The Good, the Bad, and What You Make of Travel
Discovering new places first hand gives us an opportunity to rethink some of our assumptions. How people live, work, and socialize varies in different parts of the world. How much varies based on our personal culture.
What made us and how we see ourselves, mixes with how we feel to give us a lens through which we see the world.
Wherever you go, there you are. What we find pleasing and displeasing in travel depends very much on our disposition.
The excitement of being there colors everything
My expectations of many places in Italy were upended when I got there – before I went to Genova, I expected the city to be majestic, after all it was one of the city-states. I thought Verona would be more geared to tourists.
If you’re guessing I was surprised on both counts, you’d be right.
I found Genova very approachable, and fun to walk up and down from the port to the museum row. Lunch was some of the best artisanal gelato made with love by a young mom. Like me, Martina loves to eat – she could never leave Italy, because of the culture around food. She combined her two loves – books and food – into a café that got some serious press at opening.
Dinner was her recommendation eaten standing from a non-descript hole in the wall without a store sign where you could meet famous musicians who stop there to grab the fresh panissa and fried anchovies any day of the week.
Verona had so many quiet spots where to soak my romance with water. If you venture just a few minutes away from the city center to and outer churches, you will find lovely piazzas where to have “birra alla spina” (draft beer) or a caffe’ with a panino made to order sitting in the sun – in late December. The city was built inside a river, and Garda Lake is just a short 30-minute ride.
We look for things to do … not so much for opportunities to be
I could have probably gleaned some of this information by taking more time to research both places more in depth. There are so many guides and blog posts online. An overwhelming amount of information to take in and wade through – not much of it conveyed the local mood.
It helps to speak the language, I’ll give you that. But it’s not a deal breaker to connect with a place. Travel is an extension of the journey of life. One that broadens our horizons and is a source of memories and experience.
If we’re welcoming and open to experiment, every market, piazza, store, and street is an opportunity to meet people where they are. And how we are. None of my friends or family travel the way I do – and almost no one travels like anyone else.
Everyone has different reasons why they’re someplace – it could be business, vacation, or anything in between. Goals vary, and so the things we enjoy doing. There’s no right way of traveling, so it’s not something where you’ll fail.
It’s totally up to you. I love being pampered, but I’m also on a budget.
Don’t let the drawbacks decide how you travel
There are plenty of things that could go wrong with travel. Cities and places are not there to pull out a red carpet for you. Taking any mode of transport means we rely on things going according to plan – and we don’t plan to be stuck in an airport, or to miss a train we booked ahead of time.
We may want to get there fast, suffer from jet lag, forget to pack something or lose it in between destinations. Wi-Fi that doesn’t work, stores closed on a weekday… I could go on. Some things are more annoying than others. Travel is not just a means to get someplace. It’s a mindset of exploration where we’re never lost, just on the way.
“We travel, some of us forever, to seek other states, other lives, other souls,” says Anaïs Nin. Isabella Rossellini adds, “I’ve had a lot of ‘aha’ moments, but the big ‘aha’ about growing older is the mental freedom.
Your mileage may vary.
- To travel is to be on a journey in Italian, literally – “viaggiare” and “viaggio”
- An open mind is a free mind, “liberta’ mentale”