Travel as Discovery – Part 1

It’s Not Where You Go That Matters

If traveling is about discovery, does it really matter where you go? Or is it about what you find and absorb when you get there — and uncover about the place and about yourself.

Take these two images from a recent trip to Prague. The old world character of centuries old structures in the Mala Strana neighborhood is juxtaposed rather profoundly just a few blocks away by the John Lennon Wall. I found myself gravitating again and again to that area of Prague because I liked its vibe.

And, the more I saw contrasting images like these, the more I became convinced that the people who crafted those towering domed spires centuries ago would have embraced readily and enthusiastically the sentiment spray-painted on the wall: “you’re too young to think it’s not going to be okay.”

After all, why build a towering spire at all if it’s not going to be okay?

Travel is discovery. Of architecture. Of ideas. Of how you react to the collision of old and new, and what happens inside you when you experience something or someplace different. Do you take a picture and move on — or do you let it change you inside in some way you hadn’t expected it to?

Take Prague. Or rather, take me back and leave me there. As Will Shakespeare surely must have written in Prague, “If music be the food of love, play on.” Whether it was stumbling onto baroque chamber music played by a quartet in an ornate, gilded church tucked away, almost hidden, on a side street or the musicians of delicious talent playing along the Charles Bridge, with music coming from a flute or an acoustic guitar or a soulful violin, music is as much Prague as its castle. And you can walk on by or you can stop for a bit to let that music and the talent behind it creep inside you.

I’m a lingerer. I like to sit in the church long after the chamber music has stopped and listen as it continues to echo through my soul. I like to linger, perhaps longer than you normally might, in a crowd and listen to the flute player or guitarist or violinist, with the passers-by passing on by while the music fills me up and helps me define Prague in ways the players probably never intended when they went out to collect some spending money.

In some other cities, a number of street musicians were more wrinkled with an age that only amplified their talent. But, in Prague so much of the music I stopped to absorb was delivered by fresh faces “too young to think it’s not going to be okay.

This discovery wasn’t why I went to Prague, but it changed me a bit, and for the better.

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With an increasingly pointless amount of arguably useless information packed inside my head, and a totally inappropriate number of opinions about virtually everything, and a family who must suffer through listening to both, it seemed only fitting to foist them upon others who care to read and react. Now well past 60 years old, this is an outlet intended not to unleash but enlighten, myself much more than others.

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