“The traveler sees what he sees.
The tourist sees what he comes to see.”
~ G. K. Chesterton
Ask yourself this question. Do you consider yourself to be a Traveler or a Tourist? The question is simple enough and yet it took me several years, several trips and the generosity of some very special Slow Travelers to find the answer.
I am someone who is passionate about Travel. So naturally when I travel to somewhere I want to be able to see and to experience everything from A to Z so I won’t feel like I am missing out on something. It has taken me years to learn this, but what I have come to realize is that even if I were able to see and to experience everything from A to Z, I can actually still miss out on something . . .
And that something is the true joy of travel. And what is the true “joy” of travel? Well, that’s something that you’ll have to discover on your own because it will be different for everyone. For me:
. . . it is sitting in a bar/cafe and chatting with the bartender
. . . it is attending mass in a beautiful Venetian church (thanks to fellow Slow Traveler, AnnieNC)
. . . or sitting in a large campo eating a cup of gelato and watching life unfold before me
. . . it is fulfilling a childhood dream by visiting the town and places where the movie, Sound of Music, was filmed
. . . it is standing at the Prado Museum studying a great piece of artwork called “Las Meninas“, painted by the very talented Spanish artist, Diego Velasquez
. . . it is participating in a traditional festival honoring a patron saint for the city/town I’m visiting
. . . it is watching a beautiful Spanish dance called Flamenco
. . . and it is standing in the cold rain and wind trying to capture that “perfect” photograph of a beautiful Highland Cow.
It is in these experiences and interactions that we get while traveling to other countries that are the most meaningful. These experiences and more move us emotionally, spiritually and gives us knowledge of so many things and of cultures that we never knew about. When you find the joy in your experiences, then you are and have become a true traveler.
One of the most embarrassing and yet memorable experiences I had while traveling helped me to realize this concept . . .
In 2008, when I was traveling in Spain for the first time I had just arrived by train from Madrid in Sevilla. As soon as I dropped off my luggage in my apartment, I went exploring around town. After my time exploring I decided to return to the apartment to finish unpacking. I eyed a corner Starbucks when I first ventured around and decided to stop in to get a large (Grande) size cup of Americano Coffee before heading back to my apartment.
I was walking down this side street when an older Spanish local gentlemen stopped me. He was talking to me in Spanish which I could not quite make out but recognized a few words. I realized by his pointing at my Grande cup of Starbucks Americano that he did not agree with my choice. He asked Donde or where I was from and I smiled and said California. He said a few more words, pointed to the nice cafe/restaurant behind him, then to my cup and smiled. I then realized that he was lecturing me about coming to Spain and then rather than drinking their delicious Spanish coffee I was drinking a Grande cup of Starbucks Americano. I finally understood. And I mean to say that I finally understood. I smiled and then thanked him for his great lesson to me. When I got back to my apartment I did drink the rest of my coffee but that would be the last that I would have from Starbucks during my one week stay in Sevilla. From that Point on I went into the cafe that the gentlemen pointed out and had a very delicious cup of Spanish coffee, a small cup of fresh orange juice and a spanish breakfast (recommended by fellow Slow Traveler, Maria), which consisted of a toasted bread with tomato and olive oil sprinkled on top. Very delicious!
I am proud to say that I have finally become a true Traveler . . .