Friday, February 12, 2016

The Romance of Travel

A romantic beach at sunset
Valentine's Day is at hand, and many people take this opportunity to get away with their significant other (are we still using that phrase?) for a long romantic weekend or rendezvous in some exquisite location.  Images of walking hand-in-hand on pink-sand beaches, and scrawling out a big heart on the wet shore with our initials etched within it, come to mind.  And it's the perfect time for it, too.  Winter still has most of the land in its icy grip in February, so the chance to get away to somewhere warm and inviting has an undeniably romantic allure.

But a romantic trip does not require a beach, nor even a significant other.  In fact, when I look back on the trips I have taken, they all seem to have a romantic quality to them, regardless of whether I was with a romantic partner or not.  The mystery, the excitement, the exotic destinations, all contribute to the feeling.  There is just something innately romantic about travel, in and of itself.

Musicians at a restaurant in Tangiers, Morocco
Walking on different streets, on foreign soil, in places with their own distinct characters and histories, full of people speaking in different accents or languages ... all of this contributes to a feeling of being somewhat starry-eyed, or of starring in our very own movie.  We become observers, we take it all in with the eyes of a child or a writer or an artist or a photographer.

Everything is a new vista, a new experience.  We visit places where history was made or significant words were spoken.  We sit on park benches or in train stations and watch how people live their lives, or imagine how they live them.  Travel is seductive and never loses its glamour, even after it becomes nothing more than a memory.

Ah, such memories!  To fall in love with traveling is to fall in love with a partner who is always ready to meet you no matter where you want to go.

Last month I posted some photos on this blog from my trip to Alaska, one of the most romantic trips I have ever taken.  I was not there with a sweetheart, only some good friends, but there was something about the amazing scenery and landscapes, the moose we encountered almost everywhere we went in town, the day cruise on ice-covered waters where bald eagles and other wildlife were abundant, the helicopter trip up to a glacier and along the magnificent shores of Prince William Sound, seeing animals in person that I have never seen before, and crunching through the snow to get sour dough pancakes in the morning and the most succulent steaks in the evening, that made it such an amazing trip.  (Friends and plenty of laughter didn't hurt, either.)

Seward, Alaska
I fell in love with Alaska, and that's what made it so romantic.  I never expected to love Alaska as much as I did, and I can't even tell you exactly what it was that made me fall so deeply.  It was the first time I'd ever eaten an oyster (and possibly the last), the first time I had ever been on a helicopter, and the first time I ever saw a moose.

It was a new environment, new experiences, and new memories.  It was each of the little things, and the whole of it put together.  It was everything and nothing in particular.  I look back on that trip with a wistful sigh, knowing that somehow it can never be repeated, but the feeling of it will last with me for a lifetime.

Religious procession in front of the
Catedral de Segovia, Spain
The first time I went to Spain was like that, too.  I could almost hear the ancient, ghostly horses of history clopping their hooves on the cobblestoned street beneath my hotel window.  Romantic.

Their breath was in the wind, the import of their missions hung in the air.  In the company of friends, we bought bottles of crazily inexpensive wine, cheese and fruit, and headed uphill to enjoy the sunset in the mountains.  Other evenings we would sit outdoors at a café watching the people go by and talking for hours with our professors about the art and history of Spain, enjoying the most delicious sautéed champiñones over crusty bread, glasses of wine, dainty cups of café con leche, and warm cognac cocktails.  Romance at its finest.

Ski town in the French Alps
When I went to France, my friends left during the day to go skiing in the French Alps of Chamonix and Les Houches.  I wandered around town enjoying the picturesque scenery, the old churches, the sight of overhead ski gondolas and paragliding skiers.  I bought bottles of wine, a loaf of bread, some cheese and an assortment of macarons to bring back to my hotel room for a mid-day repast.

There and then, alone with my book, sitting on the balcony with a glass of wine, bread and cheese in this French mountain village, I couldn't have enjoyed life any more.  The sun shone down and the air was crisp, and I loved every minute of my time before rejoining the gang for socializing in the evening.

Edinburgh Castle
New Orleans holds the romance of pirates, cable cars, river boats, creole peoples and cooking.

San Francisco's piers, dim sum, street cars and hilly streets has a romance all its own, as well.

Edinburgh has the romance of the most perfect castle I have ever seen, and streets that seemed oddly familiar to me even though it was my first time there.

Italy is full of the most attractive people I've ever seen, and the food is amazing.

England has the double-decker buses, red phone booths, pubs, royalty and charming accents that fill our imaginations and movie screens.

I did not expect to fall in love with Paris, yet I did.

Lounging on the secluded beach of Howard Hughes' Xanadu Beach Resort in the Bahamas, watching the hummingbirds flitter about us and the plentiful hibiscus bushes, was a romantic time.  In fact, any time I can watch the sunset over the ocean with a glass of wine in my hand is a perfect evening for me.  And any cruise I have ever been on has been highly romantic, leaning against the rail of the ship watching the dolphins race beside us, or just watching the constant and hypnotic waves roll by.

There was something very romantic about the ornately patterned fabrics all over the restaurant we dined at in Morocco, and the romance of snuggling in front of a fire inside a cabin in the Rockies on a snowy November evening cannot be denied.

Elton John at the Colosseum, Caesars Palace, Las Vegas
Even watching Elton John perform in Las Vegas last month carried the romance of a life-long love affair with my favorite rock star.  No matter where I go, romance is to be found.

At the end of the day, romance feeds the heart and soul wherever and however we find it.  No matter where you are or who you're with, those special moments and sensual pleasures that fill our spirit, the company of people who make us feel beloved and appreciated, the feelings we create, the memories that we savor and will never forget, and all of the special little things we do that sets this particular time and place apart from our normal existence ... that's romance!  And that's what makes travel so romantic.

Romantic journeys to all!

Happy Valentine's Day!!


Enjoy previous seasonal blog posts:

Romancing Your Life
Setting the scene to fall in love with your own life.
Romantic Foods
Something special ...
New Year's Resolutions
A list of fun things to look forward to in the year ahead!
A Fresh Start
Smoothies to begin the year off right!
How It All Began
The very beginnings of Afternoon Tea.
A Very Foodie Town
It's almost time for Restaurant Week again!
Pear Tart, Part Deux
There's a time for rustic, and a time for elegant.
Salty Sweets
Finishing salts on your dessert.
What's Your Favorite Cake?
If only I could pick just one!
Spring Cleaning
Tackling and taming the clutter.

No comments:

Post a Comment