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Memoir set around Europe

27th December 2016

No Baggage by Clara Bensen, memoir set around Europe: Turkey, Greece, The Balkans and Britain (eight countries in all).

Two travellers. Three weeks… and no luggage.

memoir set around europe

Clara meets Jeff via internet dating site OKCupid and within weeks she has agreed to join him on his travels, flying into Istanbul from Texas as their first stop: “If one had but a single glance to give the world, one should gaze on Istanbul” said Alphonse de Lamartine, a 19th century French writer. Their return flight is booked out of London, with no real plans for what would happen in between.

It took Clara eight minutes to get ready for the trip, and Jeff just four. And that was it, one set of clothes and a purse/handbag for her and a stetson for him. They were on a flight heading out of Houston for an adventure. The memoir is part physical journey, and part emotional journey, recovering from a two year trauma of anxiety attacks and an inability to really eat for this self confessed “chaste, home-schooled Christian girl” who ultimately came to eschew many of the tenets of her upbringing.

Her Mother at one point took off for the Middle East, ostensibly to visit her sister, but managed to throw in a bit of daredevil travel herself. In Jeff, her mother’s “free child” personality is mirrored, and his fear of commitment is a bit of a dark shadow hovering over the progress of any possible couple relationship. To find out how they ultimately get on post trip, she offers the reader a catch up in the Epilogue.

The balance between personal exploration and actual exploration is on the cusp of being just about right, one balanced sufficiently against the other for interest and understanding of how Clara came to be on the road with her beau. Establishing a relationship, finding synchronicity together was no easy matter, especially with a partner who seemed to have limitless energy to experience everything at 100 miles per hour.

Beds were secured through couch surfing, and each day developed its own rhythm. From Istanbul they took a boat to Piraeus and into the heart of Athens, and it was on the Acropolis that Jeff could be found drying his boxers, opprobrium from several quarters naturally ensued! Delphi, bus rides and hitch hiking exploits all make for colourful exploits, culminating in a rendezvous in Cambridge (via Edinburgh, as you do) with Professor, Sir David Spiegelhalter at Cambridge University, who studies the phenomenon of coincidence.

It turns out that having no baggage is liberating and actually very do-able.

I will leave you pondering the serendipitous and synchronistic events and encounters, captured in this memoir of the couple’s journey, which psychoanalyst Carl Jung described as “meaningful coincidences“. And, as quoted in the memoir – “if you take a risk and move towards whatever it is you’re drawn to, .. the ‘universe’ or ‘god’ – or whatever you want to call it – somehow collaborates”. 

Could you set off for a long trip in just the clothes you stand up in?

Tina for the TripFiction Team

You can follow Clara on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and via her website. You can buy her book here.

And do come and connect with Team TripFiction via Twitter (@tripfiction), Facebook (TripFiction), Instagram (TripFiction) and Pinterest (TripFiction)… and now YouTube

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