Travel As A Marinade, Not A Spritzer
Beyond the tops, the 5 bests, the must do’s and the bucket lists that most travel sites hype, there is a pace of travel that is not based on glimpse snatches and ticked lists.
Smart travelers drop the “I want to see everything…now” syndrome and plan half as much, to be done twice as well.
Watching the panicked tour-led sprint of many tourists, it is easy to conclude that seeing everything and learning nothing is the ethos of many rocket fueled vacations. These folks are travelling for their neighbors, not themselves, building brag sheets as thin in substance as the pictures they snap.
I remembered the time when we were still in our regular jobs and would visit projects, sometimes in 3 countries in a week.
We were in many cities but missed having any sense of the place. We had all the visuals and none of the understanding. We saw everything and learned nothing.
Eventually, we became jaded travelers zooming through Europe driving through city after city. Once, Grumpy only realized we were in Carrera when he saw the sign saying Arrivederci Carrera. Driving through Luxembourg, we missed it completely.
Another time, we arrived in Venice, took the boat that was close to the parking lot at that time, stayed in the boat until it arrived back where we were parked. We looked at each other and off we went to the car to take the 5 key pictures in Firenze.
We covered a lot of real estate that time, ticked every box and learned absolutely nothing. As penance we did go back to Venice 2 more more times, stayed longer, wandered, sat and drank wine, talked, and just enjoyed the place.
We strolled to a different piazza each day, parked ourselves in one of the smaller al fresco drinkeries and watched tired tourists battling with their maps, their guides, their cameras while we did the full soak.
The waiters always chatted. Locals sitting nearby often chipped in. Everyone had a nephew in…..pick your North American City…… The local football team was always outstanding. It was not only relaxing but much more satisfying.
For want of a better term, I would call this Marinade Tourism. You find a great place on the street…or in a museum or outside a temple or cathedral…and you sit, you soak yourself in it, you watch and listen and let the flavours get under your skin...and, think a bit.
Relax and look at the details. Pretend you’re a painter looking for the feeling around you as well as the visuals. OK..OK..OK..read a bit of the guide book for context and identify buildings and the stories that are attached to them. In Venice, find the Doge and Shylock.
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