Tuesday, August 14, 2007

why travel?

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.--St. Augustine

I think some americans idea of travel is drive to the beach where you work on your tan and drink margaritas, but to me, travel means adventure and the little bit of the unknown. Men's health travel writer says that every man should take a solo trip to a foreign country that travel should involve the possibility of discomfort. going to a nice hotel in tokyo, japan doesn't count. I tend to agree because its the travel that you're not catered to where you have to cope that much is learned.

To me, travel had done that for me, particularly solo travel. I love to travel with friends and really this would be my prefernce, but traveling alone means that you are forced to be self sufficient, to interact. There is no crutch.

I grew up as a somewhat timid individual. My parents were old school subscribing to the philosophy of better seen not heard. So most of my life, i have politely avoided asking for much, either trying to do it myself or silently enduring discomforts.

Foreign solo travel changed that for me. If i was lost in a foreign city, i was forced to ask strangers stumbling with putting together a sentence asking for directions. Sometimes people were friendly, sometimes they seemed bothered, but while before i was worried about this, i was spurred on out of necessity.

When I went on my trip to ireland the plan was to fly into dublin for a few nights and then rent a car and drive around the country staying at bed and breakfasts. On the overnight flight I got a case of food poisoning, so i sat uncomfortably unable to sleep the whole night. During the flight, I never asked for any medicine, advil, instead sat stoicly waiting for the flight to be over. Once i got to the dublin airport, i took a bus to dublin where the neareast stop to my hotel was two blocks away. Normally, i feel i'm good with directions, but feeling the after effects of not sleeping and stomach illness, I randomly queried anyone on the street for directions to the hotel. the people i approached were very friendly and i managed to get to the hotel with no problem.

The hotel was a small but quaint independent hotel, not the ritz but nice. When i get there, i'm told that it'll be 3 hours before a room will be available. I asked if there any way to get a room earlier and i'm told no. So i politely ask where i could get a bite to eat and I'm directed to a diner near the hotel. The diner is nothing fancy but the service friendly. I order soup and coffee hoping that this would invigorate me. No such luck. After nearly collapsing on the wooden bench that seemed to be the hardest wood i ever sat on, i took off and went back to the hotel. This time i went back to plead my case. I told the person at the desk, which luckily was a different person, that i had gotten ill on the plane and had not slept for over 24 hours and if there was any way that i could check in early. She called housekeeping and had them clean one room first. I got the keys and slept like a baby. My ireland trip was filled with little moments like that.

Traveling alone means going past your comfort zone. It means talking to the stranger next to you because otherwise you'd have no social interaction. You discover and learn things from doing. Travel makes you do things that you wouldn't have done in your normal comfortable life. Thats why i travel.

1 comment:

Foz said...

What's up, Larry? I dig your blog. I like your story of Ireland here. How 'bout some more?

By the way, why didn't you just drink a guinness? That cures everything when you are in Ireland!