Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Travel Blasphemy #5: Sometimes a Postcard is Better Than the Real Thing

Postcard I sent to my parents from Mt. Rushmore, my first solo road trip

Sometimes a postcard is better than the real thing .. or at least just as good.

I remember when I first discovered this unmentionable side of travel. It was my first solo road trip on an Important Birthday.

I drove to the Black Hills in South Dakota from Missouri. I stopped at Mount Rushmore, got out of my car, walked over to my first sighting of this national icon, and felt .... stunned.  Looking at Mount Rushmore face-to-face elicited no different a response from me than when I'd looked at postcards of same. What a revelation this was.

Since that trip, I've occasionally had similar experiences. Istanbul was the most recent, where in fact, watching a virtual tour of such famous sites as the Blue Mosque and the Basilica Cistern was a better experience than my real, live visits. No crowds, no waiting in line, and no annoying muzak intended to enhance one's enjoyment.

The next time I go to a city filled with "must-see" sites, I'll look at the virtual tour first (maybe while I'm kicked back on a sofa in my pajamas and drinking some good coffee) and then decide if it's a place I want to visit in person.

I'm not going to feel guilty about it, either. After all, I've got finite resources in time, money, and hassle-tolerance - every hour and dollar I invest in a "must-see" is time and money I can't apply to another place or activity that isn't a "must-see," but that I might enjoy far more.

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