Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A Passion for Travel

Today's guest blogger is a fantastically talented, passionate woman who also happens to be a very good friend of mine. Ladies and Gentlemen, please welcome Dutchbaby. ~ Relyn

As I look around and see the welcoming, friendly faces of your friends, Relyn, I can't begin to tell you how honored I am to be invited to come sit by this warm and cozy fire. When you first asked me to write about a passion, my first reaction was: "Eek! Sophie's Choice!" How do I choose one? However it didn't take long to realize that my passion for travel trumps all others.

Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness ~ Mark Twain

I am passionate about many things, but I live to travel.

I would give up many things before I would give up the opportunity to travel. When I worked in corporate America, I was allotted measly two or three weeks of vacation per year. I often tried to barter extra days of vacation from my employers, either before accepting a new job, or during salary review time. Even when I was fresh out of college as a baby computer programmer and my salary was very modest, I would offer to swap salary for vacation days.

I once wrote down criteria for my Prince Charming on a sheet of paper. Near the top of the list was "Loves to travel". When I met my husband a few months later, he matched all the criteria except he had never been out of the country and his father had never owned a passport. I was in the middle of planning a trip to Europe, so I invited him along. This was an acid test and I was thrilled to learn that he was, and still is, my Prince Charming to the Nth degree. Since then we have travelled to many places as a couple and as a family.

Traveling is a perfect vehicle to quench my thirst to see great works of art. I am transformed when I am in the presence of a great work. I understand my friend's daughter when she had to sit down the first time saw Botticelli's paintings in Florence. She explained to her mother, "It's almost too much!" I almost jumped out of my skin when I saw the frescos in one of the side rooms of the Sienna Cathedral. I didn't do much research beforehand and the surprise of this room was pure joy.

Great architecture can have the same effect. I love America and I wouldn't live anywhere else, but every few years I just have a need to touch a 700-year-old building, to be engulfed by its history, and to try and imagine the stories it can tell.

Travel carries the excitement of the unknown. The unknown carries a certain amount of built-in stress, but richly rewards you when you overcome it and make it familiar. Before long, I find myself planning the trip to return.

I like to plan my trips loosely. I like to leave some air in the itinerary because I may want to change my mind or circumstances may change my mind for me. Would I have enjoyed finding those frescos in Sienna as much if I had anticipated them? On the other hand, I like to make sure I don't miss anything major. Yet I've learned to never get attached to any particular item on the itinerary because deep disappointment can alter the tone of a trip. Flexibility is friend when you travel.

I see travel as a string of serendipitous moments. One minute I may taste a brand new ice cream flavor, like the black sesame seed or Guinness gelatos I had in New York last summer, and the next minute I may stumble upon the perfect artwork to hang in my dining room, like the two prints of architectural details I bought in San Gimignano, Italy. I see many opportunities to see beauty all around, witness people's way of life. If I'm lucky, I'll see things from their point of view, even for just a glimpse; it may be the key to a deeper understanding of their culture.

Travel sharpens your senses and has a way of crystallizing moments because everything is new and foreign. I'll never forget how we wandered the dark streets of Venice after dinner on our first night there, hearing only footsteps and voices, when suddenly Piazza San Marco opened up before us and romantic Italian violin music filled our ears. My 24-year-old niece spontaneously grabbed each one of us to dance a few twirls, setting off a chain reaction in the plaza until dozens of couples danced to the end of the song and beyond. When I recalled this moment with my sister recently, she remembered it just as vividly as I did.

I know I can't plan my special memories, but if I keep my eyes, ears, and heart open, I will collect many.

Thank you for listening to my story, I enjoyed telling it.

First and fourth image and all words by Dutchbaby.


tangobaby said...

"every few years I just have a need to touch a 700-year-old building..." I love that line. It's hard to understand exactly why you get that feeling (connection to the continuum of generations, seeing things that last in a world that is constantly full of change) but you described travel and why it feeds us so perfectly. And the end with the dancing in Venice, I could just picture that. There are so many places in the world for magic to spontaneously happen. Thanks for this treat.

And Relyn, such a great idea you've got here! I love these guest posts.

Christina said...

This is so beautiful, Dutchbaby. Needless to say you have taken me on a journey, near and far. The thought of strolling through venice at night, gave me trickles of excitement and hope, that this will be the year I see a bit more of the world.

Bliss to the architecture and art woven through your memories... yum to the black sesame seed gelato.

Stephanie said...

