Monday, July 04, 2005
There and back - Part one.
| posted by Simon |
10:52 pm |
Sat in the back of a taxi bound for Manchester airport terminal two, on a hot and sunny Sunday afternoon, my mind turned to the question of travel and tourism. The two words conjure up two very different images in my mind, and during the course of my holiday the images were given substance by the view from my balcony and the words in the book it took me nearly a whole week to read. This holiday was all about being there, getting there was a means to an end. You can travel across time zones and be on another continent in less than three hours, and if all you want from a holiday is to relax on a beach then why complicate things by taking your time getting there ?
Throughout my holiday I read just one book, “The old Patagonian express” by Paul Theroux. His trip from Boston to Patagonia by train was long, slow and hard work and that is exactly the description I would give to the book. He makes the point that it’s the getting there that matters, and once you have arrived, your journey is over. He argues that the gradual change from the familiar to the foreign eases the transition. My experience, of boarding an extremely small space with a couple of hundred others, travelling at over five hundred miles per hour high enough to clear the summit of Everest by a margin of about seven thousand feet, was a foreign way to travel, what better way to get to a foreign place ?
My musings in the back of the cab were punctuated by the usual pre holiday thoughts….. “Where did I put the passports” and “I wonder if that timer I put on the fish tank light will work”. As the surliest taxi driver since Surly McSurle, the surliest taxi driver in surly town, whisked us towards terminal two my thoughts turned to our destination. I hadn’t been there for over ten years. Last time we immersed ourselves in the culture, wandering around the souks and medinas, chatting with the locals and eating in the little back street cafes. This time our destination was a more European resort, none of the cultural distractions and all of the beautiful weather and clear blue Mediterranean Sea.
My holiday starts the moment the luggage disappears down the chute, and my boarding card is safely tucked inside my passport. I really enjoy flying, sitting in the seat after the plane has taxied to the end of the runway and the captain puts his foot down, or whatever pilots do to make the plane hurtle down the runway, feeling the force push me back in my seat. It’s an exhilarating start to a journey. We were on our way to North Africa, Habib Bourguiba international airport, Monastir.