The Allure of International Travel As A Way to Increase Open-mindedness, Creativity, Ability to Negotiate, and to Build Character
There's an old aphorism: "He who doesn't travel thinks his mother's soup is the best." He thinks his own country is best at everything. He also tends to be less open-minded, less creative, a more rigid thinker, less able to negotiate, and more likely to make judgments based on theory and dogma rather than observation and experience. Indeed, a study published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology found a link between open-mindedness, creativity, ability to negotiate, and living abroad.
And yet traveling in countries where you don't know the language or the customs or the money, especially if you're not part of a tour group, can induce very real and approriate anxiety if not fear and disorientation. Suppose I or my loved ones get lost, get robbed or run out of money in a place where no one speaks our language? To overcome such fear takes bravery and to achieve a level of orientation and comfort offers a real sense of accomplishment.
At 23, I quit a good job, withdrew $3,000 from my savings account, and set out to discover the world. Why did I do it?
Rick Steves on 60 Mınutes
"I would like travelers, especially American travelers, to travel in a way that broadens their perspective, because I think Americans tend to be some of the most ethnocentric people on the planet. It's not just Americans, it's the big countries. It's the biggest countries that tend to be ethnocentric or ugly. There are ugly Russians, ugly Germans, ugly Japanese and ugly Americans. You don't find ugly Belgians or ugly Bulgarians, they're just too small to think the world is their norm." — Rick Steves
— Rick Steves (Travel as a Political Act)
— Rick Steves
Places I've been in Europe (thanks to Rick Steves for videos. In some places, I've produced my own videos or slideshows. I still have a lot of photos and slides to scan and post).
The York Minster is famous for its medieval stained glass.
Parade of Faces in the York Minister's Chapter House.
Finlandia, nationalist anthem by Jean Sebelius that truly captures the spirit and the history of Finland.
The Story of Napolean by Rick Steves.
Photo essay, including Matthew's efforts to create photos as well as French award-winner. Click.
Climbed the Rock of Gibraltar, Discovered the Gates of Hell in Cave Beneath It (VIDEO). At the southern tip of Spain, across a strait from Africa where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean is a fascinating town and tall rock filled with strange monkeys and a prehistoric cave once thought to be the entrance to hell. My sons Matthew and Alex and I visited Gibraltar at the end of December. It's where our cruise together ended. Here's our slide show.
Eat, Play, Bond: Mother and daughter traverse air and sea to a surprise destination: companionship, by Bella English in The Boston Globe
"Five hundred years before Christ in a little town on the far western border of the settled and civilized world, a strange new power was at work," begins Edith Hamilton in "The Greek Way."
That power was Reason, embodied by the ancient Athenians who gave us the idea that the rule of law was better than rule by individual. They also gave us democracy, the idea that the people should not be merely the subjects of autocrats and despots but self-determining participants in their own government. In a brief 200 years, the Athenians made huge contributions to architecture, philosophy, and the foundations of government.
It was thrilling to climb the Acropolis (Acro is Greek for highest point; polis is Greek for city), though Matthew overheard one woman complain, "We paid so much for this cruise you'd think they could provide elevators to the top." We walked around the ruins of the Parthenon, a temple to Athena, goddess of wisdom, and Nike, the goddess of victory; the Propylaea, a monumental marble gateway and the main entrance to the Acropolis; the Erechtheum, a temple famous for the perfection of its details. Our slideshow.
For a few glorious hours, my sons and I tooled around the Greek island of Mykonos, in the Aegean, on four-wheelers. Slideshow. After seeing this photo, now I know what Michael Dukakis felt like when he was photographed in a helmet in that tank.
We've visited Santorini, Rhodes, and Mykonos, and loved Santorini best of all. Above, view from our hotel room in Santorini. Click.
Athens, the Foundation of Western Civilization, and Delphi, Ancient Center of the Universe. A Photo Essay on the 10 days my wife, sons and I spent in Greece. Plus, on our Turkey Blog, you can't really understand modern Turkey without studying Greek history. Two posts:
My first impressions of Rome were not great -- really expensive, inefficient, and a surly service sector. Maybe it had to do more with me being tired than Rome itself. Here's my account of 30 hours in Rome. And here are our slideshows of evocative photos we took of
- St. Peter's Square,
- St. Peter's Basilica,
- the Vatican Museums, and
- strolling around Rome, including wine as cheap as bottled water and a tour of the famed ruins of the Colliseum
Venice in Literal and Metaphorical Winter: A City of Old People, No Cars, Every Street Like A Museum; Awed By Art of Florence
Me in Flam, Norway with fjords.
Places I've been: