Slow Travel in a Short Time...

Sunday, 17 May 2015

...and is that even possible?

The right idea; soaking up golden hour in Hong Kong

As a 'twenty-eight-days traveller', I've always associated slow travel with something only long term globetrotters can truly indulge in. My holidays are precious and short - and my desire to see the world voracious. So my holiday style generally involves cramming as much as possible into a short time.

Seriously; I speak as someone who came back from a weekend in Paris last year with a stress fracture from walking too hard, too far.

But when I look back on my trips, some of the most special (if not photo worthy) moments have been those where I slowed the pace and got involved - even if just for a while. 

That last dinner in Istanbul, lingering over glasses of tea as night-time Sultanahmet emerged around us. Talking European politics and culture with our Turkish guest house owner, discovering the passions and frustrations of himself and his friends. 

Or how at the end of a long Interrail trip my (now) husband and I spent a penniless week in Paris; street roaming, people watching and sketching in our suitably romantic attic room. 

And most recently, losing full days in Spain to Rioja and tapas - catching sight of the time and realising night had slipped unnoticed into morning. Swapping language and life lessons with our server as the bar closed up around us.

One of the most incredible places I've visited has to be India - in a whirlwind trip I took at the end of 2013. The most memorable moments were, again, those unplanned encounters you get when you're not just tearing through somewhere; from meeting local children to mutual-photograph taking with Indian families as we enjoyed the Taj Mahal together.

But I nurse a sense of having only passed through the country - of seeing the sights and watching the people but never really getting under its skin. Cramming five of Northern India's key locations into ten days might have made for a wonderful introduction to the country, but immersion it was not.

It's a feeling I've not really had before, and a determined not to have again. I'm all about making the most of every scrap of my holiday, but I believe it's possible to really experience a place even with limited time. Using public transport, staying in apartments, engaging residents in conversation, trying out local persuits...

Next Saturday I'll be touching down in Bologna, where we've resisted the temptation to travel on through the region and have have based ourselves in a beautiful AirBnB apartment for the duration of our stay. With 'slow travel' firmly in mind, I'm excited to make this Northern Italian city home for the week...

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