Hi from Rick: Getting Stuck — Turns Into Luck
|Stuck in Venice is like "snowed in at the cabin beside a warm fire."|
Dear Back Door Traveler,
Like thousands of others, I was stuck in a European city this past week. Happily, though, it was Venice — which is like the art/cuisine/history equivalent of being snowed in at the cabin beside a warm fire.
The city was filled with two kinds of travelers: those who weren't planning to fly anywhere anyway, and those who were unexpectedly stuck. The "strandeds" fell into two camps: those anxious and upset; and those like me, resigned to the fact that there was nothing they could do about it...and thankful that they were forced to be in such a great place.
Imagine the clumsy flip-flopping going on. All the "strandeds" without hotel reservations jockeyed into position to grab rooms reserved by people who were not showing up. I enjoyed reminding my fellow "strandeds" that if they made the most of the opportunity to make their predicament a blessing, in five years they'd remember the eruption as the reason they had such a great experience in Venice.
The luxury of extra time: two full days went by without my laying eyes on St. Mark's Square. It's the back lanes where this enchanting city is its most enchanting.
My work highlight in Venice was road-testing two of my audio tours. I got out my iPhone and let my digital voice guide me down the Grand Canal. Sitting on the front seat of the vaporetto, enjoying the narration of the palaces floating by, was a delight. (It reminded me of how I used to commandeer the front view seats of the same slow boat down the Grand Canal back in the 1970s as a young tour guide and bark out a cruder version of that same narration to my groups.) Then I jumped off the boat to try out my audio tour of the Frari Church — one of those rare places where one can see great art hanging in situ exactly where, centuries ago, those Venetian artistic superstars designed it to be enjoyed. And here I was, enjoying it for the first time without needing to read from a guidebook.
The harmony of learning as it travels simultaneously through our eyes and ears sinks in more deeply than the disconnectedness of our eyes jumping back and forth from book to masterpiece, again and again.
Learning this way in situ is also part of the beauty of touring with a skilled tour guide. The "wow" moments created are no accident. In this month's Tour News we'll introduce you to a passionate guide from Portugal, who believes in touring with all of one's senses fully engaged. And what better place to immerse yourself in vivid sights, sounds, smells, tastes and textures than Europe's Iberian corner? You'll also get a video taste of Toledo, and hear stories from resourceful travelers who tried to make the most of last week's events.
It's been a long time since I first wrote, "Travel is intensified living — maximum thrills per minute and one of the last great sources of legal adventure."
It's never been more true. Thanks for sharing the adventure with us.