Musings on my pre-trip trip

Trip Start Sep 20, 2009
1
14
Trip End Ongoing


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Where I stayed
Natalie's Parents House

Flag of Canada  , Ontario,
Wednesday, September 16, 2009

And so it begins...sort of. I'm in transit now, heading to Toronto from Ottawa. I suppose one could consider this the start of my trip. I’ve left the house, the family, and the dog behind and am officially living out of a suitcase. I’m also inexplicably wearing my nifty passport/money belt thing under my shirt. Ask anyone, once you don the money belt you are officially travelling.

To start things off on the right foot, and to take a step towards adopting the European way of life, I decided to use via rail for the trip. The train does seem like it’s the civilized way to travel. I’ve got leg room to spare and through the window I’m watching Lake Ontario warm up from the beating rays of the sunrise. I took the 5:45 AM train so I’d arrive in Toronto with enough time to have a whole day there, but watching the sunrise has been an added bonus.

I had my breakfast on the train, and then read a few pages of my new book. As we’re flying to Vienna on Sunday, I picked up a little espionage thriller by Daniel Silva – "Death in Vienna" it’s called.  Silva’s a pretty descriptive writer so it’s been fun to imagine the trams, streets, alleys, bars and cafes that he’s writing about.  In a few days I can visit the church where his protagonist was restoring a painting of St. Leonard.  I can order a Pharisäer (coffee with whipped cream served with a shot of rum) at Cafe Central just like one of Silva’s characters.  I think reading this book after having walked the streets that it describes will be a totally different experience than relying only on my imagination. And then I think how many things will be different after this trip. Going somewhere forever changes your relationship with that place. What used to be a conceptualization is now a series of memories – vivid and real. I’m reminded of that scene in Good Will Hunting, the one that earned Robin Williams his best supporting actor Oscar. He’s sitting on a park bench with Matt Damon, who’s answering Williams’ questions with his usual genius-ness. Then Williams’ character explains to him the difference between knowing something and living something. “If I asked you about art, you'd probably give me the skinny on every art book ever written,” he says. “Michelangelo? You know a lot about him. Life's work, political aspirations. Him and the pope. Sexual orientation. The whole works, right? I bet you can't tell me what it smells like in the Sistine Chapel. You never actually stood there and looked up at that beautiful ceiling.” The point is, even if you’re Good Will Hunting, or even if you spend your life studying a region and its history, you don’t truly understand it until you’ve lived it.  And that’s part of what this trip is about.

That’s all for today. I’m excited to write again when I’ve seen actually seen or experienced something and somewhere new.

Cheers,

James
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Comments

zakpet
zakpet on

Wisdom and Travel
During my early travels there was a proverb that I held true and dear. I cannot remember where it comes from exactly, but it resonates with me to this day and your posts reminds me of it.

'Tell me not how many books a man has read, but how many lands he has traveled. Only then will I be able to accurately measure his wisdom.'

I believe its a Muslim proverb, but I can't be sure.

Safe travel friends!

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