Thursday, November 26

Don’t dream it’s over: Traveller readers reveal their travel dreams and inspiration

Last week in our ‘Don’t dream it’s over’ feature article, we invited you, the Traveller readers to help keep Australia’s travel dreams alive by sharing your own inspirational travel stories and images.

Below is a selection of some of the stories you shared, along with some of the best images shared to the hashtag #travelleraudream on Instagram.

Accidental experiences are the most memorable

Thank you for your cover story, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Traveller, March 28). As a veteran traveller for over 40 years, your travel writers certainly struck a chord with me. Starting my travelling adventures in my early 20s, as many Aussies do, travelling the world on my own taught me resilience, patience, understanding, appreciation of others needs and the beauty that our world has to offer.

The daily problem solving that being a traveller presents is both exhilarating and sometimes exhausting. The friendships made along the way, which often turn into lifetime buddies is a fabulous part of knowing we can connect with people from many different backgrounds and cultures across the world.

Eating dinner from a communal pot, with a poor family in the Himalayas, who were willing to share what little they had with perfect strangers; the local boys who sailed us down to the beach each day whilst playing African music on an upturned plastic bucket and two coke bottles in Lamu, Kenya; the unbelievably beautiful faces of the women in Rajasthan shrouded in bright coloured saris; the buzz on Copacabana Beach, Brazil during the Olympics and the serene spirituality of the NT outback and a guided walk around Uluru at dawn.

Those often stumbled upon experiences which turn out to be exceptional are the things I will remember when I’m much too old to still just go and see what happens when we get there! ‘The Dream’ is certainly not over and will be returned to once this crisis passes.

Julie Fitzsimmons, Avoca Beach, NSW

Respect the unexpected

“Travel leaves you speechless, then turns you into a storyteller.” I enjoy the journey (all too-easy these days by air), the discoveries (both great and small), the new and unusual experiences, the temporary change of lifestyle … then return with indelible memories and invariably thousands of digital photographs that simply must be ordered into an incredibly inexpensive photo book that will be regularly re-visited (at no additional cost.).

Many of these reflect often-unexpected ‘themes’ that emerge whilst travelling: the fascinating pavement mosaics in Freiburg in western Germany; the interesting faces from sculptures throughout Italy; the art-deco wonders of Napier; the brilliantly-different melding of colours and shapes (not to mention use of technology!) in Japan; the unbelievably contorted rocks of Nevada, Utah and Arizona. So our next, booked but currently-deferred, ‘free to travel again’ trip cannot start too soon.

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Peter Lacey, Quaama, NSW

Faces in the crowd

I have a vested interest in getting travelling back up and running as it is my career too. I’d never give up on travel because, I get to witness: The look of joy on faces as families are reunited; kids in awe of all the buttons and switches we have in the cockpit; The excitement and anticipation of friends on the trip of a lifetime; nervous flyers, taking the plunge on their first flight; retirees going on the trip they have waited all their lives for; The new tastes, sounds and smell of a new destination; the wonder of watching people in the airport and thinking where on Earth will they be in 24 hours. And I miss the ever present jet lag, helping people achieve the above but most of all, the realisation, that there is no place like home.

Brett Manders, Ivanhoe, VIC

Paper and passes

Travel puts perspective into our lives. Take the current toilet paper hoarding situation. Years ago on a local bus in Afghanistan, heading towards the Khyber Pass , we made a toilet stop. On a hillside there was a rickety wooden platform with a large central cutout where several people could simultaneously squat with their bottoms hanging over the edge. Back on the bus I looked over my shoulder and saw a massive poo pyramid with the apex pointing at the hole in the platform ,and not a single piece of toilet paper in sight – except my pieces, gently waving from the top like prayer flags in the wind.

