THE VERY FINE ART OF TRAVEL-PAINTING YOUR OWN MASTERPIECE

ImageTravel. What is it to you? A means to an end? Maybe a necessary headache as part of a job or lifestyle? Maybe it’s just a lifestyle choice, in and of itself.

The point is that travel can be many things to many different people. For most, it will be thrilling, rewarding and life affirming. For a few, it might sometimes feel like having your teeth pulled out with pliers, while being subjected to a Justin Bieber mega mix, playing on a loop. Ouch.

For me, travel can be defined as the pursuit of elegance, sometimes raised to the level of an art form. And travel really is an art; sometimes it can be as disjointed and unsettling as a Picasso; as cake rich as a Rubens, or as deep and finely nuanced as a Rembrandt. We all fill in our own canvas. We colour it and add detail according to our moods, whims and ways. But we all create our own, unique pastiche, and that is part of what defines us as people. How we interact with what is beyond the horizon, outside the box, is a big pointer to just how we evolve- or not- as fully rounded human beings.

In the Fifties, Cunard used to claim that ‘getting there is half the fun’. I’d say it’s often a lot more than half. It’s not so much where you go, as how you arrive there.

Consider this; at New York’s JFK airport, a plane takes off or lands every minute or so of the day. Except for the pilot and the traffic controller, nobody bats an eyelid at the sight. But when the QE2 used to make her show stopping entries into New York harbour, heads turned and jaws dropped by the dozens as she made her stately, theatrical procession up to her west side pier. There, she would lie in state, until the time came for her to head off again. Either way, it was a thrilling experience, with the greatest city in the world forming a matchless backdrop to the world’s most famous and magnificent globe trotter. They made for quite a combination.

Similarly, planes buzz in and out of Venice’s Marco Polo airport like droves of demented wasps, to scant acknowledgement. But when the Orient Express rolls across the causeway from Mestre, on the last mile or so into Santa Lucia, the people stop, stare, and stare some more.  And, more to the point, they wish they were on that train. The damned thing is like a movie star on wheels. Quite literally, thanks to the work of Agatha Christie.

And the experience of sailing into Manhattan- or, indeed, Venice- is by far one of the most precious returns on the price of any ticket. These are life altering memories that stay with you long after the actual journey has ended. When all is said and done, you cannot hang a price tag on real style.

Enough from me. What do YOU think?

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