16 February 2009

Why Travel?

With video cameras, YouTube, iPods, mp3, amplification and all that technical complexity, it is possible, and perhaps even affordable, for many people to continue to experience the sounds of their travels as well as the sights.

We can see and hear the places we have not yet visited, just by watching television documentaries and going online. Even hotel rooms can be virtually explored before we enter them to sleep.

So, is there any point in travelling nowadays?

Are there any pleasant surprises on your excursions to new places or is everything becoming so familiar through pre-trip research that you may as well save your money and stay home?


We can taste foods from around the world just by looking at the local restaurant guides in our nearest cities and making a booking for something unusual. Aromas from various ethnic food shops and markets can enliven our senses and our palates whenever a diverse range of people have migrated to where we live.


Since the early 1990s, it has been unnecessary to purchase souvenirs on holiday, except to assist a local economy directly. Many craft items from around the world can be found in your nearest fair trade stores and charity shops. Some have even made their way into department stores, though those items will probably have been made on a factory scale.

Cultural diversity

I live in Australia, one of the most culturally diverse places on earth, especially in the cities. Such diversity is not often expressed in the architecture here.

There is often pressure to conform to the perceived norm of suburban blandness yet underneath the materialist surface, there is great cultural richness.

Why, then, do so many Australians wish to travel elsewhere?  Many have relatives in other countries. Many travel to where they do not have relatives. Perhaps the latter are in search of experiences within more interesting architecture than we have here.

Understanding home

Perhaps Australians appreciate the meaning and pleasure of being at home much more after they have travelled. Is it the same where you live?

Understanding the world

Do we really have a better understanding of the world when we travel?

Is understanding more about depth than a few days between hotel rooms can provide?

Is your curiosity satisfied enough already?  Are you unsure how to understand the world better, or even whether such understanding is a worthwhile pursuit?

Understanding ourselves

Who you are might have something to do with how you cope when you are away from familiar surroundings and familiar people.

If you have been reading my Ancestors Within blog, you will perhaps know about my search for the mill in Ossolaro and the musical heritage of the person I married.

If you have read my By Any Other Name blog, you will know something about my research into many aspects of identity.  Is your sense of identity challenged at all when you travel?

Musical journeys

This Continual Journeys blog may indicate to you that I intend to write here about travelling through time as well as space, and about travelling into my own mind and the minds of others.

Are history and music a part of your travels?  If you have looked through a few blogger profiles, perhaps some of the musical tastes you have encountered there have been unfamiliar to you. Have you tried listening to the music online, to discover more?

Other musical journeys

In my travels around the world, I have sought out interesting musical experiences, from a Peña or two in Bolivia and Peru; the musical accompaniment to wedding processions in India; recitals in churches in Rome, Venice and London; the traditional music and dances of Zimbabwe; opera performances in the Roman arena in Verona and at the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden, traditional performances of music and dance in Bali and Java, brass bands in Austria, as well as a lot of international musical experiences at festivals and other events in Australia.

The Mill in Ossolaro - part three

If you have been following this story in my Ancestors Within blog, you will be familiar with the name of Amilcare Ponchielli, the 19th century Italian composer. Ponchielli was a major inspiration to other composers, including Mascagni and Giordano, and especially Puccini.

The mill in Ossolaro is (or was) near Cremona. A major town to the north of Cremona is Bergamo, where Donizetti was born. Just to the south of Cremona, over the Po river, is Busseto and its nearby village of Le Roncole, birthplace of Giuseppe Verdi.

Your journeys

Would you like to continue reading this blog? If so, please leave comments on any of the posts here, and perhaps even send me an email - writetovia  AT gmail . com - I look forward to hearing from you!

10 February 2009

Travels of a Soul Mate

A reason to travel is to find a soul mate. I found mine on the back of a truck in South America a long time ago.  We have very similar interests on a personal level, but very different professional interests. Relationships can often be adventures.

We have plenty of books to keep our minds occupied in relation to our shared interests as a married couple, and also many, mostly second-hand books on our many individual interests. What are the interests you share - or wish to share - with a soul mate?

07 February 2009

The Perfect Afternoon Tea

It is not necessary to go far in search of something wonderful. For me, one of the most enjoyable experiences in the world is the perfect afternoon tea.  Yet I have only ever encountered such a thing in the private confines of family life.  Is it possible to find the perfect afternoon tea elsewhere?

