In three months I will visit Europe for the first time. It will be a three week whiz around Europe. I wish it could be longer.
In anticipation I have been using the web to look at the places I will be staying, the routes I will travel, and the places of interest I will visit.
Google Maps and Google Earth are fantastic tools for this task. How far is the Eiffel Tower from my hotel in Paris? Google Maps will tell me in a flash. What does the scenery look like from The Rialto Bridge in Venice? Google Earth offers great photos uploaded by other keen visitors.
I can plot my trip on Google Earth then fly around the route to gain a spatial awareness that will aid my navigation skills when I’m actually there in this unfamiliar territory.
The itinerary of my trip becomes enriched by this online research using these clever tools.
Others jokingly comment to me that I won’t need to go now as I’ve seen it all online. Well that’s where I clearly appreciate the difference between the online environment and the REAL world.
I long to submerge my physical being into other cultures. I crave hearing foreign languages as incomprehensible song. I want to be dwarfed inside historic cathedrals where light streams in from above illuminating art by the masters. I want to meander along cobblestone alleyways too narrow for cars. I want to be tempted by the smells of different foods that I am yet to taste. I want to get a real sense of my own insignificance in world history by standing in places where men and women stood, fought, died and left their marks. I want to soak in the richness of the colours and textures of beautiful European landscapes searching for the inspiration felt by the great artists. I long to gaze about in open-mouthed wonder.
I can’t do that sitting at my pc.
Meanwhile in anticipation, I can dream, imagine, and visualise the trip online, just to whet my appetite for the REAL thing.