Kyoto has something to look at. The small streets leading to the temple on top of the hill, with their shops and restaurants that make the best Japanese places in the house look silly, with servers imbued with the Kyoto Protocol, an extraordinary form of Japanese courtesy that impresses and sometimes frightens even citizens. Japan from other parts of the country. If you jumped from one to the other, passed all sides, you would find some amazing things and you would probably get amazing photos.
But sometimes, standing still in the middle of Kyoto is the best way to feel it. Or sitting. You can sit. Let me tell you how I know.
I came of age as a traveler in the mid-late 90s, which in terms of travel is at least as significant as participating in The Greatest Generation. The mid-late 90s were the only era when air travel was even less expensive than it is now, and as a young man who decided to view his inability to find a destination in life as a vacation, I traveled a lot. Not as great odysseys of Southeast Asia or Peruvian campaigns as young people are now. I made quick trips, for example, on the weekends I went to Paris because there was a deal. Or on the weekend I went to New York because there was a deal. Or the four days I spent in Los Angeles because there was a deal. Or three days in Berlin because … you know.
Air Canada sent out these mass emails on Wednesdays (I think so) with ridiculously cheap fares on the spot that they couldn’t sell. It was up to the algorithms. I liked these places, but what I later realized was a very specific way. I kept getting these letters and I had no plans for the future. I walked around Berlin knowing I could be back next year, or next month, or if it would cost the equivalent of a two-day temporary salary again. When I missed the Brandenburg Gate because I found a cool neighborhood in the old eastern part of town where everyone at lunch looked evil, well, it didn’t matter. I would go back. As a result, my travels during this period were usually itinerant affairs. Time was cheap and I wasted it.
No wonder writers, philosophers and scientists have spent so much time in cafes and on footpaths. Wordsworth called it wandering alone like a cloud. This allowed him to appreciate daffodils. But you don’t need to be anthophilic (to switch between poets and centuries) to benefit from what the business world has wrongly called “simple”.
The rest can be, oddly enough, quite stressful. You probably don’t travel all the time, so you’ll probably want to get the most out of this trip to Japan, Iceland or Senegal. We can deceive ourselves into thinking that “getting the most out of a trip” means constantly moving from one thing to another, seeing as many different things as possible, because who knows if we’ll ever come back. We can convince ourselves that “doing something” is synonymous with physical activity.
But if your main reason for the trip is not to be able to catalog what you’ve seen and done for friends and family (and followers on Instagram), you need to argue, and I’ll do that if you don’t spend a decent amount time sitting – either alone or with others, not talking – or walking not to see the sights, but to think thoughts and feel feelings, you will not benefit from the trip as much or enjoy yourself as you could be.
Sure, you also want to see the sights, but thinking about travel in terms of performance or achievement is like thinking about business in terms of hugs and bunnies. If you don’t really die, travel lists are the equivalent of traveling, the equivalent of knowing the price of everything and the value of nothing. What good is it that you’ve seen every coffee shop along Dizengoff, Bat Hatfutsot, Eretz, Bialik, Ruben, Herliya and all the best coffee shops in Tel Aviv if all you like is what you seen them?
I travel quite a bit for work and I often need to jump from one business to another. But what I remember, what lingers in my heart and comes to me in moments of dreams, is what I spent time with. Not the Great Wall of China, but a pet store in Shanghai, where I stopped and listened to a group of men discussing the relative merits of crickets. I remember actually understanding what they were discussing, even though I didn’t know Mandarin. And that’s where I learned that cricket fights in China are a thing, and good cricket can cost a lot of money. I examined bamboo cricket cages, thin octagons so they could rest between competitions. I wasn’t going to visit a pet store that day. I just wandered the streets and let out my curiosity.
I had a similar experience in a cafe with a secret dining room behind the Institut de France, where the waiter shook my hand during my third visit in five days to Bregenz, Austria, in the shape of a mushroom. invite me to a league of regulars who can eat through unmarked doors behind the bar. Obviously, I could have seen a lot more Parisian cafes if I hadn’t come back to this, but came back a few times and spending time – I probably spent about 10 hours there during those three visits – taught me things like how often the French order in such places, despite the menu, are sure, even if they are not regulars, that in this place will be coq au vin, croque monsieur, tarte tatin or a glass of Côtes du Rhône, which they want. During my second visit, I saw a guy under 14 who lit a cigarette after lunch with his mother, which seemed so super-French (and, by the way, some kind of super-French). no longer feel, because after a couple of years banned smoking in cafes).
I also remember sitting on a bench in Phoenix Park, drinking one of those tiny plastic jugs of milk that can be purchased at corner stores, reading, looking at chestnuts, reading more, watching strollers walk in the park, from time to time nodding his head. to another park nurse across the road. I have lived in Dublin for a year and have come back many times since then and it is still one of the brightest impressions.
You could say that quality is above quantity, or that memories take time, but in fact it is just the realization that travel is not so much to get to a place as to be there, in the place where you are, completely, to allow your mind to catch up. your feet.
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