Travel is one of my passions. Sometimes, I think I dislike it almost as much as I love it. I learned a long time ago that putting one self through the “travel experience” is often a rough way to see and learn about the world. First, it beats you up, then beats you up again, then you learn. Without speaking the local language, you are often reduced to a child like status of dependance on others. I took my first trip to Europe almost as soon as I could, one year out of college and fresh from quitting a job where I was both “the boss” and the youngest person on the staff (talk about a strange situation, that was it).
Way back in the 70s, travel to Europe was a lot less common than now. The way things are going, I’d half expect a fourth grade class to be taking a trip to Europe. Anyone can go, for any reason. The “study abroad” efforts by colleges to lure and keep students generally didn’t exist in those days, save for a few “junior year abroad” programs that placed American students at places like Oxford. Hundreds of colleges these day use study abroad programs as a way to draw in students and give the professors extra pay while touring ancient sites. It is not unusual now for someone to graduate having spent a month or more in three or four countries, even the most distant ones in Asia, Africa and South America.
We have really lost something important in travel by making it so common and by having instant communications everywhere we go. What have we lost? The depth of feeling that you are really far away, that you are in a different world where the rules and people dictate that you pay attention and adjust. We have lost the feeling of being away away. Paris is in danger of being taken as a an outpost of New York.
In any case, I haven’t posted much on travel, save for the difficulties of getting in and through airports and on planes in the post 9-11 world. There will be more in the future.