Thursday, January 19, 2012

Selecting travel destinations (Part one)

Not long ago I read an article on the Internet written by travel marketers on the destination selection process of travelers. It said: “…How, and when, do leisure travelers decide where to go? What factors influence the decision to visit a particular destination? … for travelers everywhere, the destination decision itself is complicated and highly personal.” This made me think about my travel decisions. When my parents were still with us a great majority of my travels were to visit them in Paris. (Click on pictures to enlarge them.)

A Parisian Street with Sacré-Coeur by Luigi Loir, French 1845-1916

Starting in 1963 until 1982 I went to Paris every two years or 9 times. Then after my widowed mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease I traveled to Paris twice a year from 1982 to 1999 or 34 times. From 1999 until she passed away in 2002 I went to visit her 3 times a year or 12 times, and since then I have gone back about 4 times, so let’s see, that is a total of about 59 trips to Paris. That may sound like a lot of trips to France but many people visit their parents at least once a year or more – it just happens that mine lived in Paris. These were not “tourist” trips to visit Paris – I did not take many pictures, just family pictures. I started taking pictures of Paris in the last 5 years or so – usually in the same areas – where I used to live and go to school.

Place St Michel et Notre-Dame by Edouard-Léon Cortès, French 1882-1969

Many of my other trips were for the usual reasons – interest in the cities or countries and airline sales. So far I have traveled to 56 countries and islands - and some of them several times. However, I did plan trips because of unusual reasons. I’ll recount some of them below with the reason for the trip or the chain of events.


When I was a child I started a stamp collection. Some of my favorite stamps were from the islands of St Pierre et Miquelon. I was totally intrigued by what they represented and dreamed of one day going there.

These islands are an integral part of France. They are France’s oldest remaining North American territory. For fun I would sometime ask American friends where in North America was French land. They never guessed. St Pierre & Miquelon is south of Newfoundland – you need a passport to go there and they use Euros. I finally traveled there in 2008, about 58 years after first hoping to go! I have written several posts on this blog about my trip, starting with the post here. This trip was a result of my early interest in collecting postage stamps and made me enormously happy.

Top right: View of the Ile aux Marins (Sailor’s Island) (a small inhabited island across from St Pierre) – near port of St Pierre Island - lower picture – my husband and I on a Zodiac Raft going to l’Anglade Island near St Pierre.


On my posts I have shown many of my postcards. I started collecting postcards when I was a wee child (after my grand dad gave me his collection when I was 5 or 6 years old.) Once when I was about 11 years old or so I wrote my name at the end of a chain letter which was supposed to bring me many postcards. One girl, from Martinique, sent me a postcard of the style of clothes worn in Martinique. She became my pen pal - I’ll have a post on this soon. Because of this postcard (which I misplaced along the way) Martinique was another French island I dreamed to visit. Finally this last December we were able to visit Martinique. Below is a postcard I purchased showing the pretty Martiniquaises.

An unexpected trip to Canada because of a Bus trip

When I came to the US I had a “Greyhound” bus pass which I had purchased in Paris – 3 months of unlimited bus travel for $99. I visited about 23 states. On a Friday on a bus journey in Michigan, a middle-age French lady sat in the seat next to me. We started talking. She told me she was traveling to a small city near Toronto, Ontario Canada to see her daughter who had a farm there. When I exclaimed that I would love to visit Canada, she asked me to come with her. I did not know her but she seemed very nice, so impulsively I said "OK" and went with her. I had a great week-end at the farm with her daughter’s family. On Saturday we drove to Toronto. I don’t recall exactly everything I saw but I distinctly remember watching a wedding at what they called “Casa Loma” castle. I was taking slides photos them with my Voigtländer film camera. Below is an vintage postcard of the castle.

