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  1. #1 Sojournin' Sundays 
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    Cloudy and rainy here in southern New England, although it appears it may clear a bit before the arrival of Ike, who is traveling his way up for a much-weakened visit. My girlfriend's traveling as well, visiting her parents in Bucharest to celebrate her mother's birthday. I had hoped to go with her, but my schedule last week in particular simply didn't permit it.

    When we thought I might go, I was talking her into taking me up to the province of Bucovina in Moldavia (Romania), a place I've always wanted to see since reading Robert Kaplan's wonderful description of it in his Eastward to Tartary: Travels in the Balkans, the Middle East, and the Caucasus. Her response was a bit of wonder at why I would want to visit such a "remote" place, but I've always wanted to see the painted monastaries of Bucovina...


    Travel has historically been considered a required educational experience in the live of a well-rounded adult. For example, the US is the only, of all the English language speaking countries, wherein the concept of a "gap year" is not extensively practiced. At one time, it was de rigeur for wealthy young English men (and women) to take the "Grand Tour" of the continent:

    Young English elites of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries often spent two to four years traveling around Europe in an effort to broaden their horizons and learn about language, architecture, geography, and culture in an experience known as the Grand Tour. The Grand Tour began in the sixteenth century and gained popularity during the seventeenth century.

    More recently, the sixties saw an explosion of young people who traveled Europe with backpacks on "$5 Dollars a Day." One of the guys who works the bar at my local, just graduated from college, spent a month in Thailand and is saving for a six month excursion through Europe and parts of the FSU. So, the tradition does continue.

    There has been much discussion recently regarding the value of travel, particularly as it relates to Sarah Palin. There are opposing views on this, unfortunately many (although not all) seemto be colored by partisanship, rather than an objective assessment. So, for today, in the Lounge, I'd like to pose the following question to be discussed without reference to politics, but rather, perhaps, with reference to your own experience and opinions...

    TOTD: What is your opinion of the value of travel in shaping a person's perspective, judgement, and world view. Is it still essential, was it ever, or have the virtual offerings of today's world superceded the requirement? Again, please do not bring politics into the discussion.


    My opinion, based on my own experience of traveling relatively little as a young man, but extensively in middle age, is that travel is extremely beneficial in providing insights into the human condition. I'll cite a few examples. Observing Bosnian Croats, Serbs, and Bosniaks interact in Sarajevo provides a perspective on the issues among those groups, the intense hatreds, the shared bond of a "Yugoslavia," that cannot be garnered from reading 1000 Balkan Ghosts. Walking the streets of Riyadh and observing Muslims in their daily routines similarly a basis for judgement that one cannot gain by reading the Arab News every day. Sitting in an out-of-the-way French bistro, filled with Gallois smoke, chatting with the locals, provides one with more insight into the French (and to a great extent, European) view of America that listening to American pundits translate those insights through their own filters.

    Of course, we all travel our own paths and YMMV...

    Last edited by Cold Warrior; 09-14-2008 at 09:26 AM.
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  2. #2  
    Senior Member DarkScribe's Avatar
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    Sunny, hot and humid Sunday, time to go mow the jungle before football kicks off at 1pm. We'll get to see the Fins play Arizona (sorry, Jen, but the Cards are going DOWN!) at 4 and then the Steelers play the Browns tonight at 8. Are ya ready for some FOOTBALL!!! :D

    TOTD: Having never traveled abroad, I feel like I cannot answer this TOTD honestly, but just by my own opinion...however, Shannon has and shared her experiences with me. We hope to someday travel overseas and visit other places. It simply isn't the same thing as watching the Travel Channel, ya know (although I do like watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, mostly because he has a great way of expressing things).

