TRAVEL BLOG. Side by side with food and fashion, mommy and parenting, health, beauty and fitness, TRAVEL is arguably the first for the Blog spot checkered flag to wave for. It’s the distraction, the constant change and move, the wanderlust. For some, it’s part of or comes with the job. For a sad few, it’s “anywhere but here.” A honeymoon, a family holiday, a chance to get away with friends and for most, another tick on their bucket list.
I grew up with a father who never, ever asked me how my grades were in school, but instead asked, always with great interest, what I thought of the cities, the towns, the castles, museums, the people we encountered, the exotic foods we tasted each time we travelled. He also had a friend who was older than he and so had just started travelling when he retired, who sent him postcards. “Wish you were here.” His friend would always write in the back of a beautiful postcard. Nothing else. He just wished that my father was there with him while he was on his trip. My father would show me these postcards, and talk a bit about the place, if we had never been there, and showed me how the stamps added to enjoying a card from another country. I was hooked. While at that young age, I had no one to send me a postcard from anywhere, and so I looked forward to my father’s friend’s “Wish you were here”s.
I longed for someone to write to me and wish I was there, too, and to tell me their first hand experience of life in another country. And because my father got me a subscription to the Barbie Magazine from the US, I did receive regular mail – and always looked at the PenPal page, where I finally picked out a pal from Peru, I still remember her name, Verna. I was in fourth grade, in the early 70s, when we started to exchange letters, and it was Verna from whom I first learned of Machu Pichu — now a favourite destination.
Today, I continue my love for the written travel exchange. I tell my friends to send me a postcard because it is so exciting to see another country from other people’s eyes. I want to know where they have been, what the weather was like when they were there. I get to “visit” splendid museums, unbelievable public libraries, and grand churches I’ve never been to and enjoy the “revisit,” if I’ve been there as well through their postcards. I have reached rocky shorelines to enjoy beautiful lighthouses. I have “tasted” a sticky rice cake here, local cheeses from a tiny town, and the sinful richness of paper thin slices of pork. I have “heard” the clicking of the castanettes and the stomping of the feet when I received a postcard from Spain. I continue to learn bits of history of Unesco heritage sites. And I get emotional over historical towns and even over endangered animals. Oh the 4 to 5, maybe six liner stories I read when I receive a postcard.
Yes, my father’s friend’s postcards started it all. “Wish you were here’” he would always write. This time, when I receive the postcards from friends and family, I am always there, with them.