Article in National Geographic magazine

We had a subscription to National Geographic for several years. In one issue, the January 1983 issue I believe, was an article about Borobudur, the 9th century Mahayana Buddhist monument in Central Java, Indonesia. It was a fascinating article – it explained how this huge monument lay hidden for centuries under volcanic ash and jungle growth and had been rescued. It was restored and placed on the UNESCO World Heritage List. I entered this monument on my destination list. Then in 1991 because of a “sale “promotion from Singapore Airlines I was able to go to Indonesia from Paris and visit this beautiful site (I’ll write a post on this in the future.) This was an extraordinary trip and I am pleased I read that issue of the magazine.

Picture taken at Borobudur with my Canon 35 mm film camera

Art Exhibit

Somewhere in 1997 I read an article about Claude Monet, the famous French impressionist painter. It explained how, after a trip to the French Riviera in 1884, followed by trips to Antibes, France in 1888 then Venice in 1908, Monet had tried to capture the transitory effects of light in that area. His idea was to paint the same landscape at various time of the day. For example he had painted Cap d’Antibes at least 4 times in the same location, in the morning, noon, evening and so forth.

Cap d’Antibes by Claude Monet, French 1840-1926

These paintings had been sold to museums and private collectors around the word but never exhibited together until…..Joachim Pissarro (great-grandson of Camille Pissarro, a contemporary of Monet,) then curator of the Kimbell Art Museum in Fort Worth, Texas, assembled 70 works from Monet’s trip in the Mediterranean. This way one could see the paintings side by side for the first time. For example there were four paintings of the same olive trees at different time of the day – they had never been exhibited together. This was in June 1997 – it was our 30th wedding anniversary month – a perfect reason to celebrate in Fort Worth and visit the museum. We flew to Fort Worth – we spent a whole day studying Monet’s light effects. I still remember this “once in a lifetime” exhibit with fondness.

Book purchased at the exhibit below picture of my husband standing next to a Monet museum sign

A Song

The radio stations we listened to when I was a teenager in France played a variety of music, unlike in the US where a radio station only plays rock, or country music, or classical. The stations played everything, every style from many countries. One of my favorite genre of music was the Portuguese “fado” (from the Latin fatum which means fate or destiny.) I had bought some 45 rpm records of the Portuguese fado singer Amalia Rodrigues.

I could listen to Amalia for hours. One of my favorite songs was “Lisboa” (Lisbon.) So it was that in 1955 Lisbon became another city that I dreamed of visiting. It would take until 2004 for me to go there. In early 2004 I had already booked a trip to France with Air France when they sent me an advertisement for cheap flights to Lisbon from Paris – finally I could see Lisbon. My husband and I had a great time in Lisbon. We visited the “Fado Museum,” listened to much fado music and brought back several CDs of fado songs and instrumental music. Below are photos (scanned from my 35 mm Olympus camera) showing a couple of rooms inside the Lisbon Fado Museum.

Below is a clip showing the major sights of Lisbon, Portugal with the voice of Amalia Rodrigues in the background.

Next week I‘ll list several more destinations that were on my travel list because of unusual reasons.

More to come…..


Note: Top photo is a view of the Ile des Marins (Sailor’s Island) - an abandoned settlement close to St Pierre Island.


Jeanne said...

Very great article , and has inspired me to really consider what has made me travel to the destinations that i have been to. Lucky you going so many times to Paris. I have been there twice and absolutely love the city. Have a wonderful weekend. Oh, and I also collect postcards and have been putting them in my journals for years. Have some really great ones.

Arti said...

This is an amazing post! I'm impressed by all the places you've been, and for all the reasons... including on the spur of the moment upon the invitation of a stranger! But I'm glad you did go to visit Canada. And, the Casa Loma is a unique landmark in urban Toronto. A French held territory south of Newfoundland? This is the first time I've heard of it, as a Canadian! Also, I just love the paintings you've posted on Parisian streets. Just beautiful. You're one amazing traveller, and collector of memories, Vagabonde!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

I think it is so fabulous that you have traveled so much throughout your life---and especially going to places that you have dreamed of going--It's just fantastic! And that you continue to do so today and I know you will in the future---AMAZING, my dear--Truly Amazing! And to have a 'partner-in-crime' who loves to travel as much as you do....BRAVA & BRAVO!

