Why You Remember the Quirky Parts of Travelling

Better than any swim at the luxury resort

You went to London to see Big Ben.  You went to Cairo to see the sphinx.  You went to New York City to pose patriotically in front of the Statue of Liberty.  So why is it that when you look back at your trips and travels those aren’t the things you remember?   Why do the stories you bring home revolve around the funny looking waiter and the maniac taxi driver rather than the great monuments you went to see?

the friend you remember better than the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel

The sights and streets listed in tourist brochures are often what initially spark your interest in place.  You just have to see the Pantheon, the Parthenon, the pyramids and St. Peter’s (how’s that for alliteration?  I know you’re impressed).  But, funnily, those are the same things you snap your camera at, buy miniature replicas of and then mention only briefly when you talk about your trip.

Maybe it’s because as impressive as those tourist sites are, they belong to everyone.  We all know about the Eiffel Tower and can imagine a romantic sunset from the top. It’s in every accordion, every skinny moustache and every loaf of French bread.  It’s part of the cliché of Paris.   It’s everyone’s and no one’s.

But, on the other hand, the striped scooter that almost hit you is uniquely yours.  It’s a part of Paris that no one else has had.  It reminds you that you’ve actually been there, rather than just watched a black and white movie about France.

The scruffy stray dog you fed in Venice and the off-key singer you heard in Sydney gave you the chance to interact with a new place.  For a moment you became part of a new city, country, continent instead of just a tourist with a big camera.  Looking back you remember these rare moments of inserting yourself into a foreign life and upgrading from a passive observer.

The funny dog you met in Belize

While anyone can snoot and snob their way through a description of the Winter Palace, only you can tell the story of ordering a sandwich from the guy with the parrot on his shoulder who owned the little restaurant around the corner from where you saw the woman in the red striped coat…

Stories of your quirky travel moments transport you back to the time and place they happened.   You may vaguely remember how beautiful St. Mark’s Square was in the morning, but you’ll suddenly remember the taste of plantains and the heat of the sun when you talk about the bird that pooped on you in Costa Rica.  That messy little bird created a moment that you don’t find in a tour book.  It reminds you that your time away from home was not generic.

What are some of the funny things you remember from your travels?

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2 responses to “Why You Remember the Quirky Parts of Travelling”

  1. Matt says :

    Finally someone’s explained why I have more pics of my firends in stupid hats than I do of all the things youre supposed to take pics of when you travel. haa

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