Hot! You Are Here

Sometimes the best part about travel is finding exactly what you were looking for.

I had gone to Ireland for the culture, but also wanted to hike through those iconic rolling hills and emerald green pastures. I was quick to experience the country’s changing weather – warm and sunny one day, rainy and gray the next. So when I woke up on the Sheep’s Head Peninsula to blue, cloudless skies, I skipped a shower for a morning walk.

Ireland is not a morning country. Even the sheep were still asleep as I walked down the path to the bay. As the sun rose, the dew from the rain the day before glistened and the land sparkled. I rounded the corner toward the pier and was stopped in my tracks by a scene from a postcard. A single red boat rested in the clear, still water reflecting the green hill on the opposite side. On that hill cows quietly ate breakfast. I was in Ireland.

This has happened to me before. From standing above the forum in Rome, to riding bicycles though the streets of Amsterdam, to watching a couple run across a cobblestone street in Paris to kiss, there are certain almost stereotypical moments in travel that tell you: You Are Here.

Yes, it’s true. In this blog and others, most will tell you the best part of a trip is the unexpected. That by going off the guidebook and talking to the locals, you experience the true culture of a place.

But there is nothing wrong with being a tourist.

It’s almost impossible to plan a trip without having expectations or dreams of what you will experience. After all, every trip starts with an inspiration – a reason to go. This can be as simple as “I want to see the Mona Lisa,” or “I really like Belgium beer and chocolate.”

So you plan the trip, read the guidebooks, look at pictures and maybe even watch a movie. You get an idea in your head about what it will be like, but maybe caution yourself against disappointment. So when that movie moment comes, there is something magical about discovering that the city, country or culture you dreamed about really does exist.

There is always more to learn behind the scenes, but no one should hesitate or feel less of a traveler for chasing a ideal.

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the GFA