I blame Disney World for my desire to travel with my appetite leading the way. Food is an easy way to experience culture and is a large part of the way I travel. Growing up eating chicken feet and odd textures was a good basis to be open minded about different food.
Epcot changed the way I saw the world or to be more precise, I saw the world for the first time. Yes the Disney version of the world, but the world nonetheless. The costumes and architecture were the antithesis of my cookie cutter corner of suburbia. Smells and tastes went beyond my very young palate. Noodles had only been Chinese or Italian. But in a dark Bavarian tavern, I was confronted with soft pillows of pale egg noodles bathing in a warm spiced brown sauce. I think my dad just wanted beer at the time, but it changed everything I knew.
Disney is an antiseptic way to see the world; the safe distillation of the journey at our fingertips. There’s nothing wrong with that.
There is one other memory that solely contributed to the way I travel. Upon my burgeoning adolescence, my parents once again took us into a journey, but this time further away. I don’t know why my parents decided to drive within continental Europe, but it changed everything.
Somewhere upon the windy motorway in Switzerland, we were lost upon it’s rolling pastures. Stopping at a small grocery store, my father begrudgingly sought instructions. My mother decided to feed her grumpy children. We were probably all grumpy.
This wasn’t Disney World. We were all being challenged in some way like a dare of the universe. Every olfactory sensation was new: petrol, people, air. Music and languages were unfamiliar and tickled my brain. Even the frequency of the light hummed at a different rate.
We settled on a table with our impromptu picnic lunch. The cheese came in a little pyramid container. There were stuffed tomatoes. Salads were darker. Everything was spectacular. I don’t know what we talked about, but I remember the sensation of eating the glorious meal. Cheese, meat and vegetables all different in tangs and textures danced on my tongue. And in the landscape, a ballet of bucolic life danced before us as the Alps outlined the horizon.
My sister and I still recall this lunch.
From then on my synapses were wired not only to find what’s outside the boundaries of my home, but to also allow things to get off schedule. Because when you are adrift, you can find treasures unknown.