Go before it’s too late

Greetings from London, last autumn.

Today one of my friends stated that he doesn’t really like traveling. For him, the experiences that travel involves are always momentary and fleeting. He wants to put his time, energy and money on things he can enjoy for a long time. He dismissed traveling merely as tourism and sightseeing.

At the moment I just just nodded, unable to say anything. Since then I’ve thought about it a lot. I personally have always wanted to travel in order to get new experiences, meet new people and, cheesy as it may sound, broaden my horizons. And yes, to see stuff.

I actually enjoy seeing a building or a painting I’ve seen in pictures. I apreciate the experiences. The stuff I remeber clearest is not just images, but something more like feelings. I remember going to the van Gogh museum in Amsterdam and being struck by what the actual colours where like. I remember walking the streets of New York and thinking it’s was so much better than I ever dreamed of. I remember seeing the royal palace in Madrid and wondering how anybody’s ever been able to live there. I remember walking on the great wall of China and not believing that anyone would ever even attempt such a project. I remember walking on a beach in Malaysia, feeling the warm wind and the hot sand and feeling totally at ease.

But then I thought about all the tall buildings I’ve been in. I thought about all the churches and all the museums. I thought about all the sights I’ve seen that I’ve seen just because you have to. And I remembered how silly tourists can be.

Don’t get me wrong, there aren’t many times I’ve been unimpressed by something. There probably hasn’t been anything I’ve regretted seeing. But I’ve often thought that it might be just as rewarding not to see the sights, but to sit in cafés, talk to people, letting things happen. I won’t go on about this because, as usual, Stuff White People Like has said it so much better here and here.

I’m going to Amsterdam in a couple of weeks. Since I’ve been there before I plan to just stroll around the city, have picnics in parks, browse outdoor markets, sit in bars, dance, and talk to people.

And maybe go to the van Gogh museum.

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