I read Kathy's entry about Slow Travel, and got thinking about what a difference belonging to the ST community made in my life last year. I would never have made my October solo "pilgrimage" to Florence had it not been for the knowledge and encouragement of that community. The women who have gone on their own solo journeys and shared their experiences on the ST board, and on their blogs were an especially wonderful inspiration!
Kathy is going to post a single word and photograph that captured, for her, the Slow Travel experience. Those who know me will know that I cannot contain myself to one word when writing! So I will not copy her example exactly, instead I will sort of borrow her idea but adapt it to my own style. What follows are a few words and photos that reflect the difference Slow Travel has made to my travel experience...
I discovered what an incredibly rejuvenating, peaceful, exciting, refreshing blessing it is to stay in one place long enough to have time to simply wander and see what's around the bend with no particular destination in mind:
I discovered the wonder of solo travel. By ignoring any thought of going somewhere new, instead returning to Florence for the third time, I experienced an amazing and unexpected sense of belonging in that place that draws me and fills my soul with joy and my heart with the beat of its rhythm. And, unlike the city near my home, I enjoyed an amazing sense of feeling safe, as a woman alone, wandering the golden streets of a city far from home:
Instead of pushing myself to see more, more, more, I simply rambled around at my own pace. I took the time to attend church services every Sunday during my trip. In doing so, I realized how much I have come to love Sunday worship, even if not in my own beloved church. I felt a neat connection at St. James Episcopal church in Florence, when (to my surprise) I found that I was familiar with much of the liturgy. On the last Sunday of my trip, I had been feeling a bit melancholic, but was so uplifted and renewed by the service I attended. I wrote: "I walked back to the historic centre feeling full of the Spirit, full of song, full of joy on this gorgeous day."
I did not attend worship at this small church in Fiesole, but sat alone for quite a while, feeling a sense of peace and wonder:
Had I not stumbled across the Slow Travel website a couple years ago, I would never have thought of making a solo journey to Italy. I may not have stopped to appreciate the richness of staying put and beginning to know one place instead of getting glimpses of many. Being somewhat prone to impatience, I may have remained caught up in the excitement of wanting to see it all, instead of choosing just to be...to slow down and soak up the culture, listen to the language, relax into the rhythms. This way of journeying fills my soul, my heart, my mind. Nevermind the rushing around from sight to sight, I am utterly hooked on travelling slow!!
I would also never have met Maria, were we not both members of the Slow Travel family!