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Today, I realized that I am somewhat of a strange bird. I love to travel, but there are limits to that infatuation that I’d not considered. I love all the things that make traveling special. I love knowing that when I finally reach my destination, there will be merriment and joviality not far behind. However, I detest the act of traveling….not necessarily, the packing, research or any of the precursors of getting to your destination. It is the act of fighting through local traffic in a desperate attempt to put as many miles between you and your home base as possible. Or standing in long lines during check-in as punishment for being unable to have reached some fancy tier on an airline’s FF program.
I hate going through TSA checkpoints and dealing with the various attitudes and platitudes being served up at nearly every airport that you must pass through. I hate having to answer questions that will put the questioner’s mind to rest that I don’t plan to commandeer the airplane as soon as it takes off. I hate having to deal with rude passengers and increasingly ruder airline personnel before, during and sometimes after the flight. It’s all a hassle…..but as soon as I have made my way to ground transportation after waiting what seems like an eternity for my battle-scarred luggage to make its way to me on the carousel, I feel renewed.
At least long enough for me to high tail it to ground transportation to find that carriage that will whisk me away to the safe confines of my hotel, hostel, cabin or wherever I can manage to slip off my shoes before my feet expand to enormous proportions. Then I ponder if removing my shoes will only make matters worse and finally I’ve reached the point of just not caring. In my eagerness to discover my new surroundings, there’s only enough time to place my valuables in the room safe, grab my purse and card key as I jettison out the door.
Though I may rent a car or take the subway, bus or train, I see the world clearer as a pedestrian. Walking allows you the luxury of stopping in your tracks and admiring the view. Fast paced tour buses have a schedule to adhere to so if anything catches your eye it quickly becomes a distant memory. Once you’ve discovered the roads less traveled by tour companies you’ve uncovered the proverbial pot of gold. The exception to this is private tour guides or hop on/hop off tour buses that allow you more freedom to see the sights on your own terms.
Nevertheless, communing with residents are a likely occurrence when you set about to discover a city on your own. For me, I don’t feel that I’ve genuinely experienced a destination unless I’ve eaten, walked, shopped and chatted where the locals do every day. There’s a vivid authenticity in experiencing a city devoid of public relations filtered puffery. If you are more likely to find out what makes a city tick from people who are in the know and without a financial agenda in tow.
Once I am firmly immersed in my new city, enjoying the vivid imagery, the pungent sounds, the beautiful vistas that make this spot unique among any other in the world……it more than makes up for the trouble it took to get there. So, what are you waiting for? Start dreaming now.