“The traveller sees what he sees, the tourist sees what he has come to see.”
After living in Amsterdam for a few weeks we’ve had the chance to see so many things. However, I must confess that when we left home we didn’t have any set plans for the trip. Once all of the logistics for flying and accommodations were taken care of we didn’t bother to make a strict list of things we needed to see or do while we were here. And we love it that way!
We’re so excited to be travelling with our kids and to have the opportunity to experience new places together. I think putting yourself in new places stretches yourself to learn, can make you more intentional, and lets you see how other people live; it’s about seeing new things and experiencing a new culture. It think that for this reason, it’s been interesting to come to Amsterdam without a list of ‘to dos’ to check off, but rather setting out every day without a destination and exploring a new city and country. We always manage to find things to do, and it’s not about the tourist places we see, but the experience of going somewhere new and opening our mind.
One day we were exploring downtown without a direction, and my husband suggested that we throw a shoe in the air; it doesn’t matter where we end up, we’ll end up there together!
We have seen so many cool places since being here, but I suspect the things that our kids will remember most clearly are the things that happened by chance: discovering a near-by fountain (or as the kids called it ‘water town’); wandering the market for 2 hours to explore all the different vendors; finding a new park where we fed the ducks and crossed over little bridges to find a hidden playground; stopping by the river to watch boats glide under the bridge and smiling as the people on the boats below waved up at us.
I hope we can teach our kids this minimalist lesson in life too: that life isn’t a checklist of things you have to get done, but a journey to grow into the person you were meant to be. We don’t need to clamour for more things or prestige, but we can be thankful, satisfied and fulfilled in ‘the now’. Travelling through life isn’t a race or a straight line, and there’s no set list of material things that can make us happy.
Certainly, travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.
-Mary Ritter Beard