Home > Photography > TRAVEL: A Pictorial Introspection, Part 1

I recently returned from a 10-day cruise through Croatian ports, including Slovenia and Montenegro as well as the 2 Italian ports of Naples and Messina, Sicily. But, first, it was 2 nights in the uniquely picturesque city of Venice*.

A week later, the bags are unpacked and put away — and I’m having an introspective “moment” about my travel life. Yes, again.

I wrote about the interesting backstory of my travel experiences last year and I don’t want to be too repetitive, but it is a new year and I just completed another trip so I’m in my usual reflective mood.

Whether by design or chance, or a combination thereof, I’ve been fortunate to have traveled a fair amount. After that first trip to Miami Beach when I was 17, I made countless trips to Puerto Rico and then internationally to about 30 countries. That doesn’t count those where I just passed through or spent a very brief time like Paraguay or Myanmar, for example.

The tally to the best of my memory is 13 European countries, 3 Asian, 12 South-of-the-Border (Caribbean, South America, Mexico) and Canada. Many of these were visited multiple times (3x or more) — and countries like Italy and Spain more than that! As I’ve said before on these pages, who can go to Rome and not want to go back to see Tuscany, Venice or Sorrento? And so it is with many places I’ve visited. I’m not in the million mile club but suffice it to say that there have been many more years I took several trips than years I didn’t fly at all.

However …

With the exception of a few misguided months spent in Puerto Rico during my youthful travel exploration, I don’t think I’ve ever been away from home for more than 2 weeks at a time. That is a frontier yet to be crossed.

Maybe that accounts for the many multiple visits to my favorite places — that thirst to experience more, know more, meet more people, eat and drink up more of what I enjoy most. (More on that later.)

Over the years, I traveled alone, with family, with boyfriends, or with just one girlfriend (or two). It wasn’t until 2001 that I took my first group trip and then shortly afterwards became a group leader for a travel company which afforded me the opportunity to take several groups of women (strangers) from across the country to places like Cuba, Ireland, Italy, Mexico, etc. More recently, in 2006, I formed The Traveling Sisterhood, a great group of gal pals, with whom I’ve been traveling for the past 11 years. The number varies from trip-to-trip. In 2007 we were 16 in Greece; on this most recent trip, we were 6.

So, you’d think I was a pro by now, right? But no. I’m always learning … always reassessing for the next trip.

Cruising: Pros and Cons

I’ve cruised about a half-dozen or more times but, just like land/air travel, I believe every trip is different. With a cruise it depends on the ship, itinerary, length of time, who you’re traveling with and, let’s be truthful, your own state-of-mind and body.

I’m still sorting out this recent trip. The yin-yang of cruising is you get to “see” a lot but it soon fades from memory. I spent 2 nights in Venice and 10 on the cruise, but what occupies my mind’s eye is the time spent in Venice.

However, I have nothing but good marks for the Celebrity Constellation, their staff, services and entertainment. I never felt I was one of two-thousand. It was a very well-run, service-oriented and enjoyable cruise. No complaints in any category.

I like: unpacking once; the opportunity to see multiple places without the wear and tear of additional travel; having onboard activities and various venues to explore; easily accessible choices for meals; excellent post-dinner theater entertainment; a little casino play; a day or two at sea to relax; dressing for dinner; the beverage package!

I don’t like: Global Warming. This is not cruise-specific but it just seems to factor into every trip I make these days. No matter what the forecast or ‘average temperatures’, it’s always too damn hot for the excessive walking involved in touring.

In addition, I don’t like sketchy connectivity on days at sea (no matter what costly wifi plan you take). Also on the “con” list,  excursions with long bus rides or panorama tours (we didn’t pick any that put us on a bus for an hour+). On the flip side, short excursions/walking tours in port or exploring on your own doesn’t give you a true feel for a location.

My Standout Excursion was in Kotor, Montenegro where we had a short walking tour around the town and market and then visited Vlasta Mandic, a noted chef and her husband, in their 150-year old family home where we were treated to their homemade grappa-like aperitif, wines and a fabulous spread of food.

But it wasn’t about the food … it was the experience. Being welcomed into someone’s home with warmth and generosity, the “breaking bread” ritual, the opportunity to learn about another culture through an exchange of conversation and stories. The sharing. In retrospect, it was my standout ‘moment’, one that I know I will carry forward.

I realize for me travel is about ‘experiences’ and that is why I typically favor travel to culture-driven locations. More about that in the next post.

*This was my third trip to Venice.

 

 

 

10 Comments, RSS

  • Patricia Durr

    says on:
    June 25, 2017 at 6:06 pm

    A lovely post Joan. Traveling is truly an adventure into the culture and lives of people and places around the world. It always has it ups and downs and you learn along the way. But in the end, you have had some wonderful experiences and lovely images. Keep the adventures going!

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      June 25, 2017 at 6:58 pm

      Thanks Patricia. As you can well appreciate, the journey continues well beyond the trip with the storytelling and photo sharing phases we both enjoy so much.

  • Victoria of Flavors of the Sun

    says on:
    June 25, 2017 at 7:12 pm

    Lovely post, Joan. I can appreciate your travel philosophy and share it as well. I like traveling with you–and look forward to more of it.

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      June 25, 2017 at 10:02 pm

      … and I enjoy following your Moroccan jaunts!

  • Liz

    says on:
    June 26, 2017 at 9:57 am

    Great piece and I look forward to more.

  • Norma

    says on:
    June 26, 2017 at 10:15 am

    I enjoy all your post, this was special. The pictures and memories are beautiful. You made me thirsty for MAVI!
    Norma recently posted..PLATANOS EN TENTACION – SWEET PLANTAINS IN CARAMEL SAUCEMy Profile

  • aurora Gil

    says on:
    June 26, 2017 at 3:29 pm

    Beautifully written. You paint a picture for all to enjoy. Looking forward to the picture show. Tia

  • BEKKY BROWN

    says on:
    June 26, 2017 at 3:43 pm

    YOU ARE QUITE THE TRAVELER,JOAN.I DO FEEL AS THOUGH I’M THERE WITH YOU ON YOUR JAUNTS. YOUR STORY TELLING IS SUPERB ON EVERY SINGLE DETAIL OF THE FOOD THAT GOES INTO YOUR MOUTH AND THE PICTURES THAT FOLLOW.I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING WHAT YOUR NEXT ADVENTURE WILL BE.I DREAM OF THE JOURNEY AND SAVOR THE FOOD. ONE THING FOR SURE I CAN EAT ALL I WANT WITH YOUR BLOGS AND NOT GAIN A POUND.

  • Peter

    says on:
    August 12, 2017 at 2:34 pm

    Joan….Don’t stop…I read and learn! You are a brilliant wirter and explorer who looks at all, not just the food! Travel is just not as comfortable as it was, it is hard to think of no travel experiences in life……Please rethink!!!!
    Best to you, Peter
    P.S. I took my little greyhound Beet and went to Royan, France (north of Bordeaux, on Atlantic) staying in one location for 2 months this spring….Thinking this is the only way to travel, less flying, paying for business and no stress……otherwise i am too old!!!LOL!

    • Joan Nova

      says on:
      August 12, 2017 at 3:50 pm

      So nice to hear from you! No, I’m not giving up … just continually reassessing!

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