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.
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.
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.