Tourism by the book

Today’s post isn’t about Norway exactly. It’s about Norway and other places too.

I’ve traveled overseas several times, and I’ve always gone to Norway. Other countries I’ve visited have either been on the way or on the way back from Norway.

It’s not that there’s no other country I’d like to see. It’s just that my traveling money is limited (often nonexistent), and I have to prioritize.

But I must admit the list of countries I really want to see is fairly short.

Denmark, because it’s another ancestral country, and I haven’t been there yet.

The British Isles, because of all the books and movies and literature.

Israel, because of the Bible.

And… hmm. I wouldn’t turn down a free trip to a few other countries, but I won’t feel cheated at the end of my life if the list above covers my life’s tourism.

I’ve often wondered about my complete lack of interest in the exotic. I hear people saying, “Oh, I want to visit China and Indonesia and Brazil and all those far-off, unfamiliar places.”

And I don’t see it. Why, I wonder, am I only interested in my own culture and heritage, and nobody else’s?

The obvious answer, in our time, is that I must be a racist, but I think there’s more to it.

My interest in travel, I’ve realized, is almost entirely connected to my reading. I want to see the places where the stories happened. That’s why I couldn’t appreciate my one canoe trip to the North Woods with my brothers. There wasn’t any beloved story associated with it. (Also paddling and portaging is a lot of work,)

Visiting the American West, on the other hand, is something I want to do. Lots of stories there, historic and fictional.

My interest in seeing a place is directly proportional to the stories I’ve read that come from there. That’s why I’d like to see England, but France and Germany leave me cold (I know The Three Musketeers is French, but, as C. S. Lewis pointed out, it’s not a story in which the landscape plays much of a role).

I’m not saying this is the right way to look at travel, or that my approach is better in any way than yours.

I’m just saying that’s how it is with me.

And what am I blogging for, except to explain myself in exasperating detail?

6 thoughts on “Tourism by the book”

  1. Hmmm. I most want to visit Ireland – might as well do England and Scotland at the same time.

    After that Australia and Italy.

    The only one of those I have any ties to is Ireland. (I’m mostly German and therefore would leave you cold – but there’s a wee dram of Irish in there somewhere)

    And though it’s not a foreign country, I would also very much like to see Alaska.

    I think I’m biased against places which start with consonants.

  2. I am aware of course, that Scotland starts with a consonant. But Scotland is only an addendum to the wish to see Ireland – so my anti-consonant theory stays intact.

  3. I may be with you on this, Lars. I’ve thought of visting Strasburg b/c of Mozart and the beautiful city photos I’ve seen. I’ve thought of Germany b/c of Luther, Bach, and various artists. Paris has appeal b/c of Faulkner stayed there and many musicians and artists were inspired by it. But more than these, all of the wonderful people, stories, and music from Scotland, Ireland, and England make me want to spend a month soaking things in.

    Israel, on the other hand, scares me a bit. I want to see and buy things from Bethlehem, but I don’t want to die in it.

  4. I want to go to England and see the moors.

    But, I fear they cause insanity.

    I’m reading Wuthering Heights right now, and they all seem a wee bit daft.

    Since Emily Dickenson never saw a moor, I probably won’t either.

    I’d also like to visit Ireland and New Zealand, because I love the look of sheep on a green hillside.

    I would never want to visit Israel. Bombs scare me.

  5. Too dangerous? They’re right. Everytime I see a Norwegian holding up the line to make change or something crazy like that, I waylay him in the parking lot with my Buford stick. I won’t put up with foreigners in my way.

    It’s a good thing your relatives aren’t French. Most people ’round here shoot Frenchies on sight.

    I should say that the English get all the respect in the world, with a few exceptions. There’re always a few exceptions.

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