    For young people, I think having the chance to visit other countries would be an incredible experience and most likely would give them a different perspective on the culture of said country.
    "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." H.P. Lovecraft in Supernatural Horror in Literature
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  3. #3  
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    TOTD: Foreign travel has been very formative for me; I first did it when I was young, but old enough to get something out of it. I had my own equivalent of the old fashioned "grand tour" when I was fourteen. My mother took me through Europe, from England to Italy, for three months. I had my first beer in London, my first opera and my first perfume in Paris, a glass-buying trip to Murano in Italy, and so much else; I'm glad I kept a diary!
    "Today, [the American voter] chooses his rulers as he buys bootleg whiskey, never knowing precisely what he is getting, only certain that it is not what it pretends to be." - H.L. Mencken
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    Senior Member DarkScribe's Avatar
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    By the way, CW, have you heard of a novel called The Historian, by Elizabeth Kostova? It is largely set in East Europe and Romania, Turkey, etc, and deals with a young woman who finds some papers that hint at the possibility that vampires exist and that Vlad Dracula was REALLY one of those blood-drinkers. It is filled with dense historical detail (the author spent a lot of time in the places she is writing about), customs, traditions, and mythological details surrounding the legends of Dracula. This is NOT an Anne Rice wannabe but an intelligently written historical-suspense novel giving a unique twist on the most famous of vampires.

    Check it out!

    "The oldest and strongest emotion of mankind is fear, and the oldest and strongest kind of fear is fear of the unknown." H.P. Lovecraft in Supernatural Horror in Literature
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  5. #5  
    Senior Betwixt Member Bubba Dawg's Avatar
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    “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness.” - Mark Twain

    “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” - St. Augustine

    True words CW.

    One's intellect and opinions are shaped by experience, and first-hand experience trumps a vicarious one through television or a written medium.

    I also value interaction with people from other cultures and with differing viewpoints. The key thing such exposure gives is a sense of perspective. That is not to say that you will necessarily agree with the beliefs of people you meet, but at least there can be some understanding of their point of view and some comprehension of their interests.
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    Senior Betwixt Member Bubba Dawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DarkScribe View Post
    Sunny, hot and humid Sunday, time to go mow the jungle before football kicks off at 1pm. We'll get to see the Fins play Arizona (sorry, Jen, but the Cards are going DOWN!) at 4 and then the Steelers play the Browns tonight at 8. Are ya ready for some FOOTBALL!!! :D

    TOTD: Having never traveled abroad, I feel like I cannot answer this TOTD honestly, but just by my own opinion...however, Shannon has and shared her experiences with me. We hope to someday travel overseas and visit other places. It simply isn't the same thing as watching the Travel Channel, ya know (although I do like watching Anthony Bourdain's No Reservations, mostly because he has a great way of expressing things).

    For young people, I think having the chance to visit other countries would be an incredible experience and most likely would give them a different perspective on the culture of said country.
    Anthony Bourdain Rulz. He eats, he drinks, he shoots guns, he travels. Bourdain is The Bomb.

    Oh and, I went to Wisconsin once.
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  7. #7  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba Dawg View Post
    Anthony Bourdain Rulz. He eats, he drinks, he shoots guns, he travels. Bourdain is The Bomb.

    Oh and, I went to Wisconsin once.
    Hey! I spent 14 weeks in Milwaukee last winter. It literally snowed every week. I have to say, the natives were fairly inscrutable. :D
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  8. #8  
    Resident Unliked Meanie Shannon's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bubba Dawg View Post
    Oh and, I went to Wisconsin once.
    I'm so sorry.
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  9. #9  
    Senior Betwixt Member Bubba Dawg's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cold Warrior View Post
    Hey! I spent 14 weeks in Milwaukee last winter. It literally snowed every week. I have to say, the natives were fairly inscrutable. :D

    How many did you try to scrute..:eek::D
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  10. #10  
    Resident Unliked Meanie Shannon's Avatar
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    I'm cleaning today since I was in Tampa yesterday. I feel so out of sync.


    TOTD: I love to travel and experience different cultures. I do not think it is essential though. The internet and television have made other cultures and perspectives much more accessible to the masses than was possible in the past.
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