For the last few years, I have been traveling internationally with a group I formed called Literary Sisters. The women are together because we share a love of reading, in book clubs, or on our own. We enjoy traveling with like-minded people and have a great time. If you love reading and movies, there is something so uplifting about visiting the places we have been reading about, or seeing in movies. There are usually 25 women in the group although, next March, we are taking an Arabian Cruise from Dubai and 50 have signed up to go. Here are some observations on our recent trips.
Paris is the backdrop for many stories and movies. Being there, walking the streets and boulevards, crossing the bridges, standing at the bottom of the Eiffel Tower just as the lights are turned on in the evening, was exciting.
Many of us have the pleasure of living in cities like Chicago and New York with lots of lovely art galleries. But the Louvre remains prized above the rest. Go to the Louvre and experience the best and, while in Paris, also visit the Musée d’Orsay, home of the art of the impressionists, Manet, Monet and others. The art galleries in Paris are huge, wonderful and unforgettable.
We loved shopping in Barcelona and eating at tapas bars. We came a few days early before our European cruise a couple of years ago. The genius of Picasso is dramatically displayed in the Picasso museum dedicated to his work. When in Europe, add Barcelona to the list of cities to visit.
Earlier this year, we were off to South Africa for our second visit to that country. We had, of course, read and studied about the atrocities of apartheid and the amazing Nelson Mandela whose faith and conviction ended this terrible practice.
Standing in the prison cell where Mr. Mandela was held for 28 years while he continued to fight again apartheid is a life changing moment. It made us think about what do we care about changing and what would we be willing to do about it? The treatment he and his supporters endured in the prison was so abusive, it is hard to imagine. It is a difficult trip to Robben Island, but one not to be missed. We travel to understand and experience life and this was his life.
The guides at the now empty prison were men who were detained along with Nelson Mandela fighting beside him. And today they completely forgive their captors. Hearing their words changed my definition of forgiveness. They take it to another level. It alters the way you think about people you need to forgive. Travel did this in a way that reading about forgiveness never would.
The other part of our visit to South Africa was going into the bush for a photo safari. We have animal rights organizations here in our country but I do not think we understood the issues surrounding zoos until we were there seeing how peacefully and freely the wild animals live their lives, while we bring them here and put them in cages. It was another lesson we learned that changed the way we think.
The luxury resorts we stayed in were animal sanctuaries and the owners seek to protect them and preserve their futures. The animals are accustomed to the jeeps driving around the bush. Lions, elephants and more, usually (they said this) walk right along beside them without fear or danger. It was just so different to open the door of my cabin and see zebras grazing in my front yard.
Asia and Beyond
We have had many more wonderful times, including a trip to China last September.
I hope you will be encouraged to take a chance and take an international trip soon. If you have never ventured overseas, I suggest to go with a group, because it is safer and more fun if you do not have someone already to travel with. My group is very diverse and the women are from all over the country.
You are welcomed to join us on a future trip:
Two groups I looked at before starting my own were:
Gutsy Women Travel
Women Traveling Together