Pondside said...

I think that the reasons for your travel choices are nearly as interesting as the places themselves. You've had so many wonderful experiences because of what must be a very curious and open nature and an interest in other people. I jumps off the page.

Marja said...

Love the voice of Amalia. Full of passion. And Portugal is a great place to go to. What an interesting stories and what a pleasure to go to so many exciting places. I went 3 times to Paris and each time it was a great experience.
Oh and Monet It is one of my favourite painters. I love the expressionists. That's one thing I would love to come back for to paris is the Orsay museum
The ladies from Martinique look gorgeous You are going to have a great time.

CrazyCris said...

Fabulous tales! I've done a lot of travelling as well, but I can't really think of a destination I went to out of curiosity or a desire to visit that specific spot... so far all my travelling has either been chosen by my parents (so their curiosity), or once I was independent it was visiting family and friends (which I have spread out around the world, so plenty of places to go to!) or for work (science is great! I got field trips and conferences!) :o)

St Pierre et Miquelon a aussi captivé mon imagination... je vais aller jetter un coup d'oeil sur ce que tu as écrit!

Jenny Woolf said...

This is really interesting. I don't choose my travel destinations for nearly such interesting reasons. I am curious though - can you say whether you found the places you visited lived up to your expectations? I usually find myself taken by surprise. I have often visited places I thought I'd like, only to find them entirely different, and on the other hand have found the most unlikely places enchant me.

Anyway I am glad I found your blog and I will follow it if Blogger will allow me to do so (it has been a bit funny about following lately).

Rosaria Williams said...

You do know that we devour your stories! How did you manage to get away so often?

DJan said...

In reading this and learning of the myriad reasons for your travels, I realize how appropriate the title of your blog is. You are truly a vagabond of our little gem of a planet. I enjoy so much every one of your posts. This one filled in for me some of the reasons you travel. It is definitely part of who you are and apparently you were born that way! :-)

Mary said...

Great post....................your sense of adventure shines through here and I enjoyed reading of the wonderful places you've seen. I've visited Paris many times, still my favorite city of course.

Familiar with St. Pierre and Miquelon from the wonderful movie with Juliette Binoche, "The Widow of St. Pierre".

Love Fado and that song by Amalia is so rich and passionate - if her albums available here, I may have to look for one.

Looking forward to more travel stories - you make me want to start packing............and actually I will be in a couple of weeks!!!!!!!

Hugs - Mary

this is Belgium said...

What a fun posting ! I think your reasons are fantastic ! wish I had been able to go to the places my stamps and postcards collection made me dream of !!
Instead I went very very often to Paris and to Italy... both of which I still love and like to go to as often as I possibly can !!

Pat said...

How very brave and adventurous of you to go off with stranger who you met on a bus. You are obviously a good judge of character.
I love the pictures but especially the old paintings of Paris which holds so many memories - both happy and sad.
Music too. You spoil us:)

Kathy, the Single-minded Offshoot said...

Your post is a day brightener here in Wisconsin where it will snow until evening. Your travels brought back one of my own special memories - going to a restaurant/nightclub? recommended by a native who knew we wanted to hear good Fado. We ate our dinner there, daring to eat squid and drinking a huge bottle of Portuguese wine. Each singer bowing after their set and saying "Obrigado, obrigado" is as clear in my memory as it can be after all that wine. Thank you for the delightful post and the Fado part particularly.

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Pat said...

Love this blog. Thanks for making me think about why I have traveled and what is next. I read two books about Eleanor Roosevelt during the past year and so much want to visit Hyde Park and the Hudson River and West Point.... it's now on my list! Thanks.

FilipBlog said...

Nice article, the Casa Loma brings back memories.


Kay Dennison said...

I envy you your adventures!!! The photos are awesome and, since Monet is one of my favorite painters, I especially loved reading about his visits to Antibes.

Elaine said...

