Gimme Some Oven

An Introduction to Tuesday Travels

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Visby, Sweden 2012

Travel opens my eyes. When I set foot in another city or a different country, I can’t just move along half-aware of my surroundings. Everything comes into sharper focus — the food, the faces of strangers, the smells. And time expands. Because on a trip, everything matters and I am paying attention.

Travel does a body good. But schedules and bank accounts and other responsibilities can easily diminish the possibility of first-person foreign adventures. Thankfully, during those times there are books full of adventures and tales of other places.

So, whether you need to reminisce about places you’ve been, or dream of places you yet long to see — you’re in good company here. Especially on Tuesdays.

Over the years, I have travelled in Canada, Mexico, England, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Thailand, Spain, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Rwanda, Kenya, New Zealand, Sweden and Estonia (mostly in that order). And, I have found a correlation between my response to a country and how well I know and love its literature and poetry. So, it’s no surprise that the UK and Ireland are at the top of my list. Or, that my favourite thing when it comes to travelling is to go back there again (which I have done several times). So, does that mean that if I’m a re-reader, I’m also a re-traveller?

“Stuff your eyes with wonder” Bradbury wrote in Fahrenheit 451. And we are capable of doing so every day, wherever we find ourselves, but I think that the adventure of travel is often the thing that reminds me of the importance of his command.

Perfect example: sunsets. I love sunsets — whether they’re subtle or vibrant, monochrome or rainbow sherbet. And yet, for the most part I’m content to miss seeing the sun set most nights. If I happen to be driving at sunset, I am thankful that I get to watch it unfold, but rarely make an effort to prolong the moment.

But, a few weeks ago I was in Visby, Sweden (on the island of Gotland). The medieval city itself is ridiculously wonderful and I was soaking it up, taking pictures of ruins and red leaves, when my friend, Donna, started noticing the sun setting.

It was just beginning, so everything was awash in a golden luminescence. I can’t remember now exactly how events unfolded but at some point we were practically running to the sea in order to catch the sunset. I felt like I couldn’t get words out, or take pictures fast enough. And I wanted to laugh and jump up and down and be still all at once. That day, I took Bradbury at his word. (The feature image on this post is from that sunset, the one I didn’t let get away.)

what have you learned from travelling?
what places do you find yourself returning to again and again? 

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bet mercer

Bet Mercer is a poet-photographer who writes at Gimme Some Reads and Everyday Poetry. She loves quotes, reading her favourite books over again, great conversation, laughter, trees, films, and travelling the world. Follow along with Bet on Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Flickr, Etsy and Google+.

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14 comments on “An Introduction to Tuesday Travels”

  1. AH! This photo is so gorgeous and set to just the right quote. I don’t think I’ve done enough travelling yet, but I have noticed that it helps remove me from the center of the universe, so to speak. Getting out of my daily patterns helps break up my contant selfishness and remind me that there’s more to life than my little needs and wants. LOVE the Travel Tuesdays theme!

    • definitely. it seems to sift those petty parts of us right out–often because it first surfaces them, and then you gladly send them packing. :)

  2. Beth this is a great reminder that even though we would love to be traveling all over the world we can still see the beauty and the wonder around us on a daily basis.. thanks for sharing!

  3. Garh! That makes me want to travel again so bad! I think when I did the backpacking thing in the UK for a few weeks, it made me realize I could do a whole lot more than I had ever given myself credit for. I was stronger than I thought. It was a good feeling, and a good reminder of that today.

    • beautifully put, melody! yes. i’ve felt that, too–that i am more capable than i give myself credit for being. it’s that whole — because i have to, i can.

  4. I think I may actually be just getting off work tonight around the sunset, and now I really want to stop for a moment and see it! Crazy, but most days I completely forget that it’s watch-able (beyond in passing).

    Love this post. Makes me all the more excited and hopeful for next month!

  5. The beach….Hong Kong…East Africa….I have so many destinations that I’d love to see, but when it comes down to the money and time, I mostly want to just go to the Ocean or to a place that already has my heart. Sadly not a lot of famous authors come out of the places I love the most, but I still have a few favorite reads by African authors or on themes around those places.

  6. We try to go somewhere and stick around for a while, but we haven’t really returned to the same places, unless it was the site of a family reunion/vacation and everyone wanted to go back. But I know that wherever I travel I am mostly interested in checking out whatever nature there is to see, such a parks, gardens, the beach or just walking around and looking at people’s yards if they are interesting. We both love to check out local food joints, although we don’t go for very expensive places. We often talk about food places we want to revisit – I constantly think about Portland’s food carts and tacos! In cities we love to find a coffee shop where we can sit for hours and chat while taking in the sites.
    Mostly I can’t believe how much closer Andre and I feel while traveling and/or living abroad. It’s like we’re able to really live during those moments in a way we can’t or don’t otherwise.

    • beautiful observation, katie. and i’m glad that you two are on just such another adventure right now! with all kinds of fascinating food! :)

  7. Traveling abroad is a great way to step out of my routine, reflect on life, and gain a better perspective. I particularly enjoy traveling to places where I do not speak the native language (although I’d love to be multilingual!) because it is easier to step away from not only my routine but also the noise created by our culture. It’s easier to turn off the news (because I can’t understand it anyway!), forget about what (I perceive as) expectations and how our society defines success, and accept myself and my life as is. Taking off the glasses of my own culture is one of the best things I’ve learned from traveling. The effect is so much greater when living abroad because in that time between first arriving and finally beginning to communicate in the host language and pick up on the host culture expectations and cultural noise, there is a unique peace.

    • good on you for being brave enough to step further into the unknown. i must admit, i don’t see being in a completely different culture that doesn’t speak english as a way to quiet down the noise — for me it tends to ramp it up, because i can’t make sense of it. but perhaps, next time i’ll try to look at it the way you described it and see what happens. :)