Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Let's Keep Planning Travel -- I Love your Responses!

I've got a bit of a problem here on the blog.  As you know, I've been trying to redirect some of my writing energy and time to a personal project. Yet I still want to post at least twice a week, and then when I do, it's really tough not to spend too much time answering all your great comments. As well, at the moment we have a granddaughter staying with us for the week, so there's been less free time than usual. Suddenly it's Wednesday, and I realise I haven't responded to comments left on Monday, a much longer gap than what I like to aim at, but a lag I'm afraid I've been drifting toward increasingly.

The solution that occurred to me as something I might try occasionally is to turn my comment-responding into a post of its own. After all, I quite often end up writing 500 to 1000 words just chatting with you below your comments, and I sometimes find myself wishing that I could post my responses here because your feedback can often invite some new thinking on a topic.

And sometimes you say such great things that I want to be sure everyone checks out the conversation.

This conversation about travel plans, real and imaginary, accomplished and aspirational, for example, is quite splendid. Many of you are experienced travelers, and you've got pins all over the globe -- Sue, Wendy from York, Eleonore, Leslie in Oregon. Some want to stick pins in some very cool places with itineraries worthy of dreams -- Anne's list is so great I want to buy her bundles of lottery tickets and I'd get her to share with Linda Bruce; looks like they're planning to team up anyway. Some of you are currently holding back because of dogs (which is reaffirming my husband's wisdom in resisting the temptation for the time being, although . . . ).  Some are keeping the travel a bit closer to home for now (luckiest are those of you with great travel destinations only an hour or two from home -- we're curtailed considerably at the moment, not so interested in crossing a border that's proving restrictive to friends and neighbours -- sometimes one's privilege comes to seem odious).

And we are a rather privileged bunch right here, on the whole, although not odious sorts at all. Travel-wise, at least, I mean, many of us, like myself, having already booked, or in the early stages of planning, upcoming trips to a number of different spots -- Germany, Budapest, Prague, Belgium,  Normandy. I wonder if this might be a peak age or stage for travel -- the resources are finally available, for some of us (budget, freedom from work and childcare), and we realise that fitness and the company of our favourite traveling partners don't come with a lifetime guarantee. . . We're making travel hay, so to speak, while the sun shines.

Dottoressa (whom many of you justifiably hope I might be going to meet -- and want to come along for the trip if that's my destination) reminds us of the tension between our privilege and the plight of many who are unable to travel (or who do so involuntarily, under difficult circumstances) because of personal responsibilities, because of physical limitations, or because of political constraints or, even, because of cataclysmic events. But although she's had years when travel possibilities were very limited, she's managed a long life list of places visited, quite inspiring. (I'm also inspired by the three sections of Eleonore's Travel Notebook, which I suspect is virtual/imaginary, but which makes a splendid model for categorising itineraries.)

As always, in reading through the comments, I'm delighted to see smaller conversations being struck amidst the larger one, tentative cyber-bonds being formed, travelling companions pairing up, if only for imaginary journeys. I'd love to see the conversation continue, either in the comments of this post or back on Sunday's. I almost closed this post off (I have to wake someone up soon, or she'll be late for school) without drawing attention to Leslie in Oregon's comment about traveling through books and conversation -- I suspect many of us do this. What else have I forgotten to highlight in those comments?

I think I should also mention the many different social approaches to travel: some of you travel on your own, some with husbands, but others travel with friends or sisters or even join groups in hopes of sharing a trip with like-minded adventurers.

Finally (I really need to open her door now, begin making some sounds, turn on a light or two), I should answer Leslie in Oregon's question, so that your guesses between now and Friday's reveal can be better informed. I hadn't known the difference between a Direct Flight and a Non-Stop one, but our flight to a European City from the city of our departure (and that's not hard to guess at, is it?) is non-stop.

Okay, time to run. Today's a bit goofy -- after we drop Granddaughter at school, we have an hour with our new personal trainer, and then we zip out to our French lesson, a half-hour drive away. It's too busy a morning for me, and the schedule will be more manageable next week, but let's just say Nana's planning a big nap this afternoon. Meanwhile, though, at least I've caught up with our travel conversation. . . now it's over to you to keep it going. Have a good day! 

