Rick Steves on Regional Identity and Europe, and me on the biological need to travel.
13.01.2009 - 13.01.2009 8 °C
In November I read an interesting article by Rick Steves. The article, entitled United Europe celebrates ethnic diversity, talks about how despite the increasing unity on the continent, regional peoples, cultures and languages are flourishing.
As Europe united, I feared its ethnic diversity would be threatened. But I find just the opposite is happening. In Europe there are three loyalties: to your region, to your nation and to Europe.
Ask a person from Munich where he's from and he'll say, "I'm Bavarian," or "I'm German" or "I'm European," depending on his generation and his outlook. Ask somebody from Barcelona, and she'll say, "I'm Catalunyan," or "I'm Spanish" or "I'm European," depending on her viewpoint. These days city halls all over Europe fly three flags: regional, national, and European.
Back in my entry on my trip to France for Bastille Day, in describing why I moved to Paris, I was a little rough on Rick Steves. I said:
Most of my experience in seeing Europe came from two sources: people’s slide shows of bus tours and Rick Steves. If ever there was a combination of sources of inspiration to inspire you NOT to go to the place, it was these two... At home, you flip on PBS to find Rick Steves looking out a train window while his voice-over says, “the Swiss Alps have excellent train connections through them, and the trains are fast, reliable and frequent. You can even get food on board, as you see the crew and I sharing a few Swiss pastries.”
Let me know apologise for that. I still do think that his TV show is dull, but I was very impressed with his article. It communicates one of the main things I have enjoyed about Europe - it's diversity in culture and language. People take pride in their regional identity, but accept those with other identities.
You can check out more at the CNN travel site.
I also read another article by an intelligent and frankly very good looking author, a Mr. Greg Wesson. It's an article I wrote for a website called Travelblogs.com, entitled Monkeys With Suitcases: The Biological Imperative To Travel. The article, partially tongue in cheek, examines how the desire to travel is in our genes.
It is in our genes, in our genetic code, to be explorers, adventurers and travellers. As life has evolved from the primordial ooze to the wide diversity that exists on our little blue-green rock today, at every step the beings that eventual evolved into us where the ones that got out there, took the chance and made a move. We are chance-takers by genetic necessity. If we weren’t, we would have died out, or evolved into something very different, like rhesus monkeys, sheep or catfish. Overall in evolution, survival of the fittest might rule, but when it comes to human evolution, it is survival of the most likely to pack a change of underwear, a toothbrush and take off down the road.
You can read the full article at Travelblogs.com: Monkeys With Suitcases: The Biological Imperative To Travel