Wednesday, September 11, 2019
Still Waiting for those Golden Years: Travel is an interesting challenge
This summer we took our first trips to the European continent. We first visited Spain for two weeks and then spent almost a month touring other European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany. According to the travel brochures promoting tours, travel is supposed to "leave marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body." (See Bourdain, Anthony. 2011. No reservations: around the world on an empty stomach. New York: Bloomsbury.) Well, I can agree with the part about leaving marks on your body. Travel is hard work.
I have yet to buy into the "selfie community." I don't take photos of myself at every event of my life. In fact, I seldom post anything online about my life or personal experiences. The few times that I have, I have learned to regret my decision. This statement might seem somewhat strange from a person who has a huge internet presence on all types of social media, but writing and writing about myself are two different things. Even with this said, you can certainly figure out where I have been by looking at all my photos on WalkingArizona.blogspot.com.
One thing I have seen while traveling in Europe and elsewhere is that travel today is certainly about the older population and cruises and tours are certainly not lacking for participants. The United States may see a lot of travel, but the residents of the Far East are certainly well represented. This is even more interesting when you realize the costs involved in traveling around the world.
Is travel educational? Well, when we choose to do so, we travel with the general population of the countries we visit. We use public transportation when available and I don't recall ever purchasing a first-class ticket. During my life, I have spent many more days camping with a tent than I have staying in four-star hotels or even three-star hotels. In fact, I have probably spent more time camping on the ground without a tent than I have spent in any kind of star hotel. You get a different perspective of large cities when you ride the subways, light rail, and bus systems and you also get a feel for what it takes to live in a large city where buying food and making enough money to buy it is a major challenge.
I happen to have spent most of my life in an area that is promoted as a tourist destination. I always felt, and still do to some extent, that if people were paying to visit where I lived, then why should I pay to go somewhere else? As a result, I have spent almost all my vacation and travel time in Utah and Arizona. What did I think of Europe? Well, the trip is helping me to see that the United States is falling way behind in supporting our transportation and communication infrastructure. We have nothing to compare with the long-distance trains in Europe or the major cities' public transportation systems. Although that said, the subways in Paris are about the same as those in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C.
Would I consider going on another tour? Well, yes. The tour experience was actually quite good. You give up some flexibility and may not stay at some attractions as long as you wish but you would never see everything in a tour itinerary if left up to your own devices.
What did I see in Europe that impressed me the most? I would have to say that one of the most remarkable things I saw was the number of bicycles in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Next, I was very impressed by Switzerland as a whole and since I love mountains, it was a treat to see the Alps. But I am always glad to get back home and get back to work.