You're akin to my own soul! My father always asks "Why would you want to leave the best country in the world? we have so much right here." I guess I see travel as international, but any travel- even an hour down the highway to another city is an adventure! Nice to meet you!

Patti said...

Thank you so much for sharing! Your post was wonderful and it has made me ache to travel somewhere- anywhere...just to collect those serendipitous moments! Maybe sometime soon...

Sara said...

What a beautiful ode to travel! I like your style.

jfrancis said...

Beauty clings
till time
and tenacity

Elizabeth said...


I had to sit down when I saw Michelangelo's David for the first time. It took my breath away. :)

Derrick said...

Hello Relyn and Dutchbaby,

I really enjoyed this journey! Travel is something I treasure too and I'm happy to be able to say that I've been to Siena and San Gimignano and Venice and know the pleasures to be found there.

Travel provides a wonderful education and more of us should climb aboard! The USA is a BIG place with so many of its own wonders that I can understand why some people don't feel the need to go elsewhere but they miss SO MUCH.

dutchbaby said...

Dear Tangobaby,
Let's touch some 700-year-old buildings together!

Dear Christina,
Let me tell you, I was feeling the pressure after your lovely post! I'm glad you enjoyed mine.

Dear Stephanie,
Your father sounds just like my father-in-law, who still has never owned a passport. Very nice to meet you!

Dear Patti,
Those serendipitous moments are like jewels in my memory.

Dear Sara,
Thank you, I'm flattered!

Dear Jfrancis,
That's an amazing poem.

Dear Elizabeth,
Me too!!! It is simply breathtaking!

Dear Derrick,
I consider any kind of exploration travel. In fact, I often label my posts on San Francisco as travel because I frequently go there as a tourist.

I know I am very privileged to be able to travel internationally and I wish everyone had the opportunity to do so. I do not understand those who are able to go but refuse; they indeed miss out on SO MUCH.

Thank you everyone for joining this tea party. Thank you, Relyn, for your hospitality.

smith kaich jones said...

This was just wonderful. I am the world's worst traveler- truly - but I long to learn to be at ease with it because there is so much to see & experience. Your Venice story just made me happy! I have set a goal for myself to learn to travel, and you have given me incentive - to learn to go with the flow of the "string of serendipitous moments". Many, many thanks!

:) Debi

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful and enjoyable post! I have not had the pleasure of leaving the U.S., but one day. :)

Yoli said...

I am so glad I stepped in here in my fuzzy slippers. Dutchbaby your post is beautiful and I could feel your passion. I too love travel, nothing like loosing yourself in another culture, another smell and sound.

Relyn this is a wonderful idea. It is always a delight to stop by.

Gabby said...

Simply, utterly amazing, DB. When I saw the David in Florence I thought it was so delicate that I could see his breathing, the air flowing under his ribcage.

I can never get enough of travel. I have a friend who says, "be it ever so humble, there's no place like somewhere else!"

My Castle in Spain said...

Beautiful post, Dutchbaby ! travelling is by far one of the most exciting things and i agree with you about this urge of visiting and feel the past through architecture and historical buildings.
I'm so sure you must cherish this memory of your dancing in Piazza San Marco !

dutchbaby said...

Dear Debi,
I'm so glad to hear you say this. Flexibility and modest expectations are the key to magic when you travel.

Dear Tabitha and Family,
I didn't mean to imply that international travel is the only option. I sometimes consider myself a tourist right here in Palo Alto. Having said that, traveling to a foreign country does add more dimension because of the difference in language, climate, food, and surroundings. I hope you get to experience this at least once in your life :-)

Dear Yoli,
I can tell you know exactly what I mean.

Dear Gabby,
That is a hilarious quote! The David is Florence is simply breathtaking - worth every minute of the wait in line.

Dear Castle,
That electrifying moment is crystallized in my memory.

Anonymous said...

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We Appreciate You Greatly!!

A FiveOh4 Uplifting & The Strong Family

paris parfait said...

I can't imagine life without travel. So many amazing experiences come one's way, in addition to the beauty of seeing incredible architecture and stunning art. And my favourite part of travel is the unexpected - the people you meet; the detours you take; the memories created. I think everyone's life should involve (a) books and (b) travel - as much as possible, always! Wonderful post!

dutchbaby said...

I've learned over the years that it's the small, unexpected, unplanned moments that stand the test of time.

Yoli said...

I am just as passionate about travel. What a lovely post. I wish I had your eloquence.

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