Tuesday, July 15, 2008

What I learned on my summer vacation 

We haven't done much travelling really, not outside North America.
Now that I have spent ten days in London and four in Edinburgh, speaking to numerous cab drivers in both cities, I am an expert on all things United Kingdom -- or at least just as much of an expert as most journalists think they are following similar trips!
What I found reassuring was how much we are all alike -- the pervasive worldwide American culture, with Starbucks on every corner everywhere -- but also our newspapers are full of basically the same concerns, politics and jobs and kids and crime and the economy and celebrity scandals and Bradjolina's babies. And the people were all just as busy as we are with working and raising families and shopping and walking the dog.
I also treasured the uniqueness and differences -- absolutely expert fearless drivers, department stores that are a maze of interconnected rooms, paving-stone sidewalks, news-agent greengrocers, delicious pastries, decorative flourishes on just about every building, streets created out of alleys, tiny neighbourhood pubs, "private" parks, statues everywhere, light switches that flicked down for on and up for off . . . and just the sheer age of it all, compared to Saskatoon (where the very oldest house is just 125 years old).
So, I don't have any great insights or philosophies, but it will take me a long time to absorb it all. I guess that's what travel is all about.

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