February 28, 2019

Travel-Time-Travel Writing

I have recently recognized that I have a penchant for outdated travel writing. That means exactly what it says. I love reading old interpretations from tourists of another time. In a way, it's like travel-time-travel, and I can't get enough of it! Some of my all-time favorites include Royal Road to Romance by Richard Halliburton (read in university for a travel writing class, and have re-read it too many times since) and Iberia: Spanish Travels and Reflections by James A. Michener (best friend, Tanya, picked it up at a secondhand store because of the attractive yellow binding, then said I should take it with me during one of my USA visits, and I lugged it all the way back to Europe).

Those two books alone have heavily influenced my travel choices in France, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, and soon to include Andorra.

The book that led me to Karlovy Vary, Czech Republic, was "permanently borrowed" from my grandparents' bookshelf. They had the whole series of Lands and Peoples, printed by The Grolier Society. I took Volume II on the "Baltic States and Central Europe," and after I worked my way through each country chapter, I understood why I had never read the books as a kid hanging out on vacation.

(That may sound like an obvious thing, but I was totally that kid who read books while on vacation, so it's more intriguing that there were books I didn't read!)

This book was written in 1955 for people not even of that era. The sentence structure and wording is all uncomfortable vernacular, and I even had to look up some vocabulary (not a normal occurrence for this spelling bee nerd). In any case, I was able to dig deep into some murky 1930's speech and find some real gems! I also learned a lot about how Americans were feeling about European countries in the years after World War II and the early phases of the Cold War. However outdated this book may be, those recorded thoughts and experiences really contribute to the overall foundation of where we all are today.

I find myself reading these older books and wanting to know how things have changed and how they have stayed the same. It's like getting to read about a young person, then meeting them when they are old, and learning for yourself what successes and failures they experienced to get where they are today. I value this progress and growth, and I really believe the best stories lay in the passage of time. It is there that the events and experiences are much better understood and the long-term effects can be observed. This is where the drama of life exists, and why time is so precious, so quick, and yet still so abused.

I can't wait to get my hands on another outdated travel story and allow it to affect my journey in the world and through time. I hope someday, the stories I have written will attach to others in the same way these authors have reached me. Enjoy the time, enjoy the places, but, most of all, be grateful for the opportunity to experience the history and the presence of every person you meet!