Gentle Journeys: Exploring the World Around Us

Footprints in the sand
We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started

And know the place for the first time.
T.S. Eliot

One reason we chose to begin our retirement years in Spain was our desire to learn about the various cultures of Europe through travel. But when we first came to Europe, social media, cheap flights, and local marketing campaigns attracted throngs of selfie-clicking tourists to every iconic tourist location tagged on Google Maps. That’s when we said to ourselves, we don’t need to do this.  We don’t need to see the “great sights” written up in every travel book, pitched by every tour company, or highlighted in a glossy travel brochure.

Even though Covid changed things for a bit we stuck with our decision to travel to satisfy our curiosity and to discover how other people live without contributing to the massive screwing up of places. Can we Journey Gently in the world as it is today?

Learners Instead of Tourists

Gentle journeys are not as easy as they were when we were young backpackers. When we thought it was enough to tread softly and pack out everything that we carried in. Today we realize that we devalue our time and the local culture whenever we travel as distracted tourists instead of conscientious guests.

These days we travel for a defined purpose and not to tick off an item on some bucket list. We look for  out-of-the way destinations and stay long enough in one place to understand the rhythm of life there.  We  learn about the history and local culture of an area.

We try to behave as respectful guests by:

    • supporting local businesses,
    • avoiding businesses and situations established primarily for the convenience of the tourism industry,
    • avoiding places and activities that, due to their outsized environmental and social impacts, degrade the local culture or economy,
    • using public transportation, walking, hiking or cycling.

Moving to Spain

White stucco mill with red tile roof in Spain

In 2017 we sold our home in Oregon, sold or donated the bulk of our possessions, packed up five pets, and set out for Spain. What does it take to move abroad? Keep reading to find out what worked, what didn't and how you can do a better job of it.

Living in Spain

The city hall plaza of Valencia Spain
We imagined that we'd live in Valencia until we learned Spanish. After three years we still hadn't mastered Spanish. We did, however, have experiences we aren't likely to forget while exploring Spain and Portugal and enjoying the friendship of some wonderful people.

Exploring Europe

A young woman walking in front of anciant stairs in Spain
After our senior companion animals died, we decided to give up our home base in Valencia in order to explore Europe. We were at it for more than two years. Now we are back in the USA, still wandering as we search for a place where we can settle in for the long haul.

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