Some regular readers have been asking me recently if I really like every place I travel. After all, I seem to call a lot of cities or countries “world-class” or amazing, or any other positive adjective I might happen to use. So today, I wanted to address this. Do I really like every place I visit?
The answer is yes. And no. Let me explain.
Every country, city, region, etc… in the world has good and bad things about it. Early on in my travels, before I started The Royal Tour and even in its early days, I would tend to judge a place in comparison to others. For instance, I didn’t like my time in Nicaragua as much as I did in Guatemala – those two were the same trip so comparison was easier – so it made sense to write negatively about a place like Nicaragua. However, in retrospect, I was unfair, and that comparison was unfair.
It is natural to make comparisons. I personally like Yosemite National Park more than I like Pinnacles National Park. But does that mean Pinnacles isn’t worth visiting and doesn’t have cool aspects? No.
With the evolution of my writing, and with the corresponding evolution of my travel style, I make an effort to seek out the good things about each place I visit. I try my best to write about what makes a destination different. And in doing so, I have found I have more appreciation for each place. It doesn’t mean I enjoy every site I see in a given city; I don’t, and I am honest with you all about that. I did not enjoy going into Bratislava Castle, and I found it to be a waste of time and money, although the view from outside was worth the hike up. But just because I didn’t enjoy that one activity doesn’t mean I can’t find joy in the destination itself.
Likewise, I do my best to separate my own subjective personal experience from a destination’s overall likability. During my recent time in Prague, I was going through a medication change that affected my sleep patterns and my mood. While I know that took its toll my my personal enjoyment of my time in the city, I tried – and I hope I succeeded – in writing about the things I experienced objectively. The same can be said for visiting a place and having lousy weather; the rain might diminish my ability to enjoy some activities, but it doesn’t mean they are not good activities.
However, my talking about a given destination as being wonderful doesn’t mean it is my favorite place from a personal standpoint. Like everyone, I have places I love more than others. Some of those are for objective reasons, and some totally emotional. For instance, I just get a good feeling every time I am in Chicago, and like that city much better than I like New York. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like New York. It just means that my job as a writer is to separate that personal subjectivity out of my work, to give you an idea of what you might experience in either of those places, and what you might expect to learn from those visits.
And that is the point. Each place has stories to tell and lessons to teach. New York might show us the US immigrant experience better, while Chicago is the birthplace of the modern skyscraper and has that interesting perspective on history. I might personally prefer visiting one to the other, but both would lead to fun articles that would inevitably be positive. And hence, I would like both cities.
So yes, while I certainly don’t enjoy all destinations I visit equally, I do find enjoyment pretty much everywhere, and have learned to focus on those aspects of any given place that are unique and interesting, while doing my best to avoid direct comparison with other similar destinations. And so my feedback that each place is awesome is honest.
I hope that makes sense.