One of my favorite things about travel is that it always seems to give Greg and me the perfect opportunity to talk about things in depth. We talk about everything anyway, but on vacation it always seems that stuff comes up to fill the days with conversation.
In Italy, the first place we went was Pompeii. I’d always wanted to see the ruins of this city that was wiped out almost instantly when the nearby volcano erupted. Archeologists and scholars have long been fascinated by how the town was essentially frozen in time.
As we wandered the ruins, the sun baking us, we chatted about the marvels of preservation and the stories being told in the buildings and on the streets of what was once a thriving city.
After a couple of hours, we both started to wonder why the fascination with this place? Why did we plan a route that included such an historical site? Simply stated, we both enjoy history and are excited about the stories of how people went about their daily lives hundreds, even thousands, of years ago.
Then we started chatting about how we’d “checked the box” and saw no reason to return. We laughed about how we both have adopted a “how many cathedrals do you really need to see in your lifetime” philosophy about many places in the world. We did visit a church on this trip – the one where Greg’s grandparents were married – but it is not on anyone’s “great churches of Europe” list.
Then we asked each other one of those questions that can’t really be answered: “Do people really go from church to church and art museum to art museum on their vacations?” It seems like that’s where tours want to drop you off, but is that really what people want to see? Maybe it is for some, but for us, it’s a hard “NO.” We’d rather look at the architecture on the outside of a cathedral or duomo.
We’d rather see how locals live their lives than wander through a museum, bumping elbows with tourists who are pushing towards the front to stand and look at a painting. We’d rather sit on the edge of a big city piazza and people-watch over a glass of wine and plate of local delicacies than see another stained glass window … no matter how stutting it may be.
Don’t get me wrong, there’s a good chance we have this mindset because we’ve seen Notre Dame and the Vatican, climbed the Eiffel Tower and bumped and elbowed our way through the Louvre. But on a river cruise a few years ago, we opted for the excursions titled “See the town like a local” every chance we could. I’d rather visit a street market than wait in line to see a statue or a painting.
We admit we are “cork dorks” (wine lovers) and foodies. We love to people-watch and wander. It’s not everyone’s cup of tea, but if you’re not an art or cathedral lover, know you are not alone.
There’s a whole world out there just waiting to be explored. See it the way YOU want to!
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