Tuesday, August 14, 2007


For reasons I do not understand, the otherness of traveling in Europe does not overwhelm. If anything should, it would be this. Dipthonged language that implies a depth beyond our Americanness. Social custom speaking to a mode already gone by. Even the buildings are different. Most doors in German apartments are exactly the same. The door to the kitchen has the same lock as that of the entryway. You can drink spiced wine on the street.

Perhaps it owes to the power of myth of the Romantic within. We want to be a part of this foreignness to make us feel worldly. Perhaps a cultural memory of our origins. The reason some languages sound like songs from childhood. Other reasons are just plain obvious.

One is tripped up, if lucky, by train schedules and late hostel occupancy, opportunities of taste and secret alleys of consequence, but not by the looming strangeness of it all. The small differences stretch us acceptably. I feel it is rooted in the phenomenon of tourism - itself a living thing, though not sentient - in that one is completely submurged, unable to pick and choose what to imbibe. You grow gills or end up at the bottom of the tank.

* photo by Shanghai Sky at Flikr

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