01 February 2012

the romance of travel

As most of you know, I had the amazing opportunity to travel to Spain and complete my student teaching there.  Afterwards I traveled through 5 other countries in Western Europe and was lucky enough to go back once more about 3 years later, to the Czech Republic.  I often reminisce of travel, especially European travel.  The small cobblestone streets, the pocket cafes and street vendors.  The accordion players filling the alleys with their wistful tunes and time travel to centuries past.  Small plazas, fountains, squares and walled cities that are not tainted by modernity.  I long to hear the sparkling sounds of life in another language and art and history filling my surroundings.  We have a totally different landscape here in the US, especially in these Western parts.

When life seems complicated; when I get sick of driving hundreds of miles by car and when I want a quaint but not snobby or stuck up coffee experience or when I simply long for newness set amidst history, I long for my days in Europe.

Months ago I picked up a book titled: Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik.  Immediately I was drawn to it since it mentioned Paris, one of my favorite places that I visited.  Now, admittedly Gopnik is not exactly writing from a starving artist's perspective (he's a writer for the New Yorker and his wife a screen writer), however, the way that Gopnik talks about the romance of not just France, but specifically Paris, brings back all of my sentimental emotions and totally unrealistic dreams about living elsewhere.  While I have only read about the first 25 pages (plus prologue) I was totally enamored by the following paragraph which couldn't have summed up my feeling about travel any more articulately:

"There are two kinds of travelers.  There is the kind who goes to see what there is to and sees it, and the kind who has an image in his head and goes out to accomplish it.  The first visitor has an easier time, but I think the second visitor sees more.  He is constantly comparing what he sees to what he wants, so he sees with his mind, and maybe even with his heart, or tries to....."

It is a beautiful way to explain the perspectives people have on travel, what they look for and feel and ultimately the experience they'll have.  If you cannot guess, I am the one who has an image in mind.  I scour the travel books ahead of time, read blogs or online articles and google my little heart out.  And then after (mostly) everything is planned, I set off on my adventure to fill my heart.  Often there are bumps and misconceptions along the way but ultimately a good time is had by all (including me).

Lately, probably since I have a toddler, I have dreamed of Europe and of cobblestone streets and Medovnik cake (honey cake from the Czech Republic).  Who knows if and when I will go again but I can assure you that when the time is right, I will have my image in mind and do everything I can to fill my heart.

To all your adventures, both at home and afar.

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