17 comments:

  1. I am so fortunate in that I have a friendship that began in the first grade that is still active! My friend Jean and I felt hurried and harried as our teen aged daughters were in the throes of teen aged angst as we were grappling with a significant (50) birthday. We pledged to do a "getaway" with each other- no spouses allowed- every five years to refresh ourselves. It was the first purely selfish act I could recall while being a Mom. Our first trip was a river cruise in France for a week. It was heaven, and we've never looked back. Our last big adventure was to Thailand and Cambodia. We are currently planning a big one to South America. We both like to hike, and have now narrowed our "trip window" to every 3 years. We figure we might not have that many REALLY taxing trips (hiking in the Andes) ahead of us at our ages. In any case- these trips have replenished me in a way that traveling with a spouse does not. I don't have to "take care" of anyone but me. My friend and I understand each other- we allow each other space and don't make the presumptions that a spouse sometimes will. My husband and I have had many vacations together that I treasure- but not in the same way that these "friends only" trips do.

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    1. This is such a great comment, BuffaloGal -- it really validates my choice of a post that highlights the conversation here rather than my own words. I love turning over the mic to readers because between you, I think we all get a fuller view of the potential of Women Our Age (as very diverse as we are). I've always felt very lucky that I have a spouse with whom I'm happy to travel, but increasingly, I see the value of replenishing (your word, a great one here) parts of myself that might not get attention on a husband-and-wife trip but that flourish in a friend's presence. The trips you're making with your friend (and a friend who's known you for so long -- what a treasure!) are big commitments as well, and adventures you can then share with your husband back home -- where he also benefits from your renewed energy and worldview.

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    2. I really like your comment about my travels allowing me to "bring something back" to the relationship with my husband. I believe that he appreciates my independence and the fact he is not pressured to be my only travel companion. He is not at all interested in remote places in the same way that I am. My friendship with my friend allows me to explore these locations without pressuring him to be a part of it. He is a wonderful "appreciator" of my photos and memories when I return. Good men and good friends are hard to find- I am so lucky I found both, and that I husbanded my resources well enough when I worked to be able to afford to travel now.

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  2. It's obvious that we commenters are a well travelled lot . Apart from possible financial constraints it is very easy to travel now . Masses of planes whizz you off to far away places & the internet makes research effortless . You can join a group of like minded strangers too , if need be . But might there be a real downside ? So many places are dreadfully crowded & mass tourism must alter them . I understand that the residents of Barcelona are unhappy about their never ending visitors , Iceland is overwhelmed at times & I keep out of my own local city in August . My father used to speak nostalgically of his travels around Europe in the 1930s & it sounded very different to our Europe of the 1970s onwards - so much more 'foreign' somehow . On the other hand , travel makes you realise we are all citizens of the world with the same hopes & aspirations , which must be a good thing & tourist spending benefits local economies . It's tricky . Just thought I'd throw that in to the discussion :)
    Wendy in York

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    1. I ask the same questions myself, Wendy. They're uncomfortable to confront, because I'm not willing to give up travel, I selfishly admit, but there are some undeniable downsides for the planet as well as for the effects on local populations. As you point out, there are some benefits as well, and we can try to be considerate, respectful, environmentally conscious travellers, but I think sometimes of graffiti I saw scrawled on a wall, in Lisbon I think: Tourists are Terrorists. . . . I'm pleased to see that Barcelona's mayor is taking a strong stand to restrict tourism, to protect residential areas for Barcelona's own citizens. . . But you're right, it is definitely tricky, definitely yet another balancing act...

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  3. The older I get, the more interested I am in seeing more of the world before it gets too difficult. There are already too many places that are becoming inaccessible because of conflict, disease, terrorism and the move towards Brexit has chillingly set in chain a process that will limit my freedoms to live (theoretically) in Europe, even though I am a European. I couldn't care less about visiting glamorous resorts or cruising or being hedonistic (Sandals! Yikes!!!) but being allowed to potter about the planet is surely a basic right? And tourism is a double-edged sword but nobody can deny the huge amounts of money that pour into major destinations. At heart, we are all still nomads, designed to stroll about for 5-10 miles a day and we deny this at our peril. My dream? To live economically with Mr G in a small flat which we can shut up and leave safely while we pursue our travels. Maybe in a couple of years we can do that. For now: I shall dream and plan. And obviously pal up with Linda for the Samarkand trip. If she brings the plasters, I'll bring the travel sweets.

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    1. It's a deal! I always pack plasters, so we're well on the way to nailing organisation for our 'Samarkand lite' trip.

      Agree on the ghastly Brexit fears. On my to do list for today is "write to Jean-Claude Juncker/Donald Tusk to ask if I can buy European citizenship for my children'.

