April 14, 2014

Being a stranger in a strange place is a kind of liberation

“The freedom of being a stranger in a strange place, knowing no one, needing to know no one, with no obligations, elicits deep feelings of liberation. The farther from the beaten path I go, the quicker my attachment to any idea of how I should be treated is discarded — I’m grateful merely that my needs are met. Without an agenda, or company to distract me, I invariably feel a certain hopelessness that can appear contrary to my aimlessness. Perhaps it’s just the simple joy of being alive.”
–Andrew McCarthy, The Longest Way Home (2012)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

April 7, 2014

The travel writer translates one culture for another

“So it’s plain to see what responsibility lies with our work, reportage. Plying our trade, we are not just men or women of writing pursuits, but also some kind of missionaries, translators and messengers. We do not translate from one text into another, but from one culture into another in order to make them mutually better understood and thereby closer.”
–Ryszard Kapuscinski, “Herodotus and the Art of Noticing,” Lettre Ulysses Award Keynote Speech, October 4, 2003

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

March 31, 2014

You have to get off the paved road to see where you are

“We all know that it’s possible to drive from here to California and stay at more or less the same motel the entire way, in a landscape where certain elements never change. This might have been an interesting experience thirty years ago when it was still new. It might be an interesting experience is you were V.S Naipaul just arrived here from England. But basically it’s a challenge to one’s powers of describing the humdrum. On the Great Plains — and I’m sure in the rest of America as well — you have to get off the paved road if you want to see where you are.”
Ian Frazier, in They Went: The Art and Craft of Travel Writing (1991)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

March 24, 2014

Travel is an implicit search for difference

“We board our jumbo jets precisely to find a world where there are no jumbo jets. We pass through security to get to a land where there is no more need to do so. We look for Elysium in distant lands where there are no hamburger stands and satellite dishes and telephones — and yet all the while men have come before us and built and installed precisely those things that we were hoping to get away from, and have made where we are going just a little more like where we have just come from. So in eternally frustrated hope that somewhere, some God-given somewhere, there is a world without mini-bars and IDD and Visa and, most of all, CNN, we move onward, ever onward, like caribou, like lemmings.”
–Simon Winchester, intro to Martin Parr’s Small World (1995)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

March 17, 2014

When you travel, a new silence goes with you

“When you travel,
A new silence
Goes with you,
And if you listen,
You will hear
What your heart would
Love to say.”
–John O’Donohue, “For the Traveler” (2008)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

March 10, 2014

Gideon Lewis-Kraus on the idea of pilgrimage as pretext

“Part of what interested me so much about pilgrimage as a concept—what made me think it might work as a structure to hang a bunch of other stuff (questions of restlessness and purpose and forgiveness) on—was that, the more I read and talked and thought about it, the more capacious the idea seemed: Pretty much anything can be described as a pilgrimage. People talk about pilgrimages to Graceland or Cooperstown, or to see Saturn Devouring His Children at the Prado, or just to Flushing to get good soup dumplings, so one of the challenges I faced was how to limit the discussion. There’s a whole bit in the book where I talk about why, for example, I chose not to convert to Islam to go on the hajj. But what it ultimately came down to, for me, was the idea of pilgrimage as pretext: It’s an arduous (which, obviously, means very different things to different people, but the implication is at least some minimal experience of inconvenience or austerity) trip where the eventual arrival is generally besides the point, at least in retrospect.”
–Gideon Lewis-Kraus, interviewed in World Hum, April 25, 2012

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

March 3, 2014

Travel does not always have to be deep or difficult

“Tourists, I could now better understand, were not some lesser species. Like all travelers, they had earned their right to travel as they wished, and if that meant organized tours and checklist sightseeing, who was I to tell them they were wrong? Travel did not always have to be hard or deep. It could even be easy and fun, and even I could do it, guiltlessly.”
–Matt Gross, The Turk Who Loved Apples (2013)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

February 24, 2014

When experience is all you hope to achieve, the world is yours

“Many of the greatest travel books of the late 20th century were about epic journeys, often by young men, conveying the raw intoxication of travel during a moment in life when time is endless, and deadlines and commitments are non-existent; when experience is all you hope to achieve and when the world is laid out before you like a map.”
–William Dalrymple, “Home truths on abroad,” The Guardian, September 18, 2009

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

February 17, 2014

Travel writing is often an extension of the travel industry

“Unlike the oil industry, which is scrutinized at all levels, travel writing has become an extension of the industry. With few exceptions, travel writing and travel sections share the singular goal of helping consumers spend their money pursuing the dream of a perfect trip. They seldom write critical reviews; only articles about what to do and what to buy and how to experience a destination. This “feel-good” approach is rare even in lifestyle journalism, which is where to find the travel sections. Other lifestyle or back-of-the-book journalists thrive on critical reviews, explaining how and why they judge movies as great or miserable; whether the food at a restaurant is mediocre or exquisite; and describing music concerts as electric or boring. Imagine if movie reviewers only discussed their favorite films, if restaurant critics only wrote about their preferred haunts and music critics never wrote a scathing review of a badly performed opera. That is what travel writing has become.”
–Elizabeth Becker, Overbooked: The Exploding Business of Travel and Tourism (2013)

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day

February 10, 2014

True travel requires patience

“Impatient people…find that travel is slow and full of nuisance and delay — that there’s no instant gratification. Or that there’s only one bus or train a week and you might get stuck. They haven’t got the patience for it but that’s what travel teaches you. Temperamentally, people are less suited to travel than ever because the Internet is so quick in offering answers. But they’re not always the right answers.”
–Paul Theroux, Gadling interview, May 7th, 2013

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Category: Travel Quote of the Day
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