Traveling well has proved to be harder than it seems.
Perhaps it doesn’t help that, in all the places we have visited so far, there have been a distressing number of ‘typical’ tourists who often value a quick snapshot over the experience of the moment itself. Two and a half weeks into this trip, I am already finding the need to exhort great energy in my attempt to experience Europe in a tangible and lasting way.
Learning to separate myself from the rushed touristic mentality has probably been the biggest challenge for me so far. How to appreciate a work of art, or the ancient ruins of the Roman Forum with intentional integrity. How to see ‘The David’ as beautiful, not simply because Michelangelo made it or because it is a world-renowned piece of art– but rather because I allow it to touch me personally.
Some of my favourite pieces and sights so far have been those that the general public does not generally hear about in textbooks or travel guides.
The humble voices of a Spanish boys’ choir.
A Florentine plaster of a woman in mourning.
A depiction of Mary Magdalene from the Vatican, with eyes sore and red from crying at the death of her Saviour.
Having a conversation with the woman begging outside of a French basilica.
These things, these moments that you don’t see in travel guides because they are not substantial enough to be mentioned. These are the things that move me. By seeking them out, I am doing what I can to be more than a tourist passing through, striving instead to ‘taste and see’ the beauty and depth of what is around me.