My Thoughts On Travel
Many travel guides, and experts preach “go off the beaten path” – immerse yourself in the places that you visit! Yes it’s a cliché – – but guess what! They are spot on right!
The most important part of travel is in my opinion the interaction you have with your destinations. I mean mingling with the people – – hiking their beautiful hillsides and mountains – – driving along a small road in Tuscany, stopping in a mom and pop store or cafe . . . sitting in an intimate campo, piazza or square – – – and something I’m doing more and more of these days and really enjoying it . . . .learning about and appreciating the many beautiful art that can be found in the magnificent museums around the world and also that can be found in the beautiful churches like those found in Venice Italy (thanks in large part to the influence of two SlowTravelers, AnnieNC and Sandrac)! It’s funny because when I was a freshman in college I loved studying art and history, but over the years I forgot about how much I once enjoyed it. It’s like rediscovering my love for it again, only now I’m experiencing it while traveling.
In my 2005 trip to Italy I went to hike the very beautiful trails of the Cinque Terre. A fun adventure that I would never had previously thought of doing until I visited a Website called Slow Talk which is a travel Website and community that was created by founder Pauline Kenny. One of the members recommended that I stay in the small fishing town of Vernazza. It was this experience that made me realize that I was in fact a traveler and not just an average tourist. So what is the difference between a Tourist and a Traveler? Well, a Tourist “visits” and a Traveler “experiences” the countries they travel to. It is in my opinion a huge difference.
In Cinque Terre – – I got out there and hiked all five trails. Along the way we stopped to converse with a local selling his homemade wine. We greeted the local wine and olive growers we saw along the trails with a smile and a Buon Giorno. We dipped our feet in the cool Mediterranean waters and participated in Monterroso’s Annual “Lemon Festival.”
During our stay in Vernazza, one of the best part of my days were spent in the early morning hours before sunrise. I would get out and walk around. I smelled the aroma of the one bakery in town. Said Buon Giorno to the locals washing down the street and to the baker setting up their shop for the hoards of day trippers who will visit their town. Across from the bakery, a local woman sets up her stand made up of two crates and a piece of wood going across them for a table to put her fresh vegetables. The other locals would be out greeting her and chatting while they pick out their vegetables. Daily life can be fun to observe and experience when traveling.
These kinds of experiences will become a part of who you are and how you view and live your life. Something that you can’t put in a photo album, write in a blog or place on your bookcase for everyone to admire. Well, okay maybe it is something you can convey in your blog or Website.
In 2005, I gained a new found respect for the simplicity of life. I think the Europeans understand this concept much more than we Americans. After this trip, I realized that life is quite simple in Europe. As well it should be. People tend to make things in life more difficult and complicated.
In 2006, I learned about the “magic” of travel. I went completely solo for the very first time. No group tour, no travel companion, completely independent and I had a blast. I learned that my travel experiences (whether I go it solo or with a travel companion) is completely what I make of it.
In 2007, I spent two weeks in Venice, Italy with day trips to neighboring towns like Ravenna. I rented an apartment in a real neighborhood and I actively participated in a local fiesta/tradition. This trip changed my travel style forever. I have become a “Slow Traveler.” Check out this great Travel Site and be prepared to learn the true magic of Traveling.
In 2008, I traveled for three weeks in Spain where I learned about diversity of culture, religion, art and architecture. I admire the Spanish for their beautiful music, flamenco dance, traditions and their history. Let’s not forget their fabulous cava and tapas and very friendly locals. Here while I slipped into my tourist mode, an older Spanish local gentleman, stopped me while I was walking along the street with a Grande cup of Starbucks Coffee I had just purchased. He took the time to lecture me about drinking local Spanish Coffee rather than my American coffee. I felt like a schmuck but I so appreciated the great lesson and gift he gave to me of appreciating where I was and living in the moment.
In 2009, I traveled to Scotland and drove for the first time on the left side of the road. This is an amazing place to visit with many great opportunities for hiking, admiring art in their many museums that are free to the public. I enjoyed driving the very beautiful and famous Road to the Isles and seeing those Highland Cows and very cute sheep that roam the hillsides and yes often times the single track roads on the Isle of Skye. Here while staying in these small villages and towns, I learned about the slow and simple life style of living in the Highlands of Scotland. I learned to appreciate nature and was amused by the friendly nature of the Scottish people.