Ralph Frank, Malvern East, VIC

Building bonds

At the age of 36 my husband and I undertook what was to become the first of many European tours. We made that first trip in 1996 with our daughters, then aged six and eight. It was transformative, for so many reasons. As a musician, the wonder of standing in Westminster Abbey, looking down at the graves of composers such as Orlando Gibbons and Henry Purcell, was mind blowing. To see the historical buildings, the landscapes, negotiate the different currencies and languages, whilst constantly crossing European borders, provided constant stimulation to all of the senses, and soon became addictive. In those pre-internet days, we managed to drive, navigate, and find accommodation and food in various foreign languages. After this we never needed to convince our daughters about the importance of learning another language. For three months the four of us were stuck together 24/7, bound together by our daily adventures and challenges. At the end we came home tightly bonded as a family. Thus began my fascination with, and addiction to travel.

Sue Lyons, Carlton North, VIC

Treasured memories

I took a photograph of Torres del Paine, as featured on the March 28 cover, from almost this same spot near the Explora Hotel at sunrise. My painting of it hangs in my living room, and I am back there every time I pass the painting. In all my travels I keep a comprehensive diary and sketch and draw at every opportunity. I have been sitting on a pavement in France, in a corner beside the Castle in Prague, on the river bank in Turku, at a mine site in the Yukon, the Harbour in Dubrovnik and many other places, sketching and drawing. People sidle up to look but are too shy to talk, others take me for a local and ask directions and locals love to talk about their hometowns. I now have a huge collection of travel treasures and can keep travelling vicariously whenever I want.

Anna Marshall, Leura, NSW

Travel dreaming, literally

I can’t wait for takeoff. I go to sleep at night thinking about when and where my wife and I will go when the world recovers and the borders open. A missing story in all this is what companies we will use again and the ones we will forevermore steer clear of. It has been a huge wakeup call for me and my holiday bank balance as I find out which companies are customer focussed and prepared to be sympathetic and those who gouge customers for all their worth. I’ve seen the best and worst of the travel industry with US hotels all offering complete refunds but local providers including a certain well known travel firm taking a cancellation fee and insurers keeping premiums despite trips being cancelled before departure. Maybe this is a story for another time but I’d like to thank Accor, Hilton and Marriott. On the other hand I won’t be using Flight Centre again, nor will I ever insure with FirstCover again.

Michael Kirby, Kellyville Ridge NSW

My response to the question as to why I will never give up on travel is many and varied but one thing I have never forgotten is the impression of arriving in a foreign country for the first time. I am now almost 72 years of age but have never forgotten arriving in Singapore at the age of 17. My most potent first impression was the smell – a heady and exotic mix of frangipani, diesel fumes and a whiff of open drains.

After all these years I think of that first trip every time I smell any of these, which is amazing because very clean Singapore is such a different city today. I use this example because it highlights the fact that nothing is ever as you imagine it however many travel guides and glossy coffee table books one reads and dreams over. My best example of this, is the first time I visited the Taj Mahal in Agra.

Despite all the pictures of this famous monument nothing prepared me for seeing it for the first time. I was overwhelmed by the size of the building and the wonderful detailing when you see it up close, and you rarely see pictures of its entire setting or of the two red sandstone mosque-like buildings that flank and complement it. On a later airline flight over India on the way to Europe the captain alerted passengers that the Taj could be seen on our right and there it was perfectly visible from 30,00 feet. It is unexpected experiences like that that will always keep me travelling.

Stephen Doyle, Hepburn Springs, VIC

Travel of the mind

I’ve found myself re-reading Somerset Maugham and Graham Greene. Similar, in age, and so different in style, both of them evoke place as few others do. Maugham’s steamy Borneo jungles, creaking ships led by fat captains, the fans whirring in tropical clubs, the fully-dressed-for-dinner Resident. Greene does heat, too. Opium infused, tortured men who have stayed too long and will stay longer. Mexico, Africa, Vietnam, all vividly themselves. And then Greene comes alive on Capri with Shirley Hazzard, no mean traveller herself. Both of them ordinary English Aussie/Americans with various degrees of command of Italian, drinking coffee or wine. Capri shining in the afternoon light, the flowers and trees alive, blooming brightly. And then I am in Vienna at the turn of the 20th century, waltzing with the Strauss family , begowned and bejewelled, dizzy with dancing. Where can’t travel take us?

