When I was clambering up the side of what our guide called a ‘hill’ in the Talkeetna Mountains in Alaska in 2004, I wondered if this travel thing was such a good idea. Being home curled up on my couch seemed a much better idea than puffing and panting my way to the top of what I called a mountain. But, of course, it is the challenges you overcome along the way that build the total travel experience.
When I made it to the top of that hill/mountain in Alaska, I was pretty tired but very pleased with myself. This hiking was probably the most physically demanding thing I’d done, and was only done as part of keeping my side of a bargain with my husband. My desire to cruise the Inside Passage could only be achieved by agreeing to go hiking with my husband first, and while the experience of sitting alone of top of a mountain in Alaska is a rare one, and one I’ll not forget, I’ll never go hiking again.
Now cruising – that we have done twice since Alaska, and we are now planning our fourth journey. Less physical challenge is involved certainly. The experience needs to be designed carefully to avoid the sensation of disembarking in an port with nearly 3000 other people and overwhelming the locals. But, seeing Hubbard Glacier from a ship and watching and hearing it calve was a travel experience I’ll never forget.
For me, travel is a reminder that there is more to our planet and our global culture than what we have here in Australia. It’s also about linking past and present, so going where we can see civilisations past is always a motivation for decisions about destinations. But, it’s also about a break from the busy-ness of reality, and making the space to see and experience new things beyond my day-to-day life. Each travel experience is cumulative – the more I see and do, the more I appreciate the need for tolerance in the world and the more I understand that, despite apparent differences, we are all just people trying to do the best we can in our little part of the planet.
My favourite places include Pompeii and Ephesus – the power of civilisation past – and yes, the top of that hill in Alaska – the power of me! I, like most others I am sure, enjoyed Tuscany and our week in San Gimignano. Paris was a short trip for work, and a place to be revisited one day, and I feel very comfortable every time I visit the United Kingdom. The next trip is a cruise around the Baltic, and then we plan to head for the Galapagos and Macchu Pichu. Of course, the only issue for this trip is whether or not we should hike the Inca Trail – this time, I think I will wait for my husband at the top, and let him have that experience all to himself!