The Best Form of Education Is Travel……according to me!
The love of History, Geography, Art, and French during my school days has enhanced my love of travel throughout my life. To stand in front of Leonardo da Vinci’s Mona Lisa in the Louvre was an amazing experience, even though she was a great deal smaller than I had imagined. I was lucky to view her in 1968 with no crowds to contend with. In the same year my friend and I were able to lie on the floor of the Sistine Chapel and spend as much time as we wanted to study the wondrous work with only three other people present. This was not the case in 1986 when I returned with my husband. We were ushered through with hundreds of other people with the guards screaming ‘silencioso” at the top of their voices.
I am extremely fortunate to have travelled extensively over my long lifetime and loved being with parts of the history of Europe that I had studied at school. There is a feeling of disbelief standing at the Colosseum in Rome imagining the gladiators and lions killing people along with other barbaric acts of violence. Better still is the spiritual feeling experienced as you enter the beautiful Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris, along with many other historic places, galleries and buildings.
These visits made my study books come to life.
We took our boys out of boarding school for five weeks in 1986, aged twelve years and sixteen years, to travel to America and Europe with us. The school were supportive, and I remember the headmaster commenting to me that travel was the best form of education.
We explored National Parks in California, visited many famous places in Los Angeles and San Francisco whilst staying with family at Stanford University.
Next stop was Paris and a week on the Canal du Midi which passed through intensive farming countryside and remote villages, travelling through France in a car.
The United Kingdom and London were next before we put them on a plane back to boarding school while we continued our travels……..brave or stupid parents, but they made it back to Toowoomba!
As a result of that experience the boys were able to do assignments on France, America, and England without having to do research. Neither were great students, but they received excellent results for their work and now both boys have a love of travel and history. It was a great investment in their future, especially the way they managed to negotiate their way home from the other side of the world! They became independent at a young age, as bush kids do.
Meanwhile, I love learning about different countries, cultures and history which never cease to amaze me, as I realise how young our Australia is. The different invasions, wars, protests, and upheavals Europe has endured, makes me appreciate how lucky we are to live in our country. Sadly, the world is still suffering unrest and constantly history is repeating itself. If only we could learn from the past.
We have recently returned from a wonderful trip to Rome and a beautiful river cruise from Budapest to Amsterdam on the Danube, Main and Rhine rivers. This was an education to me to view the countries from the river as opposed to road or rail. It was a very different perspective, and I loved every minute. The small, authentic villages were welcome relief after the crowds in the big cities. Visiting a beef farm in Germany was a new experience to learn how the farmers manage compared to the way we bred and grazed our beef cattle at ‘McAllister.’
What a treat to be served champagne and pastries in a castle by a real-life Princess in Germany! That was an education to be welcomed to her ‘home’ and superb garden, to observe how the family live in the enormous castle and maintain it with constant financial stress to cover the energy costs and continual maintenance without an army of staff to help.
However, it’s not all about the building and the art. The food and wine are an experience not to be missed. I have never tasted spaghetti vongole quite like it tastes in Italy. It is my favourite. The gelato, cheeses, chocolate, fish, meat, all cooled in authentic ways if you are away from the tourist areas, is also a cultural memory.
These are only a few examples of how and why I love to travel and learn about new places, people, and cultures.
I love to travel, but I love to return home even more! No place has coffee like we enjoy in Australia and there is no place like home.
Living with gratitude.
Jenny Old AUTHOR
‘Innocent Nurses Abroad’
‘Back of Beyond’ Facebook