I am accompanying my husband on his official trip to Russia for 9 days and that up there will be my itinerary. The plan is, on the days he doesn’t work, we’ll explore the sights together and the days he works – which is most of the time – I will be on my own on the streets of Russia with a sketchbook and a map. Mixed feelings! On my own I’d amble along the streets without an itinerary, direction or purpose, just soaking up history and culture as it comes. But trying to record the sights and experiences in sketches, requires planning and a certain amount of alertness. The former is convenient, the latter is revelatory.
Packing for Russia
However, this isn’t the first time I plan to sketch while travelling. I’ve done it before in Cambodia, Japan and Malaysia, though with trepidation and on a very small scale. I was disorganised, clueless and conscious of people watching me and judging my craft. It was more like testing the waters before taking the plunge. If ‘testing the waters’ mean everything from timing my sketches, revising the itinerary to include that time to analysing the patience threshold of my travel companion while I take sketch breaks every 2mins; by ‘the plunge’ I mean an exhaustive record of my trip in sketches, no matter what.
And I am consciously moving towards that other end of the spectrum because for travellers like us, who prefer gallivanting across cities on tight itineraries, adding another element such as sketching slows us down no doubt, but isn’t counter productive.
‘Travelling is like pressing the reset button’, said a travel writer on TV the other day. So, I’m banking on Russia to clear my mind and reboot my machine, so I return home fresh and renewed. Catching a glimpse of Snowden would have been a bonus but we’re landing at the Domodedovo airport.