Travel is not simply a means of enjoying the present, it offers experiences that will enrich our lives for evermore. Travel is my happy place. It’s undeniably the best way for me to refresh and rekindle my love of life, people and culture, and reinvigorate my creative energies. And the best thing about it? Travel is rewarding, both in the moment and for years to come.
For me, the most evocative memories are experienced away from guide book favourites, Instagram hot-spots and travel check-lists. Places where I allow myself time to wander and explore, where getting lost is the very point itself.
Sounds, smells, tastes, sights; all take me on a journey. The distinct taste of Amaretto and smell of strong, fragrant espresso summon intimate afternoons lazing in a trattoria down in a side street in Rome, where time and culture seemingly stand still. Culturally infused street music transports me to the streets of Paris; lingering in the eclectic soundtrack of contemporary Parisienne life as it reverberates across picturesque streets and historic facades.
My friends and I came across these musicians – Les Presteej – busking outside the Sacre Coeur and stopped to listen, watching them play and then later chatting with them about their music and life. I bought their CD, and am playing it as I write this and the feelings of being in Paris that day come flooding back to me. Music too is an elixir of life.
Being a bit of a foodie, one of travel’s pleasures is enjoying the local food and discovering new recipes. I can remember meals I’ve eaten years ago – the bolognese in a square in Rome on my honeymoon, the warm goats cheese salad in Burgundy or the first time I ate pizza in Naples. A simple mention of the best Apple Strudel I’ve ever tasted in Innsbruck with a friend in my early twenties, takes me back to that happy time in the Austrian Alps in a heartbeat, though we reminisce decades later.
“And if travel is like love, it is, in the end, mostly because it’s a heightened state of awareness, in which we are mindful, receptive, undimmed by familiarity and ready to be transformed. That is why the best trips, like the best love affairs, never really end.” Pico Iyer p>
The decision to travel rewards you with a lifetime of memories.
Seeking experiences away from typical ‘must-dos’ is essential for me and where my most enduring memories are formed. Feeling one with the spirit of the city, village or landscape as it wakes, quiet streets bathed in gentle morning light, locals making their way to and from work, chatting with regulars at their favourite coffee haunt, local markets or lunch spot. Exchanging sometimes awkward, always well-meaning attempts at foreign language with smiles, laughs and understanding, and immersing myself into the culture and daily life of new places; this is where I feel inspired. My creativity soars and so too my imagination.
As a photographer, I often remind myself that traveling is not only about capturing visual impressions of a place.
There must also be time to put the camera away (although I admit this is hard!), allowing your senses to bathe in the full experience of life and culture; soaking up sights, sounds, smells, and the intensity of feeling while in an unfamiliar land. Creating wonderful travel experiences to be cherished in the moment, and re-lived in the future.
And if you, like me, dream of the places you long to visit, you may want to put India on your list and join me this September.
It is set to be a journey of a lifetime.
With love and light,