Traveling in a different way

i don’t have time for this.

i have so much to do, and it would be so much better for me if i would get my responsibilities done first and then write here, paint my nails, play around on the internet, etc. but, i don’t work like that. nope. i am the best procrastinator that there is (something that drives my wife crazy). but, hey, that’s me. and i always get things done.

anyway, in honor of my next traveling adventure (which begins tomorrow evening!) i am going to post something written by one of my favorite authors, paul coelho. i know that it may sound weird, but even though i am traveling to my home country, to my family, to familiar places & people, i still see it as an adventure. i still see it as an opportunity to learn something or experience something new. it may be a totally different perspective than traveling to a country that i have never visited before, but why not travel to my home country  with open eyes & an open mind, ready to see things in a fresh, new way? my perspective is a bit different now, anyway, you know. my perspective now is that of one who lives in another country, and who visits her home country, which in an of itself teaches me new ways to think about & look at my motherland.

i read somewhere that when you live in another country, you fall more in love with you home country.  and that rings true to me. what i mean is: living in sweden, i am more american. and when in america, i am more swedish. i do not belong in either place, yet i belong in both places. it sounds as if i don’t have a home, or don’t feel comfortable wherever i am. but, on the contrary, i feel that i have 2 homes. 2 countries. confusing. complicated. yet, very cool.

ok. back to the text i am going to post… i must say, that paul coelho has captured exactly how i feel about traveling. and i’m sure that many of you would agree. lina & i do not desire to travel to exotic & new places in order to lounge around (though lounging is good, as i learned at the resort we stayed at in greece last year) and be served in our native language (s). we want to explore, grow, learn, meet, experience. we want adventure – to end up on the wrong side of town, to walk into a seedy bar, to see what real people look like & how they live. this is how we like to travel. this is how we want to travel.

i’m gonna copy & save this article that paul coelho wrote, so that i am reminded that anytime i set off to a new (or old) place, i remember my whole purpose for traveling in the first place. it’s a journey. the world is my classroom. and to feel my soul dancing the most, the only thing i need to do is set off, ready to soak in something new, meet new people,  and expand my horizons. traveling (in a different way) is just what i need to feed that nomad soul of mine.

Traveling in a different way

By Paulo Coelho

When I was very young I discovered that, for me, a journey is the best way to learn. I still have this pilgrim’s soul to this day, and have decided to relate some of the lessons I have learned, in the hopes that they will be useful to other like-minded pilgrims.

1] Avoid museums. This advice may seem absurd, but let us reflect a little together: if you are in a foreign city, isn’t it far more interesting to seek out the present, than the past? Usually, people feel obliged to go to museums, because ever since they were small they have been told that traveling is a search for this type of culture. Of course museums are important, but they require time and objectivity – you need to know what it is you want to see there, otherwise you will come away with the impression that you saw several things which are fundamental to your life, but cannot remember what they were.

2] Frequent bars. Unlike museums, this is where the life of the city can be found. Bars are not discotheques, but places where the people gather to have a drink, pass the time, and are always willing to chat. Buy a newspaper and observe the bustle of people coming and going. If someone speaks to you, strike up a conversation, however banal: one cannot judge the beauty of a path merely by looking at its entrance.

3] Be open and forward. The best tourist guide is someone who lives there, knows everything, but doesn’t work at a travel agency. Go out into the street, choose someone you wish to speak to, and ask him or her for directions (where is such-and-such a cathedral? Where is the post office?) If this bears no fruit, try someone else – I guarantee that in the end you will find excellent company.

4] Try and travel alone, or – if you are married – with your spouse. It will be harder work, no one will be looking after you, but this is the only way of truly leaving your country. Group travel is just a disguised way of pretending to go abroad, where you speak your own language, obey the leader of the pack, and concern yourself more with the internal gossip of the group than with the place you are visiting.

5] Don’t compare. Don’t compare anything – not prices, nor cleanliness, nor quality of life, nor means of transport, nothing! You are not traveling in order to prove you live better than others – your search, in fact, is to find out how others live, what they have to teach, how they view reality and the extraordinary things in life.

6] Understand that everyone understands you. Even if you don’t speak the language, don’t be afraid: I have been in many places in which there was no way of communicating with words, and I always found support, guidance, important suggestions, even girlfriends. Some people think that if you travel alone, you will go out into the street and be lost forever. All you need is the hotel card in your pocket, and – should you find yourself in extreme circumstances – take a taxi and show it to the driver.

7] Don’t buy much. Spend your money on things which you won’t have to carry: good theater, restaurants, walks. Nowadays, with the global market and the Internet, you can have everything you want without having to pay for excess baggage.

8] Don’t try and see the world in a month. It is better to stay in one city for four or five days, that visit five cities in a week. A city is like a capricious woman, who needs time to be seduced and reveal herself completely.

9] A journey is an adventure. Henry Miller said that it is far more important to discover a church no one has heard of, than go to Rome and feel obliged to visit the Sistine Chapel, with two hundred thousand tourists shouting all around you. Go to the Sistine Chapel, but also get lost in the streets, wander down alleyways, feel free to look for something, without knowing what it is. I swear you will find it and that it will change your life.

thank you, paul. now, with that said, i’m off to complete all my work duties. then, it’s time to pack my bags & head off on a new adventure tomorrow. i’m ready to travel, to an old & familiar place, but in a totally different way.

peace & love, my friends.

0 thoughts on “Traveling in a different way

  1. Liz, I cannot express how much I concur with the article and points 1 – 9. I could write so much that relates to why I do agree with each and every point… Maybe instead I’ll form a post about how they do, I love this!

  2. Sounds like great advice! Explains why I am not attracted to tour groups or touism highlights. When I have been an American traveling abroad and hear American English, it is about time to move on!

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