Minnie Biggs, Kurrajong, NSW

The waiting game

I find one of the most fabulous parts of travel the pre-trip anticipation. I’ve never been fond of a surprise vacation as it robs you of the months of excitement and organising before you even leave for your holiday. Sometimes I do so much preparation and looking at tips and information on the place I’m about to visit that I can almost feel I’ve visited before I arrive. This skill can come in handy during this enforced home-time. Keep surfing the travel web looking for ideas for future trips and holidays. Keep your travel spark alive from the comfort of your lounge room. All the amazing, beautiful places of the world will still be there once we pop through this crazy corona bubble.

Amanda Fisher, Gleniffer, NSW

Part of something bigger

I travel domestically to break the routine of everyday life. But I travel overseas to feel like I’m part of the world.

David Beins, Cooks Hill, NSW

Memories beat photographs

Nearly 50 years ago as a new graduate, I took a plane to Rome and spent a year travelling to most European countries , staying a week or two in each destination. The next year I was in London working in a professional job. When I came home my father congratulated me on my budgeting as I had about $10 left and I had lived, enjoyed and paid for it all. On leaving Australia, I had been given a camera with a roll of film already installed. On my return the film was still in the camera and the chemist developed the 12 photos. I have never regretted the lack of photos: my time was spent making memories that are mine and no-one will have to decide when to throw out the blurry evidence.

Heather Barker, Albert Park VIC

Where’s Anne?

Forget “How are you? The usual greeting from friends for many years has been, “Where are you?”.

I ignore the money lost from cancelling travel last year due to my daughter’s cancer and this year due to Covid-19. Instead, I am thankful and grateful to have travelled for the last 40 years to most countries in the world.

Travel has and always will be an inherent part of my life- of who I am, what I do and how I live. It is my raison d’etre. Not to escape but to broaden my world of knowledge, understanding and experience. My travel is a continuum- not made up of memories but a perpetual connection to the world and the people I meet. I am still connected to the Chinese students my daughters’ befriended in Tiananmen Square four months before the ’89 massacre; to the wild beauty of the Antarctic and Socotra; to the African wildlife; to my displaced Syrian friends of Aleppo; to the magnificent Leptis Magna in Libya; to the bonhomie of Turkish and Iranian people; to…In this present situation the greeting is “How are you?”. I look forward to the return of the “Where are you?” salutation.

Anne Round, Port Macquarie, NSW

Captain’s choice

If I had known how fast he walked, I wouldn’t have done it. On a barge trip in Burgundy, we were offered a choice: to take a guided tour of Dijon, or go shopping in the market with the Captain. I chose the Captain. Everyone else chose the tour. The Captain and I regarded each other. I said to him, in French: “If you want, I can help to carry the bags.” He grinned and we sprinted off like young gazelles.

The Captain stopped for fruit, vegetables, pastries, smallgoods and meat. At each stall he greeted the proprietor, introduced myself, discussed options, placed an order and left an empty bag. The last stop was the cheese shop, a wonderland with a glass floor displaying scores of cheese blocks. I found myself deeply involved in a cheese tasting, conveying my appreciation with gestures and a limited supply of French adjectives. We retraced our steps at high speed to collect the fully-laden bags. We arrived back at the barge at the same time as the Dijon tourists. They had been observers; I was an exhausted participant. This was my best ever travel day (along with about 30 others).

Allen Shatten, Glen Waverley, VIC

Send us your travel-related tips, opinions and experiences

Letters may be edited for space, legal or other reasons. Preference will be given to letters of 50-100 words or less. Email us at travellerletters@fairfaxmedia.com.au and, importantly, include your name, address and phone number.

Keep your travel dreams alive! Share your most inspirational travel photos and stories with us on Instagram and Twitter using the hashtag #travelleraudream

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