The first time I thought about this question was in September 2013 in Akureyri, Iceland. We were walking with Vihra in the small beautiful city and talking about what makes us travel? what does it mean for us? And when we returned home where we were staying we randomly found a book where the authors were also trying to answer this questionâ€¦ It was like one of such small coincidences which makes you smile thinking that it should be a kind of signâ€¦ The name of the book was One People: Many Journeys and I would like to share the introduction written by Maureen Wheeler (lonely planet co-founder) with you because it was written in a very nice and deep way and I liked it a lot.
The second time I was thinking about this question was in September 2014 (what a concidence ;)) travelling through Corfu island, Greece.
Corfu Island is very nice, very friendly, open hearted and beautiful, calm and cozy. We stayed in Corfy city and then went to Arillas (in the north of the island).
We chose Arillas because of the information from http://www.greencorfu.com/ - an portal of friends promoting holistic â€“ organic â€“ sustainable tourism in Corfu. There are a lot of possibilities to attend yoga, qi-gong, meditation classes in Arillas.
We liked Buddha Hall a lot â€“ a very well located place where you just flow into the nature. You feel so calm and so peaceful inside of you and this is just because you see a beauty of the nature around you and let the feeling go deeply inside of you. I have never been especially sensible to the nature but in this place you just feel it despite your inner readiness to feel. I saw many people travelling there to meditate, to stay with the nature, to find themselves and to get more information about the beautiful island, to try local food, sweets, Greek coffee (tasty and I really like that you are supposed to wait a while before the coffee is ready for you. Just nice not to rush but just expect such a small but very nice moment).
A lot of people we met in Arrilas and in the north of Corfu were without any rush, just deeply open to the world around. Being in Arrillas and have tried some classes offered in Buddha Hall I understood that in order to meditate you do not need anything. You just stay in the nature and you get such a deep meditative feeling â€¦ Just be open and kind to yourself that is where the journey into yourself begins.
The experience in Kavos, a city in the south of Corfu, was quite opposite. I have never experienced such drastic differences before. According to some online sources the city should had a very nice beach. The beach might be nice but we did not wish to see it.
Kavos is very â€ślovedâ€ť by young British people. And now I know what it means. Of course, this does not apply to the whole country and to all young people and only represents the situation in a small city...
When we arrived to the bus station musicin the city was so loud that you could hear it everywhere. The city itself is just one street but you can hardly find anything Greek there. It is a small copy of a street somewhere in Britain, with pubs, restaurants offering â€śfull English breakfastâ€ť for EUR 2.50, shops where you can hardly find so tasty fresh fruits but alcohol from over the world, every second house in the city was an ambulance (and the city is very small), you can find Greek doner everywhere (fast food), everywhere trash, bottles and people running in shirts with provoking words on themâ€¦
It was not dangerous in the city but was it something what we were looking for? Definitely no! We were lucky because our house was not that close to the city center and we could enjoy the beauty of the sea and our host was a very nice, friendly and warm person.
Being in Kavos I was thinking about the meaning of tourismâ€¦ What do these young people get to know about Greece? I was also feeling really sorry for all the trash you could see in the city. And of course the people from the city are living on tourists but should it be like this? Should the authenticity be destroyed in such way? I think, in Kavos you could expiriance a British city more than a Greek one...
This is not a simple question and I do not have an answer to it, but it was really sad to see all this. It is also interesting to know how it all started. Who had an idea to build such a places from the cities, to attract people because of cheap alchohol and loud parties?
And why do we need travelling? To meditate in a beautiful place?To enjoy cheap alcohol?To get to know new people?To get to know other countries?And what for?
For me I am still discovering answers to these questions. I think the main point for me is to do everything or at least to try to do everything conscious and not only because this is the way things have always been done.
I like very much this part from the introduction written by Maureen Wheeler for One People: Many Journeys, mentioned above:
The clichĂ© â€śtravel broadens the mindâ€ť rings true, as many clichĂ©s do. We want to come back somehow enriched, expanded and changed by our journey. The boundaries we cross are not always physical â€“ travel involves an internal journey as well as an external one, as we discover more about ourselves. When we travel we come up against the boundaries inside us: our prejudices, our limits, our willingness to understand and our ability to empathise. We are confronted by what we see and challenged to respond. As travelers we experience what it is like to be the outsider, â€śthe differentâ€ť one. To the people we meet we are exotic, we bring with us believes and attitudes from another place, and it is the mutual exchange of our stories that our transformation begins.
It will happen whether we consciously seek it or not. You may be standing in a street in Asia, or a village in Africa, but at some point you will look up and make eye contact with someone from that country, someone who does not look like you, does not understand what you are saying, and who would find your life back home completely incomprehensible. But they will look into your eyes and smile, a connection will be made, and you will recognise them, because what travel teaches us is that we are all essentially the same. There is not a â€śthemâ€ť and an â€śusâ€ť; there is really only â€śus.
I think, if you have already made such an eye contact and really feel that there is really only â€śusâ€ť, then there is no way back to your previous life. There is only a way forwardâ€¦.
Is travelling our own concious choice or it is just one of many regular products we are supposed to use just as a regular customer?...
And, why do YOU travel?