What is the best way to travel? Most people would surely argue that flying is better than going by road, but if you fly you see nothing of the land, terrain, towns, villages and people between here and there. The road is more interesting than the sky. If you have a week off work and want to spend it on a warm beach or in a particular resort, then a journey that takes three days each way is not very practical. Indeed if your destination is your primary interest or objective and it takes hours to get there by air, and if your time is limited to a week or two, then traveling by road or by sea is not a viable option. But if you have time to travel and no specific reason to spend much time at your destination, or if you have no particular destination in mind, traveling in itself can be quite an interesting adventure.
- India by train
- Ireland by bike
- Almost Anywhere
Go Your Own Way
Some people have been to the Taj Mahal, the Red Fort and the Ganges at Varanasi and they believe they know India. But visiting a few tourist attractions is much less interesting than getting from the international airport to a small hotel by rickshaw and then to the various attractions by train. This is the way to meet people, see how they live and begin to understand them. Of course the understanding is only superficial but at least it is something.
Getting from airport to hotel and from hotel to tourist attraction and air conditioned restaurant by air conditioned coach does not give a tourist any feeling of the country or its people. If you plan your own itinerary, find your own hotels and buy your own bus tickets, eat with the locals and travel with them on their buses, you can get to know them and eventually come away with some knowledge of their culture. Indian food is delicious. Looking at the fresh meat surrounded by flies at the open air fresh food markets may put you off the idea, but going vegetarian is easier in India than anywhere else. The variety of fruits at those markets is something to investigate and taste and not to be missed. The same could be said of their desserts.
The colourful clothes collectively make a fantastic sight. The people and their way of life are different from Western Europeans but this is what makes the whole experience so interesting. They are wonderfully friendly and completely harmless.
This is not to say that everything is the stuff of dreams. The number of beggars and their physical conditions, for example, are not pleasant things to encounter. These and other things may be shocking or staggering but it does us no harm to open our eyes and see how things are in parts of the world outside our secluded and privileged urban and suburban habitats.
Get to Know Your Own Country
It is amazing how little some people know about their own countries. They may know about the government and the national sports and the population statistics, but people are quite unadventurous and do not know many towns other than their own. Even in these days of mass communication and social networking over the internet, people in Newcastle still speak with a regional accent very distinct from those in Birmingham or Bristol. The same applies between London and Manchester, and this is because the people of London grow up with and mix with Londoners. Very many of them know nothing of Cumbria or Northumbria. It is really very easy, during a few days off work, to drive or ride around another, foreign part of your own country. Stay in Bed & Breakfast accommodation and get to know a few locals. Visit the local pubs and restaurants. Get to know different parts of your own country as well as different parts of the world.
Get to Know Like-Minded People
People who think along these lines are a little unusual and do not quite fit in the mainstream of holiday ideas. It might be a good idea to get some cheap flyers printed, suggesting a social gathering or just providing an email or website where similar people from a particular part of the world can meet and get to know and share ideas with each other. You could ask your pub landlord to hand them out or you could do so at the station.
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