The Art of Travel

18 Jan

Having just returned from a three month travel adventure, consisting of six weeks around Holland, in a tiny boat with my husband and Mr Parker Bond Ives- Whittle International dog of mystery  and one month in Indonesia with a few weeks stop off back home in the UK for good measure, I feel inspired to write about, The Art of Travel.

Why do we travel? Is it Art? We, I say we, human kind have evolved through the means of movement through the need for survival, from when time began, to grow and to live. Movement encouraged finding food, water and increasing territories to sustain and multiple the pack, the herd, the family. And indeed this in itself is art, purely to stay alive. And as this blog is about creativity, craft, words, design, music and more. I feel Travel comes under this category as it is an art for the definition of art is

a skill at doing a specified thing , typically one acquired through practice.”

Through practice, travel can become an art, to some and in fact it become’s such an obession it takes over their lives, and for others it is purely an escape.

Travel has always intrigued me with its own evolution, in our society today why do people still travel and move around? Especially when there are so many more reasons to stay at home and actually not bother going anywhere. There are amazing places out there to see, so much so, certain places have been deemed the “wonders of the world”. Whether that still applies, I’m not quite so sure. Apparently the Taj Mahal is about to sink in anything from 2 -5 years through subsidence, but its one of the seven wonders of the world , how can this happen? But I digress.

And why bother to travel all that way, when you can see it or look it up online. And there are other excuses, that home you have nested in, the family, friends, work, your favourite soap, you say you cannot afford it. Basically you believe you have comfort, security, stability. So many people never go away, even on a well deserved holiday after spending 40 hours a week working. I’ve often received comments from friends that I’m lucky I have so much time “off” and that they have clocked up several months worth of holiday from work, with allocated days/weeks even being carried over form previous years. They perceive it that they just cannot afford to take that time off, not even bearing a financial reason but that they will be missed at work.

Some might say this is survival, to stay ahead at work, to be top of your career, to simply pay the bills. I think its purely existing. But what employer in the world wants a tired, stressed out, cant be bothered employee whom has lost all enthusiasm for their work just because they didn’t give themselves some rest  or a well deserved break?

There are so many reasons now for travelling. Sorry for those that are carbon friendly, but flying is budget and affordable nowadays, there are charter flights that are running like buses , meaning you can and could if you wanted to, commute to another country for work quite easily, or go on that well deserved weekend break. Even trains and buses do amazing tours and routes now for the slightly more eco travellers out there. Due to economy and people feeling more at ease with travel, more and more people are setting up second homes in more economically friendly countries. Meaning there is also no need for even thinking or having the fear in you losing stability and security, when you can equally have roots else where. In fact sometimes that reason to go away can re-afirm those things that actually mean something to you by not having them around, it makes them even more meaningful and also strangely at the same time, more at eases about not having them around all the time. I was one of those people. Less can be more.

Having been lucky to start traveling at an early age, (17 I went inter railing around Europe by myself) I think I developed the desire to find adventures new. When most were just happy if they could go to Ibiza and get hammered with their mates , stick shots of sambucca glasses to their nipples, drink irresponsibly , pass out drunk in the street showing their hairy Mary,  to quite frankly the ugliest most disgusting creature on the planet. To then somehow glorify it that they had an amazing times with their BFF’s and had snogged 12 men (he was two years older than me, yeah) in one night. Nice! Anyway I digress, but I’ve heard many ugly stories. It wasn’t what I wanted, and most will also think Mummy and Daddy paid for me and that most cannot afford even the beer swilling, puke adventures of Ibiza at 17,  let alone travelling around Europe for a month. I in fact came from a single parent family, by 17 I’d already been working part time whilst at school and college for sometimes up to 25 hours week, as well as studying, looking after my brother and still seeing friends. I paid for myself to travel because I really wanted to do it, and that was washing up dishes in a boozer. Anyone that ever says they cannot afford something, really should just re-arrange their priorities, or work harder at trying to achieve something that they want.