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    2. All good points -- and I must say you two will make a great team!
      I think tourism would be much less destructive if more of us thought it like "pottering about the planet," Anne, and if we took it at that pace. I worry about the proliferation of budget airlines, the wonderful ease offered by RyanAir, EasyJet and the like -- train travel is so much kinder to the planet, but is being abandoned because of hours saved. . . and if only there were more opportunities to do meaningful walks, accessibly. Our experience would be deeper and we'd gain exercise to balance the holiday eating. . . ;-)

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  4. Really interesting questions and conversation. The weight of tourism in some areas does submerge what people have come to see. Like Wendy in York, I keep out of the centre of my own city in August. Not because I dislike tourists, just because it takes much longer to get anywhere in a purposeful way. I'm studying tourism theories this year as part of my course in tourist guiding, and there's quite a contradiction building up in global tourism in that people are increasingly wanting to make meaningful connections with local people (especially North American tourists), but of course this is less likely under a deluge of mass tourism.

    My husband and I prefer travelling off-season - partly because as thrifty Scots we appreciate the lower prices, and partly because places are less crowded, it's easier to have these meaningful interactions, and overall you see more of the normal life of a place. This can have disadvantages, e.g. Sweden doesn't open fully for the summer until late June, so that charming cafe you think you might stop at for fika may still be shut. Once I find work in tourism we won't be able to take summer holidays until I retire, but since we'll have moved north and will have a large garden to tend, with hopefully a very productive soft fruit and veg part, I think I'll be quite content to stay put in the summer and save travelling for the shoulder seasons.

    Incidentally, with our shared love of Bordeaux, the impact of the TGV line on Bordeaux will be something to watch.

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    1. Yes Linda , I don't bear our visitors any ill will & realise I am fortunate to live here . The city is changing though . The small individual shops have mostly gone , to be replaced by cafes & coffee shops . You might struggle to meet a local to chat to in high season , which has always been an important part of my travels .
      Wendy in York

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    2. Yes, the off season, quieter and slower approaches to the places we visit, and at least attempting to try the more modest but perhaps more typical smaller shops and restaurants that still exist. Instead, we too often bring our preference for places that profit at the expense of the local. We make room for franchises to push the other shops out and raise the cost of real estate beyond locals' means.... And yes, Linda, I'm quite conscious that our days of visiting Bordeaux may be moving beyond our price range -- and the city may change beyond what drew us there. . .

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  5. Yes, the early retirement stage is the prime travel period, at least as far as more extensive travel goes. I worked with a major US travel tour company who showed me the stats; that was how they designed their products: the right kind of trip for "the young old." I have definite cognitive dissonance about it; I enjoy travel but also see that we (humans) have overrun some areas and endangered their ecology. Seeing travel as a form of consumption is important to me, to make choices. And i also know that if I had vast means it would override my conscience :)

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    1. I love your honesty, K, and I must say that I'm not sure where my ethics would land either if my wallet were fatter. Camel and needle's eye and all that. Cognitive dissonance indeed. . .

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  6. It's fun to live vicariously through others travel and as well as through books and movies. We're on hold now waiting to see if I need major surgery this summer. Even if I don't, I have not managed to find enough joy in seeking out the limited number of foods I can eat in other places. I'm working hard to adjust because I want to return to Africa, and Asia and see new sights in Europe. Any advice on how to travel with a severely restricted menu is appreciated!

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    1. That's really tough, Lynn. For so many of us, exploring new cuisines is part of the fun of travel, but dietary restrictions flip that equation, and you must travel with constant apprehension about the discomfort and pain you'll experience if you don't pay attention. I hope someone here might have a few suggestions for you.

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  7. The most important aspect of travel for me is language. I do not feel at ease if I cannot talk to people in the street (or read a newspaper), at least in a rudimentary fashion. That determines my choice of destinations and is the only reason why I have never, until now, visited Greece, although there are plenty of reasons to do so.

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    1. This is really important for me as well, and it's a big part of why Paul and I keep returning to France, where we can both speak the language. Between our French and our English, we can muddle through in quite a few European countries, and I'm building some rudimentary Italian which has served me for basics, just for feeling I can make a connection with my fellow humans beyond a smile. With a bit more free time now, I hope to pick up rudiments in another language or two in future, but my clock's a-ticking and I suspect my languages and my countries are mostly listed for this lifetime. . . ;-)

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I'd love to hear your response to my post. Agree, disagree, even go off on a tangent, I love to know you're out there, readers. Let's chat, shall we? I apologize, though, for the temporary necessity of the Word Verification -- spam comments have been tiresomely numerous lately, and I'm hoping to break that pattern.

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