Editor’s note: This is the 2nd of a 3 part posting about Simone’s travels. Today, her general thoughts on the reasons to travel.
Pleasure is often a byproduct of traveling and arrives when you don’t expect it. You may be driving in Germany and come upon the perfect little hotel on a river and it has a room for you. Or you may be wandering in a small town and suddenly you are in the town square where people in colorful costumes are folk dancing. Noticing a beautiful church, you enter and are engulfed in a wave of sound; someone is playing Bach on the organ. You stay and savor it. Another time it could be a wedding taking place and you watch the unfamiliar ritual. None of this has been staged for you. It is just there for your enjoyment.
In the 17th and 18th centuries young aristocrats went on a Grand Tour as a culmination to their education. Traditionally this meant a lengthy journey through Europe to visit the great centers of culture: Paris, Venice, Rome, Florence and more. They were to absorb first-hand the language, art, architecture and history of these fabled places. After Pompeii was discovered, the Grand Tour included a visit to these famous ruins.
Later, at the beginning of the 20th century the travel agent Thomas Cook devised a more informal and democratized Grand Tour for the middle classes. This was the start of organized group travel.
Travel is supposed to broaden your mind. It takes you out of your usual environment. If you live in a busy metropolis you may have a hankering to go “back to nature,” see birds, listen to flowing streams, contemplate high mountain peaks or gaze at grazing sheep. Or you may want to visit different countries to see how other people live to shake you out of your complacency. Often you are faced with unexpected situations, have to confront problems, overcome obstacles, and in the process learn about yourself. This can become a transformative experience.
Sometimes your destination is overshadowed by what happens on the way to getting there.
Some choose to see traveling as an endurance test, to measure how well they perform and thus feel good about themselves. Always there is an element of exploration and discovery. As in novels, the protagonist sets out on a physical journey that becomes a spiritual journey along the way.
A trip can also be a pilgrimage, not necessarily a religious one but a revisiting of places you once knew, or a recapturing of an experience you had like returning to the beaches of Normandy for those who had fought in World War II. And then again you can go back in time and suddenly find yourself in a place far away and in a time long ago.
Next time, another travel story…..