Have you experienced the perfect afternoon tea?  If so, where did you find it?

05 February 2009

The Most Courteous People in the World

Sometimes the hassles of travel can be more trouble than a journey is worth. Yet courteous people can make any journey worthwhile.

From previous experiences, I know that I dislike being accosted by people trying aggressively to sell me things that are either kitsch or cute or crappy, or otherwise unlikely to meet any of my needs.  This even happens in Australia.

I especially detest those unpleasant characters who lurk in the distance, even in Europe, forcing women, children and disabled people to beg pathetically amongst the queues of tourists at World Heritage sites.

Service in shops, restaurants and hotels can sometimes be against the unspoken policy of the place. There can be transport delays, strikes, strange opening hours, language and currency problems, upset digestion, sleepless nights, security warnings, mosquitoes, flies, and answers to your questions that are well-meaning lies.

Genuine respect

What can make a trip worthwhile is often simply the kindness of strangers. Yet where in the world might anyone be treated with genuine respect with a comforting certainty? In the United States it often happens, though usually the service person anticipates receiving an extra donation known there as a tip. In other parts of the world the practice might be called begging, or even bribery. It appears to be a starvation-prevention measure in the United States.

But where are there people who are genuinely warm and consistently courteous, and might even be so while begging for money? After many years of travelling, I found my own answer. It was in Zimbabwe.

Acknowledging courtesy

My visit to Zimbabwe was a few years ago. So much has changed there over the years. But even in their current desperation, I am sure that most of the people in Zimbabwe are still as modest and considerate as the many I met there.  How might we best respond to their plight now?

True sources of wealth

Most of my current travels are merely into the minds of other people.  I hope you do not think me a soapbox person! It is just that I hope that peace and courtesy will be recognised as the true sources of wealth. Through them, we might travel towards a more considerate world, and perhaps assist the people of Zimbabwe along the way.

02 February 2009

Adventures in the Land of Blog

What a fabulous time I am having during the heatwave here in southern Australia. I love being warm and dry.  We usually have low humidity here in the town of "Dorothea", but the temperature is rarely over 40 degrees centigrade.

Our house is usually less than 30 degrees, even without air conditioning. I don't enjoy temperatures lower than 20 degrees or the freezing blasts and roaring fans of air conditioners.

When the weather is so hot, what could be better than to travel online?

Why do so many people attempt to travel in very hot weather? Could the Land of Blog be the best place to be?

Travelling online

I started off on an adventure with four little blogs last month, taking them to the Land of Blog. Along the way, we met many other blogs and it was great fun. However, my sense of fun might not be the same as yours, as you may have already gathered.

I have been enjoying creating my public blogger profile, and nurturing my blogs.   I have especially been thinking about all of the interests my blogs and I might share with other travellers online.

01 February 2009

Many Like to Travel

There are rather a lot of bloggers out there who like to travel.

Real world travels

If you would like to know something about my travels, here is a brief summary:

I have travelled extensively, and not expensively, on every inhabited continent. My carbon footprint during those travels, and before and after them, has been reasonably low.

One of the reasons for my travels has been to see the world in a way that the television news ignores.  I had the hope that I could then understand our species and this planet from a much broader perspective than I had earlier acquired.


My accommodation experiences have ranged from a hammock slung between trees in the Amazon, an ex-London Transport double-decker bus in Iran, a hut in a rice paddy in Bali, a squalid five-star hotel room in Greece, various apartments in London and Paris and Rome, people's private homes in many places, and a converted windmill in Norfolk, England.


My transport experiences have been equally as diverse, from business class on world-class airlines (on an economy ticket), to a walking safari in the Okavango Delta after a very long trip by dugout canoe, to just about everything in between, including the back of a camel in Jordan, the back of an elephant in Jaipur, India and the back of an authoritarian horse in Ireland.


I am not particularly interested in hedonistic or ascetic pursuits, except as part of my anthropological investigations.  Oh, and I qualified as an international travel consultant (IATA/UFTAA) quite a long time ago but decided against working as an agent for anyone or anything. 

I am not very good at selling, especially to people who are unlikely to enjoy a particular trip.  I can only share what I love, with people who love it too.