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Thursday, March 19, 2009

When you travel, how often do you stop to sit on the steps of a fountain?

I did stop to smell the roses today in my uncle and aunt's garden. There are roses just outside the French doors to the library, which has become our office for the time that we're holed up here writing, so I have no excuse for not taking a sniff more often. And the roses are smelling especially fragrant at the moment. There's been rain this week and the garden is in full bloom despite it being the beginning of autumn (or fall, for my North American friends). But as I inhaled the scent, I did think 'Damn, I don't do this enough!' And I was reminded of a friend I used to work with who called me a robot and who frequently told me I needed to stop and smell the roses more often. So as I was looking for a photo today - no time for reminiscing, I simply had to identify a building in a city in Italy we wrote about which I'd become confused about (and that's what you get for travelling as much as we do) - I spotted this photo I'd taken in Bologna last summer. And while I've looked at the photo several times - mainly so I could describe the fountain for a book I was writing - I'd never really stopped to look at the photo properly. Because I had never noticed the kids sitting on the steps of the fountain before. All I had seen was the photo. Which led me to think about how many times I've passed fountains on our travels, especially in Europe (we spend a lot of time in Europe), and noticed locals and travellers alike sitting on the steps of fountains, eating their lunch, drinking whatever, reading books, or just fooling around, and how many times I've been rushing past going somewhere, doing something (always working), and thinking how nice it would be to be able to stop and sit on the steps of a fountain sometime... to be on holidays, or just to be taking life more slowly. Just to be living the kind of life that allows one to stop and sit on the steps of a fountain. Because it's not that I don't have the opportunities. I probably see more fountains in piazzas than most people. I definitely see more fountains than roses when I travel. So 'sitting on the steps of a fountain' is going to be my 'stopping to smell the roses'. My way of measuring the pace of my life, of keeping my work-life balance in check. Because now... well, it's a little out of whack. So, how often do you take time out to sit on the steps of a fountain when you travel?


Felice said...

believe it or not, one of my favourite past-times is watching the motley of people in airports! i don't know if that is similar to your smelling roses concept. :)

Lara Dunston said...

Hi Felice

I guess so... if you take time to hang out and relax in airports and watch the world go by, and not rush around buying duty free :)

Thanks for commenting!

Black Women in Europe said...

I like people watching and fountains provide that opportunity.

I hope to return to Trevi Fountain in Rome with a group of black women from around the world:

I would also love to get to Dubai! What's the best way to people watch there?

jen laceda said...

B.C. (Before child) = all the time.
Now = never. But will try to do so more frequently. Thanks for reminding me about what's important, but so often neglected.

Terence said...

BWiE, the best place to people-watch in Dubai is the cafes, whether it be in the souqs, a local neighborhood or even a mall if you find the right cafe.

Lara Dunston said...

Hi BWiE - definitely agree with Terry, but cafes in shopping malls are also good in Dubai, not that I would recommend malls in other countries, but in Dubai, it's fascinating to watch the local Emiratis - the girls are just beautiful, and the guys are pretty handsome too! Hotel bars are also good - completely different crowd of course - but then you realise how multicultural Dubai is.

Let us know when you're in town, won't you? Also do a search on my blog here and you'll find guides to Dubai.

Hi Jen - but I often see families sitting by a fountain eating sandwiches, in some places kids running through the fountains playing...

mindtriptraveler said...

Was the above photo taken in Bologna?

If so, my husband and I sat there eating our gelatos on our last trip to Italy. We just sat and people watched.

Whenever we travel, we like to find places to just sit and relax and talk. Not talk about what we should see next or our dinner plans or anything related to our trip, but just about whatever. We prefer not to rush from to museum to museum like chickens with our heads cut off.

Too often people travel to places and can tell you what they've seen (museums, churches, castles) but they can't tell you about what they experienced.