It's interesting to hear why people travel to the places they do. I think that sometimes the spur of the moment trips are the most fun, but anticipating and researching a destination adds to the enjoyment, and ensures that you don't miss something exciting in that area. I always enjoy reading about your travels.

The Broad said...

I wish I could have you in charge of my travel plans! Fascinating post from beginning to end... as someone else said Vagabonde is the perfect moniker for you. Thank you so much for sharing your adventures -- your descriptions make it almost seem as if we are there with you!

Dutchbaby said...

I do believe that stamps are the most unusual reason I ever heard for choosing a travel destination. Seeing these stamps, I can see how they captured your imagination.

I have traveled to see the real locations of paintings. I went to Arles because I wanted to see the yellow house that Van Gogh painted. Unfortunately, the house was bombed in WWII. I loved seeing the water lily pond at Giverny. I imagined Monet painting it over and over again.

Wonderful post, as usual.

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde.
On dit que les voyages forment la jeunesse.
Aporès avoir obtenu la traduc en français j'ai voulu agrandir la peinture d'Edouard Cortes. C'est un très beau tableau, ; j'aime cette atmosphère du entre chien et loup avec les lumières.
Le problème est que l'anglais est revenu et que je n'ai pas pu retrouver le français.
Jolie la carte des Pretty Martiniquaises.
Ta croisière s'est mieux passée que celle au large de la Toscane.
Notre prochain voyage sera en Martinique à l'automne 2013 -.
En ce moment, pour être au top quand ils vont arriver, je prépare le séjour de Julia et Larry.
Hier j'ai posté sur notre amitié, entre Julia et moi.

claude said...

J'ai oublié de te dire, j'adore la voix d'Amalia Rodrigues.

Perpetua said...

Another wonderful post, Vagabonde - pictures, words and music. I love the almost serendipitous nature of your reasons for travelling. Happy chances indeed.

Wanda..... said...

You travel more than anyone I know. Loved your spur of the moment decision to accompany the lady to Canada.

Jeanie said...

This is SUCH a fun post! I often wonder why people go where they do, too -- and this sure tells me lots about you! I've chosen some of those reasons to travel but most of mine is either to see family, friends or for work. Of course, when you travel for work, you can stay in the hotel or take an extra day or two and see where you really are, which I generally try to do!

As you know, I collect postcards, too, but I'm later to the addiction! My father has a stamp collection -- I've looked at it -- they're beautiful, and consider selling it but have never taken that final bit of separation. That said, I seem to buy stamps wherever I go, although usually mine end up on collage!

Have a lovely weekend, and I hope you're feeling well by now!

Al said...

You've done a lot of traveling. I visited Paris once, when I was a child, and I'd love to go back now as a tourist. The photos and postcards are beautiful.

Darlene said...

You are not only a world traveler, but an enthusiastic one. You obviously really get the most from each trip and I am so happy you share your adventures with we, your followers.

Deborah said...

Quelle idée superbe!! I really enjoyed reading about these trips in light of what prompted you to go to these places - a truly original post, Vagabonde. When I first moved to Paris at the age of 28, I was terribly homesick and used to wish (stupidly, I admit) that my husband could get a job in St. Pierre or Miquelon so that I could at least be just a ferry ride from Canada. Still haven't made it there.
Did you keep in touch with the woman who took you to Casa Loma?

stardust said...

Thank you for the nice comment, which brought me to this wonderful blog. You look a vagabond by nature: you have loved home but you can fly to your longing so free and comfortable. I got attracted by the fado accompanied by the Portuguese guitar which sounded both pleasant and sentimental at the same time. Now I’m longing for British countryside motivated by the English literatures I like like Pride & Prejudice and NY as a lifelong fan of Billy Joel. Though I only had a few oversea travels (Hawaii, Germany, and Austria), I’ve had domestic travels countless times even without counting my visits to my 91-year-old mother in Kobe twice a week. Kobe is two hours away. The paintings of Paris made me nostalgic for the past of my loved hometown. My thoughts always wander between memories and anticipations. Look forward to your next post.


