That’s what Susan Sonntag wrote some years ago, and I like it!
I’ve been fortunate, during these last ten years, to escape that oppressive, debilitating, heat of the Gulf region during the height of the summer, and enjoy the more temperate climates of the country of my birth, New Zealand, and/or the United Kingdom (UK), where my daughter has made her home.
We’ve also managed, most years, to take in a ‘cheapie’ trip for a week or ten days to somewhere in Europe, where budget airfares can see UK-based travellers fly to holiday destinations in the European mainland for ludicrous airfares, ranging from RO 5 to RO 50 return. The budget holiday, in the form of a weekend break, a long weekend or even 5, 7, or 10 days is a great concept, and an even better experience.
Actually, I don’t know how they (the travel companies and airlines), do it! Yet Ryanair and Easyjet and their like, appear to be thriving, so there must be a secret to it!
Travel is something that may not be for every society to embrace, but personally I don’t see why not. They do say that, “travel broadens the horizons,” and I feel that’s at the root of most of our global adventures. If we accept that time is valuable, then we should ‘waste’ our leisure time wisely shouldn’t we? And that’s certainly our objective.
So, we’ve travelled the UK extensively, from Glasgow and Edinburgh in the North where the Edinburgh Tattoo specially entranced us with its global military and cultural performances, to the deep south where Cornwall and Plymouth showcase the English Riviera. To the East, the golfing heritage of Musselburgh, and the harborside ambience of Whitley Bay and Amble simply charm, while to the West, the drama and romance that are the two faces of Ireland take you in a very different direction.
Amelia Barr encourages the concept that, “The great differences between voyages rest not with the ships (or planes) you take, but with the people you meet, on them.” We would just expand a little on that and say that the same is true of destinations, and that the people you meet there can ‘make or break,’ your traveler’s experience.
As an example, the attitude of the Venetians to tourists and tourism is appalling. They will take your money quickly enough, with exorbitant prices, and treat you brutally and with shocking service and appalling rudeness, while in Sicily, the so-called home of the mafioso, we found only kindness and genuine joy among our hosts and hostesses.
France for me, was a revelation! I expected reserve, rudeness and arrogance, and found nothing but kindness and a celebration of their renowned ‘joi de vivre.’ I loved it, from the centre of Paris to the winemaking regions of the Alsace. In fact, I spent an entire afternoon in the company of a vintner in Neidermorschweir, which was notable because he spoke no English, and I no French, yet, with mutual interests in wine and rugby a very satisfactory few hours passed.
Thailand, Malaysia, Russia, Kazakhstan, Australia, Morocco, Spain, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hong Kong, South Africa and the Emirates have all offered entertainment and cultural/societal experiences that will shape our future decisions for the rest of our lives, and therein lies their appeal.
The late Anthony Bourdain wrote, “Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. In return, life, and travel, mark you.”
This world has much to offer each of us. Maybe you, as my family and I have, will forsake something of luxury or standing, to see your fellow man and woman in their home, their environment, and add to your own worldliness. From ‘Cloud Atlas’ comes the saying. ‘‘Travel far enough, and you will meet yourself!”