Anyway back to why I wanted to travel, where did it come from? As I said there are lots of reasons for, but at 17, most of those reasons didn’t apply to me. And it didn’t come from either of my parents as neither of them ever went anywhere. I put my intrigue for travel down to two reasons. Number one being my Grandparents. Unfortunately out of war comes travel for most, the youngest of family members can be suddenly up rooted and dispatched with little information as to where they are going, to any corner of the world, all in the call of duty, and that is indeed what happened to my grandparents in the second world war, they ended up being posted in India. In fact this is where my Nana met my Grandad. They got married in India and my Granddad documented everything. Ever since I have been old enough to understand their adventures I have pawed over the black and white photos in the huge leather bound photo album that sits under their g-plan coffee table and was totally mesmorised. I hope one day to share these amazing photographs. India looked to me like another planet. Even in black and white I knew it was probably one of the most vibrant and colourful places on earth. I was taken literally on a journey to somewhere I could never possibly imagine in REAL life. I still haven’t visited India, even though I’ve been to a lot of other countries. One day Id like to go, to follow my Grandparents adventures there and to write some of their memoires, but part of me is scared, in case it never is the way that I imagine. And even I know that is ridiculous, as you never see the wonders in the world unless you get out of your comfort zone, and more often than not they go beyond your expectations, if you really look for the true adventures in life. Anyway number one I owe it to them they opened up my eyes to the mysteries of the world, that I wanted to explore!

Number 2 is Creativity. I’m not sure what came first the pictures or the words  or the noise, for my fascination in other lands were often due to the arts. Pictures by meaning of, all the greats and their wonderful inspirations through where they live and their travels.

                                               Claude Monet and that bridge (France) the water lilies

                                                Andy Warhol New York

                                               Jean Michel Basquait, (New York)

And words and noise, by meaning the musicians and their lyrics and their sounds, their strange accents and out there music videos,  to whom I was obsessed with growing up as a teenager and even still now. From the Beatles and the Rolling Stones and looking at their travels, landing in foreign countries and being screamed at by all their adoring fans, to the cultures they became exposed to (India and The White Album for the Beatles) that became so influencial in their music.

                                               The Beatles (India)

Hell the rollingstones wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t from their collection of USA imports of blues records.

Cocksucker Blues is an unreleased documentary film directed by Robert Frank chronicling The Rolling Stones’ North American tour in 1972 in support of their album Exile on Main Street 

To the wonderful and exubrant artisits such as Bob Marley, Jamaica.

What a place, I still want to visit Jamaica, all these worlds opened up by music legends. I could go on all day but Im sensing this blog post is getting pretty long already.

So in a nut shell here are some of my “The ART OF TRAVEL” top tips.

1) Meeting People –  new, interesting, worldy and wise people. Life is pretty short so embrace any new person, culture and experience with open eyes and an open mind, as you never know what it may bring. New inspirations, creative collaborations, or just new friends.

2) Arts and crafts from unique cultures and places. Some crafts are developed and learnt through many many families  and traditions passed onto the next generation, there are many that in a modern society are starting to lose the battle and will get forgotten.

3.) Cooking – Take in a traditional or local cooking course where ever you travel. What better way to get creative than with food, you learn about the local produce and then you get to learn new cooking skills and share with some new like- minded people and then you get to stuff you face with all the yummy ingredients.

4.) Reading – Wether its about the places you are traveling to or around, or just some time to actually get your head into a good book. As quite frankly TV kills absolutely everything that is a lot more fulfilling in life. Read Read Read, there is nothing like a good book to escape when you are errrr escaping…..

5.) Listening – Yes strange I know but listening is an art, most of us forget to do it, most of the time. Its all too easy to get wrapped up in your own world and generally go about day to day, conversing, gossiping, interacting with others, going about your daily buisness, but how much of it is positive and how much do you actual listen to yourself and to others. We all too easily forget to just listen. Traveling can open you ears to what is actually going on around you. And if not you can find the art of meditation or other relaxation techniques along the way, to maybe guide you.

