We have been traveling for 16 years now. We started in 1997. I was home schooling my daughters at that time and we had been learning about Europe and the geography and art. We spent a few years on Europe. Then decided it was time to go see for ourselves.
That first trip started an addiction. We went from Pompeii to Paris and everything in between. The first time you do something, if it's really exciting, chills go down your back! Well, we had 2 weeks of chills!! We saw the Vatican, we saw Florence, Pisa,the French Riviera, and Paris!! We were hooked. We went back again and again. We have become history buffs and art historians, and food connoisseurs and wine snobs and fashion snobs. But, mostly we found out that we LOVE Europe,and we found out that we love sharing what we have found in Europe. Not just the awesome food, wine and culture, but what we have found out about ourselves. We found that while we are exploring other cultures, our minds are sorting and sifting through our flotsam and jetsom. And that we aren't as crazy as we thought we were.
I think everyone should go. You need to experience truly great food in Paris. You will never have a bad meal in Paris, no matter where you eat. We have succumbed to eating at McD's, (sorry) and it was GOOD!! And they serve beer in McD's!! The street vendors serve cheese paninis--to die for, really!! In the Louvre you can eat the most amazing Belgian waffles EVER!!! And everywhere you go, you will drink the best wine to hit your lips, the grapes are happier there, that's all there is to it.
It's a revelation to realize that people live without Wally world and survive, and survive better even! And that people are happy and they don't make a lot of money either. They are happy because they have whats important- family, friends, a great pair of Italian shoes, oh no, well maybe, but, definitely, the friends and family part.
Traveling is not new. It has been going on for hundreds of years and for even more reasons. What pushes us to leave our comfort zones? What motivates us to undertake such a journey? To forge ahead, as it were, into “unknown territory”? Very rarely do we go on these expeditions to learn about ourselves, but as we travel to strange lands navigating foreign languages and transit systems we start to see our true character emerge. So whether we travel to keep up with the “Jones” or to learn about history or our own ancestry or maybe for an exposure to a new culture or to reconnect with a loved one, we begin to see ourselves in a new and different light than when we left our little hometowns.
But I highly recommend traveling for the purpose of “finding” ones self. In today’s world we get lost in little “worlds” of our very own, going through the same routine day in and day out. Ordering the same non-fat, no-foam, sugar-free grande soy latte before we head to work. Yelling at our spouse or our children to pick up their dirty clothes till we feel we have completely forgot how to have a normal conversation, let alone listen to our inner voices. And so that is why we should not delay in starting the process of leaving our little “world” for just a short while, to regain our serenity, to re-establish our harmony with the real world around us. We travel to re-connect.
Never should we travel simply to see the highlights. Rather we hunt down clues to see how other people live, to see how the love, how they express themselves, and how they learn. But we don’t stop there. We want to know where they came from, as well as our own history. What did it take for these people to become who they are today? What kind of trials did they go through? What avenues did they employ for self-expression? How did they measure prosperity? Wealth? Education? What were their views on family life? What kind of pressures did they face day to day? And ultimately we can ask ourselves “Can I relate to these people?”… Most likely we will find many areas where our lives mirror theirs. But we will also find areas where we lack something that they have mastered, something we long for. A connection with the world the live in perhaps, or a simplicity in life that we recongnize we need. Never should we try to bring our culture into a strange land. We travel to experience something new, not to force our habits into a world where they do not belong. It can be extremely difficult for some of us to leave our comforts at the airport terminal but we must try. It is crucial to our reconnection. How de we accomplish this? By using our senses thoroughly. And this will take a fair amount of humility on our part. It will require that we leave our “inside the box” thinking behind, as well as our expectations. Expectations can potentially hinder our senses and render them confused. Rather we open our eyes to the nuances of our surroundings, take deep breathes as often as possible to absorb the culture that reveals itself in the food, through the cobblestone and feel the emotion emanating from the beautiful sculpted fountains and lastly never forget to listen, listen to the speech of those around you and how it falls into a rhythm, a rhythm of their way of life.