S is for Slow

No, I am not slow.

But I would like to be…some times.

There is this “new-ish” trend in travel. It is called Slow Travel. I don’t pretend to be an expert.

It speaks for itself. Travel slowly and in doing so, the traveller experiences a deeper understanding of the place, its culture and its people. The antithesis of the whirlwind trip around Europe; 6 countries in 6 days.

Jaz, my sheltie, has mastered the art of travelling slow. Being a somewhat older dog, she likes to take her time and sniff the grass when we walk together. And apparently grass remains fascinating, no matter where we are; each little patch of it deserving extra care and attention.

I could learn from her. You can see why from the photograph below. True story. Jade, Chris and I in New York City.

Chris took the picture of he, in last place, Jade in second and me in the lead!

Chris took the picture of he, in last place, Jade in second and me in the lead!

I have to laugh when I look at it now. It is not exactly a number 1 mom moment!

My thinking was If I speed it up, so will they. Then this can happen…. and that can happen. And pathetically, I can’t even remember where I was headed or what was supposed to happen. I was just in a hurry to get things done.

So I have been consciously trying to build in slow time when we travel now as a family. When I plan, I try to have only one activity per day and then some days I plan nothing, an oxymoron, but necessary for me, the travel moron.

Inevitably the nothing becomes a some thing that we all choose but then it is a some thing that feels less like a travel must and more like a travel want. Keep some spontaneity and flexibility for those paths that look interesting and lead to who knows where. What is at the end may be just as interesting as that art gallery that we were told we “had” to see. You will never know until you make the time to explore the “nothing” on your list.

So although I have made some head way into the world of slow travel, I still struggle. Two weeks in Italy? Challenging. The entire country is a traveller’s dream. I need 50 – 2 weeks holidays to see what I want. Two weeks in Guatemala? It is killing me. How do I get to Todos Santos and Tikal (in opposite directions) and still spend time at Lake Atitlan? Three weeks in Morocco? Stressful. We have to get to the Sahara Desert but then I must see Essaouira and also want to spend some down time in Chefchaouen.

Time forces choices. And choices make me want to speed up.

So there is only one solution to succeeding at this slow travel thing.

Only travel. Nothing else.

Then I promise… I really promise… that I will travel slowly.

Travelling slowly through A to Z from the Family C

The Super Model of Swimming Pools Goes to South Africa

Seriously, would you ever return to a country for a swimming pool? Especially when swimming is not really your thing?

Well… some swimming pools are so beautifully situated such as the one shown above in Graskop, South Africa (Panorama Chalets) that yes.. I would consider dragging my family to South Africa to experience this pool, situated on the edge of a cliff over looking the Graskop gorge. I have been twice and this pool, stands out as one of my top memories of South Africa and that is competing with charging elephants in Kruger Park, Table Mountain in Cape Town and the oh so cute penguins on Boulder’s Beach outside Simon’s Town. That says a lot for a simple swimming pool.

When we were on our honeymoon, it was a pool at IL Poggio dei Pettirossi, on a hill overlooking the valley of Bevagna in Italy that made us miss our kids the most. We couldn’t even enjoy it knowing that they would have died and gone to heaven if they were swimming in it overlooking the Umbrian valley and all its sparkling lights at night. Chris honestly said we had to go back to Italy so they could swim in it… and yes, see Rome and Venice and a million other sights but that pool… again stands out.

We didn’t have Abby with us in Guatemala and we missed her the most at the Jungle Lodge in Tikal National Park when we floated in the pool watching and listening to the spider monkeys above in the trees.

So seriously… a pool can definitely play a part in a family’s travel experience when backpacking. I know of some “beyond brilliant ones” in Bali too… another reason to return there as well 🙂

And The Oscar Goes To…

Which country is your all-time favourite? A popular question to ask and a difficult, if not impossible one to answer.

I guess, not surprisingly, the nombre un pays to visit in 2014 was France, but I am surprised that Italy came in at 5th with the US (what?) beating it in number 2, Spain in number 3 and China in number 4.

I probably wouldn’t place any of the top 5 as my all-time favourite country but Italy did win the genetic lottery in terms of overall beauty. Hard to deny those basic facts. Given that, Italy was the choice for our honeymoon (much to the chagrin of our children who got to go to Boston for the family honeymoon). So in honour of the Oscars, I present pictures for 5th place Italy.

Maybe some day we will be really shocked and the Oscar will go to Bangladesh!

Does your husband go to the local beauty salon/barber everywhere he travels?

It all began in Chinatown in New York City. Chris picked out a local beauty salon and the woman shaved his head…literally…he returned with some knicks and vowed that that was a bad idea. For some strange reason, this began the ritual of looking for a barber or hair stylist (term is loosely used) in each and every destination. So far, he has had his hair cut in Mexico, Italy, Guatemala, Morocco and Peru.

The search is still on for the best cut.