6.) Music – music travels. We learn and discover whole new countries and cities and cultures through music. Try it yourself, music workshops are out there on your travels, or if not take in a show and experience the local sound.

7.) Writing – Travel journals are a great way to keep your thoughts on travels as a memento, privately or for some to tone their creative writing skills. Some even turn it into work. Freelance travel writers get the luxury now with internet connections and self published blogs of reaching out to a wider audience. An absolute favourite laugh out loud travel blog writer I know is Saul’s Regurgitations in Foreign Nations here is his first ever blog entry and the beginnings to his adventures:

Number 1′s

Posted on January 17, 2009

OK.  This is how its been so far (my journey i mean, not my life, dont wanna put you off before we start!)  Bruce (our li’l home on wheels) made it to the Alps.  You have no idea how much this means to me.  Basically, it means the start of my new life can move forward rather than having to retreat back home, tail between legs, whimpering for forgiveness to all those i spat in the face of and ran off assuming i’d never see them again.  Phew!  During our 4 or 5 day journey (i’ll explain in due course), we stayed in some pretty mad places in ol’ Bruce.  Namely, and a photo of this will appear in due course, a parking space off a main road, shrouded in fog, resembling something out of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.  When i heard footsteps outside in the dead of night, it was all i could do to stop myself calling my boss and asking for my job old job back at 4 in the a.m.  Anyways, other than the scene from a Romero movie, we stayed in town hall car parks and service station truck stops.  On Thursday, i showered for the first time in 6 days!  Ive been writing a li’l diary of events and just read the first line.  It goes like this…”Whilst writing, Steve (my travel buddy) urinates in a bottle.  I can see my breath without even breathing, its that cold.  Gotta be minus 5 in here, yet we are excited and prepared for adventure”.  Let me tell you, the excitement has abated somewhat due to the fact that that wasn’t our last experience of low temperatures, as everynight in the heart of Bruce, with Steve alternating between sniffing and snoring, as well as the occasional guff, the temperature has decsended to well below freezing.  That means that it’s very cold.  In fact, everything inside Bruce freezes.  EVERYTHING!!  Ever had iced milk on your cerials?  Ever had to sit on your toothpaste for 20 minutes for it to defrost?  Ever been too scared to get up in case your frosted nipples chafe against your ice’d vest and fall off?  Ok, you get the message.  Its cold.  DAMN COLD!!  But you know, in a funny sort of way, its part and parcel of adventure and at this moment, i wouldn’t change it for anything….. except for maybe some warm soup, a fireplace, running water, the safety of knowing my house isn’t about to be towed away by the authorities!  Leaving Dover and seeing England departing ever further from the boat i was on felt like some kinda Goodbye i’ve never experienced.  A finality that was self-induced and that felt like a re-union that would never evolve.  My decision but few goodbye’s are forever, i must remember to myself.  Oh Lord, i just remembered something slightly amusing.  We stayed a night in St Dizier, named after Dizzy Rascal i’m sure, and we stumbled upon a bar/tabac (crazy li’l places that sell every type of tabacco and well expensive, crap beer.  We entered and it was like that scene in American Werewolf in London when David and Jack enter the slaughtered lamb.  I thought maybe Steve had taken his clothes off behind me and reversed in on all fours, the way we were greeted.  Luckily, i didn’t mention the Alamo!  Anyhoo, we get our double whiskeys, for we knew the events that would unfold back in Bruce (oo-er) and sat down amid middle aged soft rockers to be serenaded by a dvd of ZZ Top live in Texas!  These mulleted dudes in this bar were rockin’ to ‘The Top’ like it was Saturday night… which it was, but still.  Can you adam an’ eve it?  ZZ Top at full blast and it wasn’t even an accident.  Someone actually put it on and everyone was rockin off on’ it!!  2 things i learnt immediately after that episode.  Never ever go to Texas.  And fuck ZZ Top.

By Saul Abbott.

He is currently traveling around India,  read about his adventures!

Just imagine what great creative things can come out of traveling, even traveling on your way to work, make it an experience not an endurance!


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