Subject: Re: Reasons why we travel

you definitely posed the mother of all questions.One that this group never came across, at least not expressed in such a straightforward style.One that inevitably makes one think.

And this is the outcome of my thoughts.

1. I travel to escape the routine of daily life. I live in an area ( north of Milan, Italy), where people live with money on top of their thoughts, and are all the time checking their watches, because 24 hours seem not just enough, to do all the things they're asked to do. As you may guess I don't recognize myself in this philosophy of life, but I can't , or I don't dare to, change my life with a 180 conversion, so travelling is my disintoxication therapy. One could say it is also my drug, since I can't have enough of it. But since my bank account and my time off work are unfortunately limited, the total time I spend on vacation is usually just one month in a year.( Poor guy!)

2. I travel because vacation to me is the contrary of what vacation is to most people in Italy, that is beach life and /or discotheque ( modern version: flying to Yucatan or Red Sea or Kenia or Santo Domingo to experience beach life and/or discotheque in a recreated italian village where you eat reassuring, although horrible, spaghetti or pizza or cotolette, and listen to the same music and the same stupid entertainers you could find in any italian seaside village). let me dismiss this misanthropist mask and be less snobbish...

3. I travel because travelling puts me in touch with different ways of living, thinking, dressing, eating, speaking, playing or hearing music, you name it. I like diversity. I like the way men build their cities around them, perceive the landscape around them and place their homes in that landscape, appreciate and preserve natural resources ( these aspects, that you could call architecture, have been so often bypassed or ignored in contemporary Italy). I like the way different cultures express themselves through art, in its many forms, and preserve their cultural heritage in museums and the like. I like the diversity of food, and although eating out is now difficult for me due to medical reasons, it used to be one of the great pleasures of travelling in the past years. And of course I like the majesty of nature, so rich in diversity around the globe.

4. I travel because I'm especially fond of languages.That's also why I only seldom travel domestically. Again, diversity; the diversity of human languages is mesmerizing to me. I always try to learn some bits of local language before visiting a country. This is much appreciated by locals and makes you feel more immersed in the reality of the places you're visiting. There's one language that I love above all, and it's english ( LOL, you native speakers...). Among a lot of other reasons, how could most people communicate across the world without english ?

5. I travel because travelling is an activity that starts months, years or decades before the actual beginning of the trip to that specific destination ( it may even remain confined to armchair travelling), and it never ends, because when you recall a memorable travel experience you're still enjoying it with each of your five senses.

6. And I travel because, although apparently in contradiction with point 5, travel itself is half the fun of travelling. I mean being moved from one point to another, be it by bus, train, plane, or boat, and watching the people and the landscape around you. And I mostly mean driving. Driving on backroads ( see Blue Highwaysby W.L.Heat-Moon), getting lost despite any map you may have taken with you and discovering places that aren't even mentioned in any guidebook.

Since I don't care writing a decalogue, I finish here and thank you for making me think about it.

I wish you all the best for your research work, and to you and all the Ziners, may 2004 be the best year of your life.

Leonardo Besana in Brianza, Italy