A fruitless search for the romance in modern travel
On the course of a trip home for Christmas from Melbourne to the Central Coast in NSW, I had ahead of me what many others can sympathise with, a long trip dragging an uncomfortable amount of luggage and a collection of presents from one state to another.
On my journey I had a bus trip (to the airport) a plane trip (to Sydney) and a train trip (to the Central Coast), so like many I decided to grit my teeth and try and make the best of it. This is where the ‘slow movement travel’ philosophy comes to play.
Much can be commended for the philosophy of slow movement in travel - the idea that part of the fun is in getting there, to take your time and enjoy the trip, rather than racing towards the destination.
Thrown in are thoughts of sustainability and favouring public transport, and you are left with a rather old fashioned, romantic view of travel.
My first road block was that I could find little to enjoy in the prospect of an 11 hour train trip from Melbourne to Sydney, so I opted for the cop-out option of flying.
I tried to make the most out of a ridiculously overpriced early morning bus trip to the airport. Next I was charged $25 per ticket to check in to the flight, and waited almost a hour as a crowded mob angrily pressed passed four overworked security guards at the only open checkpoint. I tried to smile benignly, fan myself in the stuffy airport with my ticket, and enjoy the experience.
The flight was crowded, delayed, and at six feet tall (which isn’t overly tall these days) I found myself uncomfortably folded into a seat, with my knees practically wrapped around my shoulders to fit. I fixed an inane and slightly worrying smile on my face, and tried to convince myself I was having a good time.
By the time I’d been charged $17 for the privilege of leaving the domestic terminal by train, been robbed not once, but twice by the same vending machine while purchasing chips, and boarded a long, all stations train to Gosford full of rowdy teenagers, I had not only lost all enthusiasm for the slow movement philosophy, but in danger of losing my Christmas spirit all together.
The slow travel movement seems to have somewhat lofty aims, but the basic gist is to put some old time values in modern times, no matter how much time has moved on. And it’s hard - in Australia with so much ground to cover (and in the absence of a bullet train that could cover the distance in a few hours) to make a journey without using an airline service is an overly time consuming journey - one that few are going to undertake considering the cheap prices of plane tickets (before all the hidden extra fees, of course).
It doesn’t help that ‘enjoying the journey’ isn’t a high priority for those who provide the planes, trains and buses. If it does, it is somewhere on the list far below getting you from point A to point B at the lowest cost, while taking as much money from you along the way as possible.
My journey back to Melbourne was more of the same, but at least the extra long wait in the airport due to my flight being delayed by an hour has given me time to write. You find the joy where you can, even if it can’t be found in traveling.
Matt’s blog: End of the Spectrum
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