What a perfect article. Thanks for posting. Unfortunately, we can't convince anyone to travel like we do, unless we take them with us, which doesn't always work out well. We find most people want to be on the go all the time. We always eat lunch out, then return back to our rental late afternoon, where we fix breads, cheeses and something like salami, with a wonderful glass or two of wine, and enjoy the scenery outside.
Our most memorable moments, are meeting people in restaurants, where we ask a simple question in the local language. It usually turns into a wonderful conversation. One time in Varenna on Lake Como, we were having dinner at a local restaurant, and I overheard a bit of English spoken every once in awhile. My husband does speak some Italian, however, which is a real ice breaker. Anyway, that particular afternoon, I was walking along one of the main roads and heard a Coo-Coo going off. I thought to myself that someone's coo-coo clock was broken, because it never stopped. I mentioned it to that group of people, and they broke out laughing, because they said it was a real coo-coo bird. Truly, I had no idea they were real. We ended up joining our tables together, and had the most fun. They even introduced us to the local favorite after dinner drink, Amaro. Told us it would help settle our tummies after a large meal.
Sorry, that got a bit long, but that is the joy of slow travel. By the way, two couples were Swiss German, and another British. An evening, we will never forget. This happens all the time with Slow Travel. I can't thank Pauline enough for all the information I glean from her website.
P.S. How often can you compare such delights as staying in the same rental as other Slow Travelers, and writing about the wonderful house cat, waiting at the door for you everyday? Correct Pauline?
It worries me the way some people try and cram so much into a holiday that they don’t have time to relax and enjoy it. So many new experiences must begin to merge into a blur after the first few days. I remember talking to a Canadian Lady some years ago and asked if she was enjoying her holiday. Her comment was “I’ll tell you when I get home and look at the photographs”. She was being deadly serious too.
It also worries me the way so many people stick in their little tourist bubble and never meet, talk and interact with the locals. They come back home having seen a lot but having learned nothing about the places they have been too.
And finally it worries me how everyone flocks mindlessly to the list of ‘must see’ sights (which by their very nature are always busy with other tourists ) ignoring everything else a place has to offer. I grant you there are some places that are absolutely unique and do merit the term ‘must see’, but for many others it is possible to find somewhere else that is as good but is ignored by the tourists as it isn’t a ‘must see sight’.
After planning obsessively for our 18 days in Ireland, the first leg of our vacation, I've slowed things down a bit for the next legs. For our 2 weeks in Yorkshire, I have a list of places I want to visit, but no timetable. I got even lazier about our 2 weeks in Sussex, but I'm telling myself that just BEING there is enough, and I can't imagine running out of things to do. I keep telling myself 'it's okay, it's okay, it's okay', but the planner in me isn't quite convinced. Relaxing isn't my strong suit, even tho I'm lazy as a slug, go figure. But I'm trying to do what @Eleanor mentioned, to just meet and mingle and wander. Really, why DO we buy into the 'must-see' way of thinking? Slow Travel - the concept AND the website/message board - changed our lives for sure!
I doubt there would be many quibbles here with that article.
I suppose there is a danger that we sit here agreeing with each other, but there will be others out there who love a breakneck scurry around a country on holiday. I doubt they'd be drawn to a 'Slow' site.
There can be cultural reasons for a manic holiday, e.g. so little holiday from work, that people feel they have to try and cram more in. An energetic mindset can indeed do this, but very easy to take that too far, and travel lots and see nothing (but a collection of sites that you've already seen photos of before). Another might be social pressure of "if you're going to X, you MUST go to these places there", or the reputed attitude of one nation, that unless you have all the photos to prove it, you'll be doubted that you went there.
One piece of advice I'd offer those energetic people, is to think about what counts for 'enjoyable' holiday, and what is hassle / stress. If they find themselves resenting early starts, or miles driving on Autostrade / Motorways, or constantly queuing up, then they've got the balance wrong. Minimise the things you find boring / stressful so that a higher percentage of your holiday time is doing what you like doing. Good planning can really make a massive difference, but never the inflexible planning that ends up with a rigid itinerary. Such planning is beyond a timetable for ticking off famous sites, but more about working out how to see and do what you want to see & do, and not what a guide book or friend shouts is a 'must see'. In simple terms, minimising number of bases means less time spent checking in, unpacking, getting bearings, packing, checking out, and the waiting around / dull time spent travelling between locations (excepting that cleverly judged travelling can be genuinely enjoyable, as we find the Freccia trains to be.
