With apologies to Robert Louis Stevenson.
Is there a place in the world you never want to visit? Where, and why not?
There was a time when I believed that travel was not for me. I had no wanderlust and really could not understand why, with all that Great Britain has to offer, anybody would need to travel abroad. There are still so many parts of the UK that I have not visited and would love to see but I did finally get myself a passport when I turned 40.
Not that the passport saw much use; mainly through economic considerations, I suppose.
My passport has timed out now and has not been renewed, but the small amount of travel that I have done has led me to wish that I might do more.
When I think of travel, it is always to temperate, cool, or downright chilly climes. All of the places that I long to see and explore are well outside of the tropics. I am not attracted by sun or sand; take me to Scandinavia, to Alaska, to the Antarctic, please. Offer me an all-expenses paid luxury trip to any destination in the world and my mind will not leap towards the sun unless led there in time, by other considerations.
The travel that I have done has taught me enough to know that I find Culture fascinating, and especially Food Culture. I think I would go anywhere if led by tales of sumptuous art, magnificent architecture,and splendiferous food! In other words, I would cope with the heat if I had to in order to explore the other facets of a country. My youthful claims of “I would never go to India/Africa/The Mediterranean/etc.” have been tempered by experience and age. Of course I would go – for short periods and if I only had the resources…
It would be madness not to! I would never (now) turn down any opportunity to travel anywhere at all.
In fact, I have mellowed so much with age that I would now even visit America. I think. The problem with America is, so far as I can see, that one has to pass through the bits that one would not want to visit, in order to reach those parts that one does. So, while I would never wish to see New York or LA, or any large centre, I can’t really, for example, get up in the Rockies without at least passing through a large airport.
Also, maybe, I don’t want to visit anywhere that brings out the snob in me… Yes, you know what is coming, please don’t take me to the Costas. Sun oil and chip oil and lager louts. Ugh.
Please don’t take me anywhere the Club 18-30 is staying, either.
If I travel, it is to meet the local people, eat the local food, have the local experiences. I want to stay in a small off-the-beaten-track establishment and not in a chain hotel. I do not want to go anywhere that caters for English tourists. I want to be forced to try my language skills out and improve them.
In general, my notion of travel is not about visiting a place. It is about the getting there. Travel as both Process and Product. I’m not one for rushing about, being squashed in a plane and bored to tears, hurrying to a single place where I am then indolent for two weeks. I would be happier taking a week to get somewhere and then simply turn about and travel home by the alternative route. Just pop me on a cross-Continental train, a whale-watching Arctic cruise, or a slow boat to China and arm me with a journal and a camera and I will be the happiest little traveller in the world. I could truthfully answer this prompt with a single word answer “nowhere” so long as I am simply passing through (and there is potable water.)
Having said all this, there is one travel experience that I shall never, ever repeat, and that is the bus trip that I took from Yorkshire to the Continental Christmas Markets of Germany, Belgium and The Netherlands. It was Hell on Earth. I won’t go, and you cannot make me!
(which brings us neatly around to closure.)
Christmas to a child is the first terrible proof that to travel hopefully is better than to arrive – Stephen Fry
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