Travel With a Reason
The more you travel, the wiser and more tolerant you become
Why should you visit Romania? I saw a coverage on TV… It’s full of gypsies, beggars, thieves and poor people… It’s dangerous. It’s a former Communist country. What do you expect?
… and it’s full of vampires, I would add. Yes, and they fly out at night and attack you on the streets to suck your blood 🙂
How Easy It Is To Put a Label
Don’t judge a book by its cover. Don’t judge people before knowing them. Don’t judge a destination before visiting it!
During my fourteen years of activity as a tour guide in Transylvania (Romania) I have met thousands of tourists from all over the world — around 35 countries. People with various backgrounds, education, professions, religions. Many of them were traveling with a reason: to discover a culture, a civilization!
But, for me as a tour guide, there are two categories of travelers:
– Those who know some general facts of Romania and have no expectations, whatsoever; they’re rather curious to visit a different destination;
– Those who have low expectations of Romania. They read the press often and generalize everything thinking it is a very poor country from the former Communist block.
Many people think Romania is full of Roma (Gypsy) people, beggars and thieves watching you every little corner. They remember that Romania of the early ‘90s — a country full of orphanages and disabled children. Overall, they think Romania is pretty bad but it might deserve a try. After all, it’s also quite cheap…
We take things for granted without a double check and we have lots of preconceived ideas. “Why would you go to Romania?” your friend John might ask you… “I’ve seen a coverage about the beggars and poor people there. It’s dangerous!”… With some hesitation you press the booking button and decide to take this vacation in Romania . You have little expectations, you just hope not to get robbed and get back home safe and sound.
Maybe you’re gay and your friends warned you that Romania is a conservative, religious country and if you walk hand in hand with your partner on the street, you might end up crucified. Still, you’re not that worried and decide to come but promise your partner to keep distance… at least, the social distance…
So, are you traveling with a particular reason or just to check another destination?
Romania, a surprising country
Finally, you arrive in Romania and you realize it isn’t so bad… It’s like most of the countries you’ve visited so far. You appreciate that, despite its terrible past, it has made great progress in the last 10–15 years. You feel safe, you enjoy great places, good services and you meet lovely, friendly people.
You even meet some gypsies, learn about their past and understand that they are people just like us… but less fortunate.
Your vacation was a success and you’re looking forward to going back home and telling John and all the other friends about it! Romania outreached your expectations and you realize that, traveling, you have the chance to discover places and people, to understand the world better.
Are we the cave people?
Traveling with a reason, you learn and have direct access to information, you discover. The more you travel, the more you realize that the reality is quite different from what you have known. It’s like in the allegory of the cave.
It talks about a group of people who have lived chained to the wall of a cave all of their lives, facing a blank wall. The people watch shadows projected on the wall from objects passing in front of a fire behind them, and give names to these shadows. The shadows are the prisoners’ reality. But, one day, the prisoners manage to break their bonds and discover that their reality was not what they thought it was.
We’re all trapped within a world of fake news and distorted reality. There is such a big amount of new information coming over and over again that we’re overwhelmed. We don’t have time to filter it anymore, to check its veracity. We swallow it quickly, we don’t even digest it and, out of the blue, we spill it out. We put a wrong label on people, on things, on reality.
But, traveling, we get out of our “cave” and have our greatest epiphany : the world can be different from what we’ve perceived all our life! Those shadows were just a product of our imagination.
“We Travel To Break Myths”
So, why stay captive within a “cave” when we could travel and check reality with our own eyes?
A few years ago I had a couple from Canada as tourists in my hometown, Sibiu. After the city tour, we sat at a terrace and had a lovely, relaxing chat. They told me that they were on a tour in South Europe, in the countries of the former Soviet Block. Romania was among them.
Actually, they were traveling in these countries for a particular reason: to check whether everything they had learned in school or had heard in the media about these countries was true: “We want to break myths! We want to prove how superficial the media and people can be”.
They accomplished their mission, as tourists. They were fascinated by the places they visited during their vacation. They were happy with their travel choice and promised to be back. Traveling, they became more knowledgeable.
If you decide to travel with a reason and break a myth in Romania, I’d be happy to be your guide!