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 1845-1916When 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.
Place St Michel et Notre-Dame by Edouard-Léon Cortès, French 1882-1969
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.
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 cameraSomewhere 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 1840-1926The 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.
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
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.