Is There a Right Way to Travel?

A Wayside Shrine in the Fields of Upper Austria

A Wayside Shrine in the Fields of Upper Austria

A friend emailed me a NY Times blog about the right way to travel since we have had a similar conversation several times: should a traveler try to see as many sights as possible as if dealing with a bucket list or should he/she go for less but more in depth experiences? Here is the blog: http://nyti.ms/1shXzJY. My friend and I both prefer the in-depth approach, but the topic comes up again and again when either one of us has visitors or when we travel with others whose travel style clashes with ours.

A Church Steeple in a Small Town in Upper Austria

A Church Steeple in a Small Town in Upper Austria

Anna Altman’s blog in the NY Times expressed what I value in travel – I look for a true cross-cultural experience instead of a check mark on a list of sights one is supposed to have seen. Many of the memories I have of a place are not connected to the famous sights themselves but to the small experiences: trying to figure out how to ride the bus in a country where I do not speak the language or can understand any postings, shopping in supermarkets where I do not recognize many of the ingredients, or eating in a restaurant where I can’t read the menu and depend on others to choose for me. These are the stories that I retell still years after the trip while the fancy photos of me in front of famous sights have long been gathering dust.

Entrance to a Hidden Courtyard in an Upper Austrian Town

Entrance to a Hidden Courtyard in an Upper Austrian Town

This is also the reason why so many tourists have seen some famous sights in Austria that I have never seen before even though I grew up there and have been back for many of the previous summers. And I am fine with that because instead of the typical sights, I know every little church in every village I have ever been to and I can tell you about the best place to get a beer and conversation in any of the towns I have been to.

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