How Much Have We Sacrificed In Making Travel Easier?
The train marched onward in arduous monotony as I sat wedged between my companion and a horde of strangers on the way from Prague to Berlin. The ride was long; to say the very least, relatively, of course, and I couldn't help but watch from the sliver of window, the Czech country side roll by in all its verdant beauty. Scattered in clusters amongst the hills like stars against the night sky, the towns and villages appeared vibrant yet silent as the life contained within each one went on unperturbed by my fleeting intrusion.
This captivated me; I found myself imagining all that went on in the quiet hamlets, all the people and stories and culture that would remain a mystery to me as I travelled from city to city. Prague, the city, is but a small fraction of what else the Czech people have to offer, and I would be none the wise, for there I was, on the train, travelling
so to speak: what can I say? This is how it's done now, it's affordable, it's easy, to go from one city, one country, to the next.
While it's obvious to see the benefits of this new, modern approach to travel, I must question how much we are missing on the experience. In its idealistic essence, travel is meant to experience new cultures, new people, to create new stories for one self. But as the technology has progressed in the means for travelling, we have compromised much of what made travel meaningful in the past. It is no longer of the travel itself, but rather the destination to which we are travelling.
Consider the travel writings of Marco Polo. His travels and their extensive length were handled with complete thoroughness. Though they proved long and unimaginably strenuous, not to mention dangerous, the experience becomes heightened in the process. Polo acquaints himself with vastly different people, from diverse cultural backgrounds, and learns their history, their stories, who these foreigners are in all regards across the land. Rather than witnessing just the microcosm of an individual country from its major cities, he could grasp the macrocosm that envelopes the entire body of people. He faced imminent danger, but nevertheless this yielded a great part of his tale; it made the trip worthwhile. In conjunction with this mindset, I tend to wonder how much we have compromised by making things easier for ourselves in travelling; how many people will we never meet?- how many stories are we missing out on?- how many lessons will go unlearned?