“For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel’s sake. The great affair is to move.” said Robert Louis Stevenson. Well put. I love travel and transportation holidays are my favorites. Perhaps because as a child I remember wonderful driving excursions with my family on Sunday afternoons when my Father, who was a real estate developer, would do one of the things he enjoyed best: looking at real estate. Like a proper tour guide, Poppy would point out properties of beauty and interest. I distinctly remember him taking us by one home which was pretty, but then quickly became magical when I learned who the owner was. It belonged to the Howard Johnson’s family. And I immediately fantasied about how lucky the children inside must have been to enjoy what I could only presume was a delicious and endless supply of ice cream. This was not just a house, but a home with a story inside. So whether by car, train or boat, the love of slow moving transportation adventures where you got to sit still, while the world, like a movie, unfolded in front of you, was born.
The most recent trip was on-board the ROVOS RAIL through South Africa. 9 days filled with no packing and unpacking. Pure joy. It began when we arrived in Pretoria at a charming train station where a violinist played softly and slender glasses of champagne were served despite the unusual time for such things, 9 a.m. The libation sure beat a cup of coffee and was the first indication that we had entered another world where we made the rules and normal time was suspended. It was all so Agatha Christie right down to the requirement that passengers “dress” for dinner which was beautifully served in your choice of one of two wonderfully decorated dining cars with windows as wide as you’d want to take in all the miles of landscape rolling by.
That is the best part of train travel. Seeing a new world unfold right before your eyes. You cover so much ground. Even at night you are moving, albeit a bit excessively at times, until you awake to gourmet grub and an excellent plan for the day. Safari. Golf. Walking tours. Followed by a lovely “welcome back” party complete with refreshments and lunch before you relax in your king sized cabin. But even there the sights and sounds of your journey continue as you pass by ever changing landscapes and people living their own lives.
It’s an education Seneca wrote, “Travel and change of place impart new vigor to the mind.” But it is also much more.“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” said Mark Twain.
So much of what we saw was beautiful. Some of the scenes were thought provoking. And that is what travel is about isn’t it? Observing and thinking and comparing and wishing for more or ultimately, becoming incredibly pleased with what you’ve got. So, try a train. Or take a drive. Cruise in a kayak. Bike through a new town. Move and observe and engage with the people and places you encounter. You will rarely regret it .
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