I never cease to be amazed by the people who try and plan their itineraries down to the last minute with exact timings for how long it is going to take them to drive between destinations and how long they are going to stop in each place. I have to wonder how long it is before the timing goes out of the window. Slow moving traffic, trying to find a space in a busy car park, or even a queue for the toilets must play havoc.
I fully agree with Eleanor's sentiments. People are always asking for the BEST place to stay and the BEST restaurant and must see . I am always amazed at people who come with restaurants booked for lunch and dinner everyday because they are must eat at places. We rarely stay in a place that is considered touristy and we love just meandering about . You never know what you will see . And then coming 'home' at the end of the day to a comfortable gite.
And a lot of people do not realise how affordable slow travelling can be. People we tell about our trips are always amazed we can afford to travel to France for ten weeks. However, an inexpensive gite and cooking meals at home are the answer. 'Oh, we do not go on holidays to cook meals' is often their response as they wistfully watch us plan our next trip.
The other thing we love about eating at the apartment, is we can eat what and when we want. Not tied to hotel breakfasts, nor restaurant lunch or evening restaurant opening. If we want to slum it with cheese on toast, or have a long leisurely succession of small dishes, then we can.
It's very rare we cook in the true sense of the word. It's usually warm weather, so we'll always have a revolving salad / picnic selection on the go - revolving because we keep topping up what we have, so as one thing is finished, something else comes in to make it feel like a very different meal.
Gastronomie and Pasta shops are great for getting food that is already prepared, such that a few minutes warming it up is all that is needed - and we fully embrace the approach that pasta doesn't need to be drowned in a sauce, when tossing it in some butter and herbs, with perhaps a few toasted pine nuts, is already perfection.
On the rare occasions we cook a proper meal, it's because we're drawn to some extra special fresh produce, be that fish, steak, mushrooms, zucchini flowers etc. that generate the excitement to cook. In Portugal we spotted some chicken of the woods mushrooms and that led to a market trip to get food to match to cook a meal.
Caution is the best advice anyone can ever give for mushroom recognition, so I'd never berate anyone for not being confident to pick and eat it. I suppose by it's location (often half way up a tree) it massively limits the potential for confusion, making positive identification much easier. Luckily my partner is an enthusiastic amateur, happy to bury herself in the numerous books and also to attend regular local mushroom hunting days out. Despite that we don't pick and eat many wild mushrooms, as much of what we see locally falls into the large 'not poisonous, but unappetising' category. Me I'm just the faithful hound - I love hunting for them, but am much more clueless about what's what.
FWIW we simply fried chunks in butter and added some herbs - I think some fresh Thyme picked up at the market. IIRC a lovely texture, not at all slimy, and a subtle but pleasant flavour. It was a little dry - perhaps we'd not adjusted to the drier local climate, and should have used a little more butter.
Thank you @Ian Sutton. I remember being taken on fungi forays in my youth by an aunt. It was a very august group (including the lady who wrote the Observer Book of Fungi). We came back with baskets of edible fungi which we did eat afterwards but I seem to remember they just tasted like 'mushrooms'! I think I was expecting something a bit more exotic...
To be fair there aren't a huge number of wold mushrooms that I really love, but I'll try them and I rather enjoy the hunt, either in the woods, or holidays where there is a good selection on the market.
Favourites would be porcini/ceps which at their best can be stunning. Morels a little hit and miss, but never picked any to eat (though we did find some growing in the city, a stone's throw from work, on some wood chip. Picked some to put on our own wood chip (concerned about car fumes being absorbed so not picked and eaten). However the spores didn't take on our wood chip. Chanterelles of various types all enjoyable and St Georges mushrooms lovely for breakfast.
Beyond that I've not tasted anything else that excited. Amanita Caesaria didn't impress, puffballs are substantial but almost tasteless, wood and field blewitts were ok but not tastes in ages. Jellied ear useful in stews, but of no great flavour.
One mushroom of note (whose name I don't recall) was a brittlegill that smelled of fish, and hence ended up in a fish dish. Remarkable aroma and a great lesson that smell can be another useful tool in identification.