Jenn Jilks said...

I visited Paris once with hubby #2, sort of a post-honeymoon!
He's taken all three of his wives!
I truly loved it.
We are content, now, to stay at home in Ontario. He HAD to travel on business weekly. No fun.

Thanks for visiting!

Fennie said...

I saw a (French) film about St Pierre et Miquelon, once, and that intrigued me, so I read your posts about the islands with great interest. There are many reasons I suppose why one travels. But personally I like returning to where I know and I dislike being a 'tourist' - far better to have some tie to the place you are visiting.

Kiwi Nomad said...

Thanks for visiting my blog Vagabonde. You have certainly traveled widely! I will be back in Paris myself in April for a few days, before I head to Cluny. One day there I am meeting up with some friends I met on the Camino, and they are going to walk with me in the Marais area, where she grew up. I am very much looking forward to it.

Lonicera said...

For me the review of why I go places was most unsatisfactory. The unvarnished truth is that my holiday destinations have been dictated by the man in my life and/or where my parents lived. Only since becoming involved in my Patagonia project a few years ago after both parents had passed away did I realise I could actually go there on my own steam, and take the pictures I wanted to take. It was a liberating experience.

rauf said...

i have watched many films just because they were shot in Pris or anywhere in France. France is a dream destination for many who want to see the world.

i have traveled only within India, Vagabonde. Many places i visit are not on the tourist map. But i go to famous tourist destinations too. What i avoid is high cost that i have to pay. Cost is my deciding factor. The places i love to visit are the remote villages and forests. On the 27th i am going for a festival in Kerala and next month for a Carnival in Goa.
There are many accidental discoveries too.

hope you are doing fine Vagabonde, its been a while since i visited any blog.

Vicki Lane said...

I love that you recount your travels so beautifully -- for those of who are armchair travelers, your blog is a delight!

Ginnie said...

With Amalia singing in the background, Vagabonde, I totally understand why you listened to her so much. Lisbon has always been on my list of places to see, for sure. Maybe one day!

I must say that YOU are unique, let alone all your unique reasons for travel. I love it and am inspired!

Shammickite said...

Thank you for telling me the reasons for your travel destinations, they are as interesting as the destinations themselves. You have been very fortunate to be able to see so much of the world, with a companion who is as interested as you are!
Me? Well, I've travelled the world a bit, but not as much as I would have liked, owing to various circumstances. And now I'm by myself which makes it a little harder to travel alone.

nigeria cheap flights said...
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Reader Wil said...

Thank you for taking us on your travels by telling about them and sharing your photos.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, it's sometimes difficult to find the right birthday presents. We have everything we need and too much actually. I wish you good luck to find a proper present for your husband.
Wil, ABC Wednesday team.

Vagabonde said...

Thank you to all my bloggy friends and readers out there for visiting my blog and reading this post. I so enjoyed reading each and every one of your comments. I’ll answer some of your questions on my next post. Merci beaucoup.

Ruth said...

You are such an extraordinary person, and everything you write is interesting because of it. I would like to be a mouse in your suitcase.

I often advise students to study abroad, and to find different reasons for their destinations. It is always fun to hear them talk about why they want to go to a certain place, Ireland for instance, which has been in their psyche their whole life.

Wonderful details and pictures. By the way, I sometimes choose museums because I want to pick up postcards in the giftshop, which I use for bookmarks.

Kay said...

Wow! That's amazing! I've only been to Paris once and it was such a wonderful experience. You must know that city inside and out.

Now that we live in Hawaii... we head east more than west. The travel time is a big factor.

Margaret said...

Truly enjoyable. The Martinique women are gorgeous in those colors and I now I am off to check out Miquelon!

Mandy Southgate said...

Heh, I like this post too. I've travelled a couple of times for the love of music and the pursuit of concerts, but never for an art exhibition!

Paris said...

I agree with Paris as one of the destination. One of my memorable travel is in Paris, there are lots to see and places to go..

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