I am a big believer in employing all five senses whenever I travel. Letís be honest. If all we wanted to do was see a place and not experience it, then we wouldnít shell out a few hundred dollars for a plane ticket, another few hundred for accommodations, and a few hundred still for food and drinks while we are there.
I think anyone that does not experience their vacation destination but merely sees it, is robbing themselves blind. If all you wanted to do was see a place, Google street view is free, and visible from the comfort of your own home.
I love to travel, and if youíre on Luxury Link Iíd wager you love to travel too. It is the one thing that brings us together, even though we might differ on everything else under the sun.
Ever since I could remember Iíve loved to go places, but it was only recently that I learned to experience a place and not just see it.
My other passion in life is photography, and anyone who is an avid photographer knows itís easy to live through the lens, and see your vacation in frames, rather than really experience the culture surrounding you.
It was only after several years of marriage and a dozen or so vacations that I realized I was missing out on some crucial ingredient of my travel. Yes, Iíd come home with stunning pictures of waterfalls, flora, fauna, landscapes, and portraits, but then someone who knew where Iíd been on vacation would ask, Ďdid you try feijoada or acaraje while you were in Brazil?í and Iíd have to shake my head and say that I had not.
Of course, there would always be a rebuke afterwards such as, Ďhow can you go to Brazil and not try feijoada?í but I never really understood the importance of immersing oneself in the culture of a place until I spent a week in Istanbul and decided to eat only what locals ate, and drink what locals drank. That weeklong experience changed my entire outlook on vacations, and what I do when Iím abroad.
The first thing I do is divide my time between seeing a vacation destination, and experiencing a destination. I still love photography and thatís not going to change, so I take three days out of any trip and see it through the frame of my Nikon. The rest of the time however, I spend immersing myself in the culture, and truly experiencing the place, its traditions, and its people.
For some reason I find it sad when I see a group of Americans all huddled together at any given not-to-be-named international burger chain, in a country half a world away.
You can eat the burger and the fries and the chicken strips when youíre in America. Now youíre on vacation, in an exotic place, with exotic foods and spices, and it would be akin to sin not to taste the local cuisine.
Take Turkey for instance. Thirteen hundred years of gastronomy and tradition canít be wrong. How could I not try the halva, or the simit, or lokma or the baklava? Trust me vanilla soft serve with caramel syrupís got nothing on a fresh piece of pistachio baklava.
We live in a world of wonder, and weíre only robbing ourselves if we donít use all our senses when we get the opportunity to visit a new culture.
Touch, taste, smell, hear, and of course see the heart and soul of a place. Donít be afraid to experiment, because experimenting usually leads to great experiences, and great experiences is why we all shell out our hard earned clams, and take a few days respite from the humdrum of everyday life.
So if you ever see a guy rubbing a Greek column at the Acropolis, or just standing in a spice market flaring his nostrils taking it all in, itís probably me, and youíre welcome to come say hi.