On the second week of vacances, I had the week off and was stoked. One, because I was sort of at the breaking point of hating my job because I spent over 60 hours with people under 8 years old and two, because my sister and brother-in-law were finally traveling to Europe. Now, I realize I am completely biased because I now live in Europe and traveling has become more of an experience than a checklist. However, when you only have a week and you are paying thousands of dollars to come visit, there is really not any other way to feel fulfilled after traveling unless you try to see it all. And with packing multiple cities in just a few days, the trip becomes more of a to-do list than a vacation. I completely understand this and in no way and I discrediting this way of travel. My sister is a very prepared and organized person. To be honest, if it wasnt for her I would have never even known certain things existed in Belgium. She had plotted and planned an incredible trip and I am still thankful that due to her thorough nature I was able to see things I would have just disregarded.
However, it made me realize the difference between visiting somewhere and living somewhere. When you visit somewhere that is otherwise difficult to travel to there is a huge sense of urgency and need to accomplish everything. Since living in Europe and having easier access to everything, I have realized my traveling style (which to be honest has always been pretty laid back) has become even more relaxed. And I really feel like I have actually seen more.
As I said earlier, my sister had planned the entire trip and did an incredible job. However, we all felt rushed due to the limited of time we had and the amount of things planned to see. Paris ended up being their favorite spot, which I think had to do with the fact they had a local (somewhat) guiding them and my sister, as she puts it, “took off the boss hat.” We saw so much but it was really at a good speed. They were able to take in the food, the culture, and even the people. I think that is what travel is all about.
So as I realize it is nearly impossible to travel as casually as I gallivant around Paris on the weekends, I urge people to try and take time to sit and soak it all in when visiting somewhere new. In August, the dreaded month of tourists in Paris, I see piles of exhausted tourists laying outside the popular spots. Now, I understand the amount of things to see and do in Paris, but c’mon people, passed out from exhaustion does not sound like the way I want to experience a city. So, step back, grab a baguette and a bottle of wine and sit down. Experiencing a place is not the same as seeing a place.