Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in you sail. Explore. Dream. Discover.~ Mark Twain
We took Mark Twain’s words to heart and began our adventure this year. We started in Europe–staying in countries we have visited before and loved. But this time, we decided to go beyond the typical tourist experience.
Instead of peering through the windows of a bus at famous sites, we want to try to understand other cultures as much as we can by living in neighborhoods, eating what the locals eat, shopping in their markets, and learning their languages.
Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.~Paul Thoreau
This type of travel goes beyond a checklist of famous sights. It’s living like the locals do. Some days we go to the park. This shot was taken in the Villa Borghese.
The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeing new landscapes, but in having new eyes. Marcel Proust
We frequently stop at a cafe for a cappuccino. (By the way, you can get cappuccino any time of the day in Italy–despite what the guidebooks say!)
We take long walks because that’s a great way to get to know a place. Each city has its own quirks, customs and contradictions.
To travel is to discover that everyone is wrong about other countries. Aldous Huxley
It’s also realizing that guidebooks can be wrong sometimes. For example, despite what the experts say, jeans, tee shirts, and sneakers are as common here as they are in the United States.
Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.~Mark Twain
Most of all, it’s about recognizing automatic judgments, which are convenient and quick, but superficial. (True Confession: One of my pet peeves is about tourists who are only interested in taking shots of themselves in front of famous monuments. I remind myself that it’s true of some tourists, but not ALL of them.)
The complete “picture” of other people and other cultures is far more nuanced and complex. It develops over time. Stereotypes come from the lazy part of our brain that doesn’t want to take the time and effort to parse the truth. In fact, it’s difficult to understand anyone–including ourselves.
Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life. Jack Kerouac
And that brings me to the last point. The journey is life. The journey is learning about ourselves–our strengths and weaknesses–so we can be more open to life, to experiences, to other people.
As we continue through Europe, I’m looking forward to sharing our experiences, insights, and photographs with you. It will be fun to travel this road together.
Where would you go if you could go on your ideal trip? Have you ever lived in another country for a while? What did you learn about the country, people and yourself?