience everything in the world.

It is the embodiment of questions that never stop plaguing some of us:

“All the billions of doors you had to close in order to take a single step forward. All the things you haven’t done and may never get around to doing; all the risks that may or may not have been real; all the destinations you didn’t buy a ticket to; all the lights you see in the distance that you can only wonder about; all the alternate histories you narrowly avoided; all the fantasies that stay dormant inside your head; everything you’re giving up, to be where you are right now…”
~ Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows

So although I love the longing for faraway places, I am slowly accepting that no matter how much I travel, there will always be blank spaces on my map. The only way I can stop them from plaguing me is to be where I am with all my heart.

One such longing, and one such blank space is Scandinavia. So when Copenhagen Tourism reached out to me, I knew I had to take myself there with all my heart.

Mauritius landing, onism

We must choose only one place to land…

This week, I will surrender to the unknown rush of a new destination – Copenhagen, perhaps the coolest capital city in Europe! I hope to experience the unique design and architecture of the city, learn from its commitment to urban sustainability, and if I’m lucky, feel hygge, ordinary moments that feel inexplicably cosy and special. Never having travelled to Denmark or Scandinavia before, I can’t wait to try vegan Nordic food and cycling-friendly highways!

I’ll spend another few days in the region (not sure where yet; any ideas?), before boarding a long flight to a place so familiar, it almost feels like I’m going home… Guatemala! Colombia, Peru and California are potentially on the cards too, but I’m in no rush to fill the blank spaces on my map.

How do you feel about onism and the blank spaces on your map?

And do you have any recommendations for cool, lesser-known things to do in Copenhagen, and vegan-friendly places I shouldn’t miss?

*Note: I wrote this post in collaboration with Wonderful Copenhagen. Opinions on this blog are always my own.

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Also read:
First time to Europe? Things to know before you go
Why you shouldn’t put off your travel dreams in 2018
Culturally intriguing ways to experience Europe

26 Comments

  1. Chhavi says

    You write wonderfully Shivya! Looking forward to your adventures in Scandinavia

  2. I often feel the same way you do. It’s nice to know there’s a word to match the feeling. Copenhagen is wonderful! I went last summer after wanting to go for a long time. Enjoy!

    • Shivya Nath says

      I loved spring there, but wonder what summer would be like. What was it like?

  3. That’s so poignant. Onism is a perfect word to describe that feeling. I feel the same. I long to be so many places at once. I cherish all my experiences, but long for more. It’s good to always have that next trip on the calendar, so we can appreciate our memories, still live in the moment, and be looking forward to the future all at once.

    • Shivya Nath says

      Well put Lisa; love that blend of the past, present and future.

  4. Since you are in Scandinavia, you should go to Stockholm, I loved visiting it a few years ago, staying at a hostel on a ship. I f you wan to know more about it, let me know. Please., please let me know when ever you get to California, I would love to met up with you.

  5. Karishma Desai says

    Felt this many times and cant agree more. I am a vegetarian and live in Scandinavia, Sweden. It is getting better and better for vegetarians and vegan 🙂

    • Shivya Nath says

      Lots of stories on my Instagram; blog post coming soon from that fab trip!

  6. barefoot bob says

    Amazing new word for me! Thank you! I feel that I experience Onism every day, and now I have a word to describe that feeling!
    If you like board games, make sure to go to Bastard Cafe in Copenhagen! Also take a day trip to Malmo in Sweden with the train!

    • Shivya Nath says

      Same here, I experience it all the time these days, and have to keep reminding myself to be more contented where I am. Thanks for the recommendations!

  7. I don’t know, if at the end of my days I’ll be looking back full of regrets on some of the lanes I DIDN’T walk.
    But what I know for sure: the joy over all the one’s I’d actually walked will prevail!

  8. I really love the way you describe. And I even love more the way you click the pictures. Thanks for creating such a fantastic blog which helps travelers like us to get some guidance.

  9. What a beautiful post, again! It tugged at my heart strings too; as I grow older I realise that I may never see many places in the world; but then again I understand that maybe I am only meant to feel all the places that I’ve visited with my heart. 🙂

    • Shivya Nath says

      Thanks Shubham! I think age has that effect on all of us :p

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