As I was reading the guidelines for submissions of travel articles to a magazine, it was mentioned that a place is not just an idea. Agree NOT.
Travel or a place is what someone makes of it and what someone wants out of it.
Someone who is looking to visit a place may be looking for exact information like recommendations on what to see and do, hotels and restaurants. That is of course what makes a guide to visiting a place.
But, many a time it is the ephemeral mention of an experience that hooks you and makes you want to visit there, maybe, one day in your life.
It could be —
The glare of the Bolivian salt flats, white to the eye as far as the eye can see.
The sun rising on the Ganges in Varanasi, bathing you in sunlight as your boat glides along with the world starting to stir around you.
The scent of lemons that are a size larger than your head as you behold the deep blue Mediterranean at each twist and turn of a narrow road.
Floating on water in the Dead Sea without moving a limb.
The giggle of children in Bhutan as they stop and stare at you, having never seen another person in those parts who they haven’t known all their lives.
Walking in a bazaar knowing full well that you can’t see all of it in one day, or many.
A cheetah licking your hand and you are calmer than you’ve ever been.
An island that is white and blue all over.
Walking on a glacier and hearing the gush of water beneath your feet.
Sharing a meal with a family with a small pocket but a large heart, who lives on a boat and shares their meager meal of fish that was freshly caught from a contaminated river then deep fried.
Conquering your fear, jumping into a waterfall and feeling the thrill of it.
Making your way to a village that is only reachable by water even in this day and age.
Staring with wonder at the freshest green of the forest surrounding you and the clearest of water under you where you can make out each rock on the river bed.
Arriving at 1am and discovering that your stay for the night is at the perfect location but with a broken bed.
Being surrounded by fish in the brightest hues of yellow, orange and red with coral beneath your bare feet.
Marveling at the engineering of centuries’ old structures that have stood the test of time.
Feeling the teeth of a shark inches away from your face as you shiver in frigid waters.
Seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom, for real.
Witnessing penguins come out of the sea at dusk.
Hiking for miles on an unkempt track where the views more than make up for the lack of human contact.
Feeling a warmth all over you, of the serendipity of finding a restaurant perched on a cliff, with a perfect view, warm hospitality and home cooked food. Way better than all the restaurants you tried from your guide book.
Believing, that a sunset may be a sunset but it is different from every corner of the earth.
So, Ms./Mr. Editor, travel may not be an idea but that’s really where it begins. And that’s really most what matters when it’s all said and done.