Monday, August 13, 2012

Travelling without a destination


Meuse Source number 1

When you say that you are going to make a travel, the first question always is: where are you going to? The question seems obvious, but is it really so? I mean, of course, we have to go somewhere when travelling, but is it a matter of fact that the destination is its most important aspect? Is it so that a travel is intrinsically unsuccessful when we don’t reach our destination, i.e. the geographical purpose or purposes of our trip? That we must say that we don’t have made a travel, if we hadn’t at least planned to reach a certain location, even if we don’t reach it for one reason or another?
Although I must go somewhere when making a travel (not counting a travel in my mind), I think that it is quite well possible to go on a trip in which the geographical destination is a redundant aspect. In the Netherlands, the summer this year is rainy and cool. It’s not the type of weather that you would like to go to the beach and take a sunbath. So, sun-worshippers want to go away, to the south, where it is warm and sunny and where you can sunbathe when you like. At present, the Dutch newspapers are full of advertisements with travels to the beaches of Spain, Greece, Turkey or Gambia or wherever they have warm sunny beaches. But is it really important for our sun-worshippers to which of these countries they’ll go? I think it isn’t. What counts is whether there is a good beach, whether the weather is good, the price of the trip and maybe a few things more, but the geographical destination is secondary for most people. They simply want to sunbathe and that’s the actual purpose of the trip.
Or to take another instance, my wife and I just returned from Northeastern France, where we followed the River Meuse from Sedan till its sources. Once we had seen the sources, we directly drove home. Does this mean that the Meuse sources were the destination and primary purpose of our trip? That the first question to ask about our travel is “Where have you been?” with a “to the Meuse sources” as its obvious reply? No, for what we really have done there is making photos of towns and villages on the Meuse with a pinhole camera. We had allotted two weeks for the project, and when we wouldn’t have reached the sources of the river, we still would have made a lot of pinhole pictures and we might go there later again for doing the last part of the river. Moreover, my actual project is not so much taking pinhole photos of towns and villages on the Meuse, but making such photos along any river. Since such a purpose is too abstract, this time I had chosen the Meuse in France as the river and then its sources as the logical final destination of the present trip. So we can say that travelling along the Meuse was the secondary destination of our trip and seeing its sources the tertiary destination. The purpose of the trip or, if you like, its primary destination, was taking pinhole photos of towns and villages on a river, in this case on the Meuse.
The upshot is: There are many ways to travel. Travelling to a geographical destination is only one way, and often this aim is secondary at most.

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