Friday, January 10, 2014

Been Thinking About: Eat, Pray, Love

Bali (photo credit:
I've been thinking about the movie, Eat, Pray, Love and how it changed the way people feel about two important activities -- travel and divorce.  The movie makes travel look very attractive. The amazing landscapes, streets, hotels, colors and people of Italy, Indonesia and India are hard to forget.  But I would guess most women viewers took away the notion that going on a distant adventure was something they could do and should do and it would make them a new person. We want travel to change us, perhaps makes us wiser.

Having been divorced, I think the movie made that legal adventure look much more fun and a lot more simple that it is. But I want to focus on the travel aspect here.

I'm just back from a six-week book tour through Europe where I was staying in small hotels, big hotels and with friends, a mix of each in a wide range of countries -- Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France and the UK, in the order I visited them.  There was something I expected in every visit that was delivered to different degrees.  I expected a clean, safe place to stay, but also a unique place that gave me access to the country and the people of that country.

No one takes better care of you than your friends abroad when they welcome you into their own home. My friends went out of their way to welcome me and show me their country. The best way to learn about the culture of the country is living the daily life of your friends in that country. That said, I believe the best way to keep friends who are generous enough to put you up, is to make your stay short and be a very helpful, tidy, cooperative guest.

In small hotels, there were many unique local features and welcoming innkeepers not too different from my friends who invited me into their homes. In large hotels, there was top notch cleanliness, easy access to the town centers and excellent amenities, together with anonymity which you need some days.

Travel is the business of having adventures and making memories.  The literal meaning of "souvenir" is "memory" and not a little pencil or mug or t-shirt made in China that says "Roma" on it. When we travel we hope to carry home unique "souvenirs" of a time and place, where we lived and learned and became a wiser person, maybe even fell in love once or twice.

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