I was an ordinary person living an ordinary life until some 30 years ago, when I first visited Europe. A crammed bullet-tour itinerary shoehorned five countries into two weeks––and left me bewildered and exhausted.
The trip carried a heavy dose of that now infamous culture shock. It required adjusting to a different language (in those days few Europeans spoke English), different currency (each country had its own money), different customs, and different foods––every other day! It was too much too fast, with no time to sample, let alone absorb each country’s unique delights.
When a second trip presented itself, I bravely returned. Then again, and again. Each time, as I experienced the differentness’s of travel, I relaxed a little more.
Soon I realized I’d been hopelessly infected by the travel “bug”. From then on, I felt deprived when I wasn’t planning yet another trip and seized any excuse to pack my bags. I found that just being inside an airport buoyed my spirit with wonder and anticipation.
Travel is the stimulus that feeds my love of learning. Anyone who travels and doesn’t evolve must be dead! How much you progress depends, of course, on your own attitude. But when all of your senses are awakened and alert, all input channels are open and flowing with new sights, sounds, tastes, smells, sensations, and experiences, you’ll find that travel is a complete, multi-sensory learning adventure.
I fear I sometimes bore people with my constant prattling about this all-consuming passion. Sorry. Can’t help it. For me travel is a sustaining life force as vital as air and water. No wonder, then, that I’ve found outlets for such intense fervor.
In the early days, I shot photos with film and printed on paper. Now they represent a mere trifling of images compared with the digital output of more recent tours. Each trip now produces thousands of images and feeds my immense and growing photo library. What to do with this avalanche? I’ve used images to design travelogs to be shared with retirees, civic organizations, and schools.
Today my lively presentations allow people in senior centers, retirement communities, assisted living facilities, and nursing homes to experience “trips” to Europe. In addition to learning about other countries and cultures, folks can witness the beauty of places they can no longer visit firsthand. Such armchair outings provide virtual journeys and perhaps some fulfillment of distant dreams far away from discomfort and loneliness.
These are not books as you’ve known them. Interactive e-books include hundreds of full-page, full-color photographs, video clips, animated slideshows, a built-in dictionary for instant access to unfamiliar word meaning, an e-mail link to share a favorite passage with a friend, text highlighting and the option to create notes for future reference, and the ability to search the book and the internet for new topics of interest. Each book becomes your own travel experience.
Whether discussing milk production with a cud chewing cow, listening to a melodic Alphorn concert in a natural, open-air amphitheater, watching the mountaintop launch of a paraglider, or basking in the Alpen glow at the end of a day, I record everyday experiences and then share with…you!
Seeing just a few images from my Swiss travels, for example, you can imagine why I’m drawn to the mountains again and again. Each trip brings new awareness and understanding of this small, landlocked country. And deepens my respect for the hearty people who tend the land with reverence, care, and respect. Who could tire of the majestic vistas that frame every view every day? And this is only Switzerland!
Perhaps you’ll be inspired to venture out and see it yourself.
Let me introduce you to another country and encourage you to explore, plan, and experience your own travel dream. You will be the richer for it.
Travel . . . . . . . learn . . . . . . . connect . . . . . . . grow . . . . . . . understand . . . . . . . enjoy!