Okay, so sometimes I guess we could add “boats” and “water buffalo” to the list.
That’s right, I said “water buffalo”. One of my early travel adventures included a ferry across the English Channel, another to cross the Adriatic (Brindisi to Corinth) a cruise ship from Athens to Cyprus to Haifa, and the picture-perfect image of our broken-down bus being towed to a garage in central Turkey by a team of water buffalo.
The water buffalo incident is a whole other story. But my point today is that it is easy to look at pretty pictures of the destination and forget that getting there, and getting around, is a huge part of the travel equation.
Walking is the best:
For our two most recent excursions abroad, Rebekah and I decided to eschew grappling with luggage and limit ourselves to carry-on sized backpacks. Not only is this a cost-saver but there’s the added bonus of walking past the luggage carousels and beyond without even slowing down. When we landed in Philadelphia coming back we had all five customs and immigration agents to choose from when we walked through.
At either end of the trip – and we are most grateful – we had good friends to take good care of us. George Dudley dropped us off at RDU then we were welcomed back with a ride from Jane and Ray Evans.
Up in the Air:
The flying part was a mixed bag. We flew American Airlines for the first time in years and the flights themselves were better than anticipated. We had no issues with our connection in Philadelphia, the onboard crews were friendly and courteous, and the flight to Prague was surprisingly comfortable.
On the other hand, the food was essentially inedible and – when our flight home was canceled after a series of delays – not only was communication non-existent but the airline’s ground personnel in Prague were no help at all. After standing in line almost five hours, waiting for assistance that never materialized, we finally made our own arrangements and (at this writing) we are still waiting for reimbursement. Customer relations here in the U.S. are receptive and all kinds of apologetic but we think they can – and should – do better.
The bonus, after being stuck at the airport from 7:30 in the morning through 5:30 in the afternoon, was one more evening in Old Town Prague.
Rebekah and I seriously enjoyed the convenience and the experience of public transportation around Dresden in Germany. Our two-week local pass included unlimited trams, buses, and even regional trains. Even the two or three car-rides we took were through a car-share app on Andrew’s phone.
Rebekah and I would take the tram, walk all day, then find another stop for the ride home.
Lest I neglect to mention it, walking is the ultimate personal transportation mode. Rebekah (and her hot-pink Pumas) found she was able to walk a good five or six miles a day. But then most European cities were designed to be pedestrian-friendly. Not only the health benefits but the environmental repercussions are huge.
One day, waiting in a crowd of people at a tram stop, Andrew said. “We may not be talking to the other passengers but this helps foster a sense of community, of shared experience.”
He is right. We live in a world where isolation, and hanging out in on-line echo-chambers, is breaking down the experience of community at a fundamental level.
Getting along isn’t about agreeing with other people it is about awareness, about listening, about understanding, about respecting the differences not separating ourselves from the possibility of knowing.
So today’s photos – the last installment of our epic 2019 adventure – are all transportation-related.
However you get about, even if it’s in a car all by yourself, don’t forget to take the time to talk to some other people along the way. And listen to their stories….
Our stories are what make us human. Listening to one another shows we are brothers and sisters on the same journey.
Peace – in every way – DEREK
Derek has published seven books in the past decade (you can find them at https://www.amazon.com/Derek-Maul/e/B001JS9WC4), and there’s always something new in the works.
Before becoming a full-time writer, Derek taught public school in Florida for eighteen years, including cutting-edge work with autistic children. He holds bachelor’s degrees in psychology and education from Stetson University and the University of West Florida.
Derek is active in teaching at his church: adult Sunday school, and a men’s Bible study/spiritual formation group. He enjoys the outdoors, traveling, photography, reading, cooking, playing guitar, and golf.