I don’t understand how people travel to more than 1 country at a time on a vacation. How can I connect with a country in 2 days? What memories will I carry home? When I think about Italy, I don’t think about the Vatican or Colosseum. I remember sitting next to the sea at Naples and having a breezer, waiting for the buses in Rome, eating chicken curry and rice at midnight (Indian time. It was 9 pm in Italy) on my birthday at a Bangladeshi outlet because I didn’t want to look at another piece of bread, watching street performers in Florence and Naples, giving directions to other foreigners in Rome, eating every flavour of gelato (we exceeded our gelato budget). I don’t want to travel from tourist spot to tourist spot. I want to experience the city. I want to know what it feels like to actually live in this country. What would I eat? What kind of house would I live in? What air would I breathe? How would I commute to work? What kind of car would I drive (In Italy, not a very good one)? What kind of bus would I take? How would I dress? What would I do for entertainment?
When I close my eyes, I don’t remember the Duomo at Florence. I remember our airbnb host and his house and how he left it unattended when we left for a vacation on our last day there. I remember the old area of the city. I remember the new area because we took the wrong bus and landed up very far from our homestay. I remember the view from the window of our room. I remember the leather shops. I remember the small cafes. I remember the lady who wore my favourite perfume and I asked her about it. I remember the streets we walked on.
As we make final bookings for our international trip next month, I hope to discover another country where I have only done touristy things. I hope this time around I remember more than Sentosa Island, the night safari, Little India and Jurong bird park. I hope I can tell you what the people are like, what the cuisine is like, how they live, what language they speak etc etc. I hope I experience it enough to tell you what it would be like to live there. And no, we are not doing any other country like most people.