“Why do you like to travel?” Tricia is writing a post for her blog Travels Through My Lens about why people like to travel, and pondering why some don’t have any desire to travel; she wanted a quote from me. It got me thinking. My initial response was:
“What I like about travel is feeling immersed, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before.”
That does encapsulate the essence of why I may get tired while traveling, yet never tire of traveling. Her question got me thinking about what attracts me most to other places. It all comes down to three things:
Mornings are my favorite time of day, the best part of the evening is going to bed so I can get up in the morning. When I travel, alone or with Tricia, most mornings I either quietly have tea in the room while she sleeps, or, more frequently I head out to a cafe. One of the first things I do when we get to a hotel, or a BnB, is to scope out a coffee shop. Before going to bed I lay out my clothes, reading materials, and sketching kit so I can quietly get dressed and leave, hopefully without waking Tricia.
At the cafe I feel like a local, most tourists take vacation as an opportunity to sleep-in, I don’t begrudge them that for a moment, it just keeps my morning less crowded; if I sleep in until 0800, even 0700, I feel like I have missed the best part of the day.
In the cafe there is time to read some news, the Morning Office, a book. I might explore a map planning the day’s adventures, specifically focusing on a good place to eat lunch, which is usually the high point of our day. Cafes, bistros, and restaurants are a priority for us, and an important part of why I travel.
Then, settled in, it is time for a sketch. In Robion, a couple of years ago I went to the same cafe every morning, did four sketches, one each morning. Each was from the same table, just facing a different direction.
The cathedrals and temples in the world are worth visiting. Of course the magnificent ones – Notre Dame in Paris, the Duomo in Florence, Bath Abbey in England – are awe inspiring, but they are too crowded for my taste. (Visit early or late to avoid crowds – Friday Prayers at Bath Abbey is my recommendation)
Gordes is one of those places in France I love to visit, sadly so does every other tourist who goes Provence, so I am faced with the crowds. Just off the circle at the center of town is Eglise Saint-Firmin, a small and in need of sprucing up cathedral. Never crowded, a bit dark, always quiet. A few minutes sitting spent on the old and warn pews, considering the icons and flickering red candles, triggers all kinds of reflections on what is important in life.
Grand gardens and parks are just variations on cathedrals, as are mountains and vistas. My mind is freed up to be creative, for introspection, peace and meditation. Next to morning cafes and midday restaurants Cathedrals of stone or nature are the best part of travel.
Pretty obvious that this is a priority for me. Sketching allows me to connect with the place, it forces me to slow down and really observe – the colors of the building, the shapes, the people and what they wear. In the time I am sketching I am completely immersed in the terroir of where I am. Later, when I flip through a sketchbook, a bit of the feeling comes back, it is like being there all over again. Those sketches of Robion renew those wonderful morning cafes.
Tricia’s Quote Expanded
I think I need to give Tricia a more complete quote:
What I like about travel is immersion, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before. I may get tired while traveling, yet never tire of traveling. It all comes down to three things: Cafes, where I connect with the locals, cathedrals, where I am inspired, and sketching, where I capture the moment while creating a memory.