When you are as passionate about travel as you and I, each trip will give you something to love. But there are instances where one single moment on a journey becomes ingrained in your memory; indeed it seems to define the entire trip. Here are ten great travel moments that come to mind for me.
Arriving in Toronto
One of my enduring memories is when I landed at Toronto Airport at the old terminal 1. It no longer exist but those of you who have travelled as long as I have will remember the dark space out front created by the low concrete roof. Here I was, a young man from Holland following his dreams, moving from a small town to a huge city, from a rather homogeneous culture to multi-cultural Canada. I will never forget the taxi drivers wearing turbans, so unusual for someone from Holland. The next thing I knew we were careening down a multi-lane highway bathed in orange lights, skyscrapers on either side. It wasn't love at first sight but it didn't take long before I didn't want to live anywhere else.
A few years after landing in Canada I became a Canadian citizen and to celebrate I booked on a trip on the Akademik Ioffe to the Canadian Arctic. One early morning, after crossing Baffin Bay from Greenland, I was alone on deck just as we entered Canadian territorial waters off the northern trip of Baffin Island. Snowy mountains lined the horizon just as our Canadian flag was hoisted as a sign of respect for our beautiful country. It was then that I truly felt I had come home.
My most recent trip, to South Georgia, was partially inspired by the exploits of Sir Ernest "The Boss" Shackleton, one of the greatest explorers and leaders who ever lived. Stepping on shore at the whaling station of Grytviken and paying my respects at his grave site was another highlight for me. I wasn't prepared for the flood or emotions that came over me.
Driving in to Rum
One of my favourite movies is Lawrence of Arabia (they don't make movies like that anymore, do they?). I love the heroism portrayed but above all I love the incredible footage of the overpowering landscapes at Wadi Rum in Jordan. When I travelled there I rented a car from Amman and drove down the King's highway. As we drove into the desert towards Rum I remember seeing the red rocks and cliffs of Wadi Rum appearing ahead of me - I recognized the iconic landscape from the movie.
Music always plays a great role in my travels. If I can catch a local concert somewhere, count me in. Three of the best were of a women's choir at a little country church in Myvatn, Iceland and of a Swedish choir at a church in Tallinn, Estonia. The latter was led by a saxophonist (Anders Paulsson) who had played during the award ceremony of the Nobel Peace price to Nelson Mandela. Mr. Paulsson needed to warm up prior to the concert and was casually strolling the aisles while playing the theme of the movie The Mission. I was in heaven!
Snow-muffled footsteps in Venice
Those of you whom have booked arrangements in Venice through me will know that my favourite concert was that of Interpreti Veneziani, held in the Baroque church of San Vidal. Lonely Planet wrote: ""You’ll never listen to The Four Seasons again without hearing summer storms erupting over the lagoon, or snow-muffled footsteps hurrying over footbridges in winter’s-night intrigues." Listen to a fragment of it here, then make your way to Italy to hear it live!
Many decades ago (I like to say when I was young and good looking), I had a summer job on an organic farm in Sweden. The mistress of the house sent me to town to pick up candles and some drinks. I should have known it was for my birthday but it didn't click until friends started showing up unannounced for a party. At the end of the celebrations we said our goodbyes and as we waved them goodbye something caught my eye. The Northern Lights made their appearance and they were magical.
Pelicans over Nakuru
You ask me if I remember Africa? I don’t just remember it – I relive it every day. When I close my eyes I can smell the herbs that turn the Bushveld into a fragrant bouquet. I can hear the thunder of hoofs, the roar of a lion, the laughs of children. When I look back on my Africa travel adventures, I remember hundreds of pelicans flying overhead in a graceful show of serenity – I just stood there and gazed at the spectacle of wings between flying and gliding, the birds spread out in giant V-formations, rising and falling in the early-morning air.
Driving the Great Rift Valley
Also in Africa was my first and second views of the Great Rift Valley. In Kenya the highway curved down in to the yellow plains stretching out towards the Mara. Years later I visited again, this time in Ethiopia, where the mountains lining the valley rise up high into the sky. Both sights so different yet each of them so beautiful.
Entering the Ghats
If you have had my plan your India trip you will know I recommend you visit Varanasi. In my opinion it is the quintessential Indian experience. In this sacred city located on the Ganges, steps (ghats) lead down to the water. On the steps you can find people meditate, do yoga, pray, cremate their dead, brush their teeth or play a grand piano. It is a real kaleidoscope of spiritual life and an early morning boat tour along the ghats a great experience. I remember entering the ghats at 5 n the morning, the music was blaring and people were out in force. They were happy to have made it here....
I want to hear from you!
What are your life-long travel memories? Which moments stand out for you? Email me or comment below.