Wow — southern Spain and Cordoba, Malaga, on to Edinburgh Fringe Festival, to Milan and Venice, traveling through Croatia, Slovenia, Montenegro, and Romania…. Glorious fun, discover, play, tennis, art, history, great people on the road. (Please look at other past posts in the Blog of “Zen in a Suitcase.”
I love every moment of the journey in Europe over the past three months. I would not trade a single moment of it. It opened my eyes and spirit on so many levels. Nevertheless, there is a profound joy in coming home to southern Vermont at Blue Heron Pond in late October. I am like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, happy to have made the journey to Oz, but I click my ruby slippers and say, “there is no place like home.” Yet, our mind, spirits, understanding of the world has been so enriched and blessed both by the people we have met and the extraordinary places we’ve visited. Though we were supposed to go to Iran to do a peace arts project at the Tehran Peace Museum with children, we could not get our last visa. More than a year of work on this project and great support will have to wait for next year; however all the messages of peace and art to Iran are still there. One of the legs of the trip was to Armenia and Azerbaijan, and that also got postponed. So, as with all good travelers, the key is flexibility and so we wound up wandering through the former republic of Yugoslavia.
The national forest in Slovenia Plitvice is one of the most exquisite spots in the world. The best time to do this beautiful national park is in the early spring or late autumn when all the crowds have fled. The National Forests with water falls at every turn is astonishingly beautiful.
This is true also for other cities along the Croatian coast like Dubrovnik, Split, Zagreb, and in Montenegro. I am profoundly grateful to have seen the cities, but I would not want to be anywhere near there during the summer months with the hordes of tourist. Though we are flexible travelers it is difficult to have an intimate experience with a historical town and the thousands of people milling around. Tourism and the mosh pit.
We tend to go off road quite a bit. We find our own way and our own style in traveling. This is essential for traveling; finding your own style and your comfort zone. We are semi-professional travelers, who have easily logged over 100 countries under our belt, we are not the best, not the most adventurous nor ultra light traveler, but in our comfortable style in our early 60s, we are able to comfortably be on the road for months at a time and even more.
We have traveled with little or no money when we were much younger. We’ve slept in graveyards and in open fields, hostels, absolutely awful $.50 tonight lodgings in Egypt (actually a hammock strung between two poles), and our nights in the high Himalayas in the Western Nepal for about $.95 a night; the grubby, difficult, and sometimes impossible path in traveling. I wouldn’t trade a single moment of those glorious and difficult journeys.Now in on the sunny side of sexy and the sunny side 60’s I much prefer my Eagle Creek suitcase on wheels. Our luggage is a wee heavier with those comfort needs…portable coffee press, drawing pads and colored pencils. Instead of a Zero or sub-star lodging, give us a two star hotelAnd of course I love traveling with my favorite travel buddy of all time Zoe. The great travel buddy: too many people are just not cut out for flexible traveling
As we have seen in our trip to many people like the package tour and all the comfort and insulation that entails. I was horrified to see a monstrous, cruise ship docking in the narrow fjord of Kodar, Montenegro. This ship stuck its prow into the port over the land some 25 to 50 m. It was like a huge penis inserted onto the land. Then in the morning thousands of people were disgorged from the bowels of the ship. They took their photos and scurried back to the 16 dining rooms on board and sailed away in the comfort of their suites. Many of the people were hardly much older than we are. But at least people are getting out and traveling.
Friends on the road – when we were younger and staying in youth hostels or campgrounds you would always meet fellow travelers and have the joy of exchanging information about the coolest places to go. With the constraints of time and work, for many of us we need to be more methodical in our trip in our planning. And as we have gotten older we certainly like knowing were going to sleep at the end of the day. Yet, in the way that we travel we find a place between going with the flow and having a comfortable bed to sleep in at the end of the day.
Every traveler needs to decide what his or her comfort zone is. Some people love to travel from five-star hotel to five star hotel and truth be known sometimes I look a little jealous at that kind of traveling, but not often.
We have found that too many people we’ve tried to travel with just are not into the traveling head. People too often imposing plan an organization, and they see us as disorganized. Ironically, we are very organized and methodical in our travel. Because we’re so used to traveling we are like the right and left hands working together. We know how to find trains and buses easily in just about any corner of the globe even when we don’t speak the language. We are not always successful but generally we get were going without too much fuss or muss. We also trust each other and value the insight and experience of the other. We are equal in our traveling expertise but in our unique ways. Zoe is much better at booking flights and accommodations, but I can and have booked planes and accommodations easily. It is a joy to travel with someone where you feel like it is the right and left side of the body walking fluidly through the streets.
When we go our separate ways during the day with different activities that is also fun but most times we like doing things together. We are both history and archaeology fanatics. Zoe has a great background in classical archaeology and I have a lifelong passion for history in particular Islamic art and architecture. Our range of archaeology interest is broad. When we were split in Yugoslavia at the palace of Diocletian, we were in absolute heaven.
Despite the crowds of tourist we managed to discover unique places throughout the former Diocletian palace in Split. Because we have so much background in antiquities there was a whole world that was open and before our eyes. We invite people to stop listening to the tourist guides; most were just reciting some trite insight, and simply look around and be awed by the spectacular beauty around you.
At the Diocletian palace, in particular by the Silver Gate and there are four main gates still visible at the palace. Almost all of these have been rebuilt but the silver gate has remained fairly intact. We spent hours walking around the area of the silver gate. As we look at this entrance
way that is some 3 to 4 stories tall with vast stone arches, we felt we were transported back in time.
Why do we travel?
After three months, we are back in Vermont, and the autumn is simply glorious. One of the most beautiful places on the entire planet is here in southern Vermont. I am biased and I could make a convincing argument that is beautiful in all the season, even mud season I could not imagine a life where I did not travel, in particular, around the globe. It is not so much discovering what is “out there,” but discovering what is inside.
Like gypsies of old
let’s wander the globe.
Like gypsies of old
let’s wander the globe
Let the change of tide
be the one to decide.
Let the sway of a day
tell us how we’ll play
When cold winds blow
then we’ll surely go
to Morocco bound
that perfect sound.
Under a sheltering sky
we’ll surrender our why
as castles made of sand
slip away from the land
In our caravan for two.
each day will be new
freedoms’ sweet delight
is each mornings light.
At sixty-two our best travel years lie ahead. Perhaps not as adventurous as when we were younger, but our travel informed by our insatiable curiosity of the world, meeting new friends, sharing art and songs, creating new projects and helping folks when we can, and if the USA drifts any further to the Right (though mostly wrong and if it moves much further it will fall off the clioff) we can pick out a place of refuge.. I hold my Irish/ Eu passport close.
Yes, we are the high living, high rolling hobos living the good life as best as we can, as free as we dare. Stay tuned for more… this ONLY the introduction. Enjoy your travels and journey through life!