Still round the corner, there may wait, a new road or a secret gate.J. R. R. Tolkein
I am often asked where we get our inspiration from when deciding where to travel next. What makes us choose one destination over another, when there are so many places we could go?
The answer is mixed – friends of course (especially my wonderful group of Virtual Tourist friends); blogs and other online articles; magazines (the excellent Wanderlust in particular); travel shows like Destinations (an annual event in London); TV documentaries; and our own past experiences.
Going back in time, my desire to travel was inspired I think by reading childhood encyclopaedias, by stories read to us at school and by early adventures abroad on school trips to France and Canada.
Here for Patti’s Lens Artists Challenge this week is a selection of just a few of the adventures we’ve had, and what inspired us to go.
When I first read Albert’s account of his own visit we weren’t really in a position to travel there, as with elderly and infirm parents I couldn’t risk being so cut off from home. But when we watched Palin’s series a couple of years later we remembered how intrigued we had been and decided that now was the time to go!
We went to New Mexico after I saw photos of the White Sands National Monument on a friend’s Virtual Tourist page and started to investigate the region. I realised that the state was packed with interesting sights and beautiful landscapes, and so a road trip was born.
I saw Botswana as the ultimate wildlife holiday destination, based in part on articles I’d read in Wanderlust and online. And of course, anyone who has been glued to David Attenborough’s documentaries over the years knows that Africa in general is one of the places to go for wildlife!
Our trip to Rapa Nui, aka Easter Island, was perhaps more surprisingly also inspired by David Attenborough. He made a fascinating film about the Bird Man culture there, The Lost Gods of Easter Island. I had always wanted to see the huge moai, but learning about the Bird Man was the final push I needed to propose that we visit the island.
We went to Cuba because people were saying that we should go before Fidel Castro died, as after that everything would change there. We visited in 2005; Castro died six years later in 2011. Ten years on, as far as I can tell, very little has changed!
I went to Gubbio at the invitation of a Virtual Tourist friend, Ingrid, who had discovered the town while studying Italian there. While there I attended the wonderful Palio della Balestra, the festival of the crossbow fighters. I also fell in love with this beautiful hill-top town, and with the landscapes of Marche and Umbria. And I have been back two more times since!
This was another Virtual Tourist discovery, as I joined a group of friends travelling on there after our big meeting in Krakow in 2010. We travelled by train, an adventure in itself, and explored the city together with a Ukrainian member Victor who has since become a firm friend. Similarly, Virtual Tourist meetings have inspired me to visit many places that hadn’t been on my radar, such as Sibiu in Romania and Riga in Latvia: places I loved and may never have discovered had it not been for those meetings.
We went to Iceland in 2012 to see the Northern Lights, inspired by a friend who told us that it was a great Aurora season. We didn’t see the lights on that occasion (I’m sure they were up there but it was always cloudy at night). But I fell in love with the Icelandic landscape and was very happy to return a few years later for a Virtual Tourist meeting there.
China and Japan
Maybe our strongest inspiration for travelling however, is simply to go where we have not been before, and the more different the better. It was this sort of thinking that took us to Japan, to North Korea, to Antarctica (in my featured photo) and, many years ago, to China.
Travel inspiration is always just around the corner, and as soon as we are able to travel more freely again, I am sure something will inspire us to pack our bags and head for somewhere new.