“To my mind, the greatest reward and luxury of travel
is to be able to experience everyday things as if for the first time,
to be in a position in which almost nothing is so familiar it is taken for granted.”
– Bill Bryson
One of my favorite travel authors is Bill Bryson. With his wonderful mix of detailed observations, keen wit, and chuckle-inducing profanity, he’s never failed to amuse me. While we were living in London I read his Notes From a Small Island and was immediately hooked.
So it’s no surprise that I love his quote above. Traveling to new places puts a fresh spin on your perspective. You see things through different lenses. The ordinary becomes extraordinary! Here’s a great example:
At home we have a lovely teapot that we use regularly. For us it’s an everyday object, and if truth be told, we take it for granted.
A few weeks ago, while roaming the streets of Vilnius, Lithuania, we came upon these teapots … cut in half … stuck on a wall.
The shop, Gurman’s House of Taste sells tea … and teapots. It uses a striking advertising approach that works. These everyday objects definitely got our attention.
So we started looking closely at all the affixed teapots and realized we couldn’t just take them for granted because they began to tell a story.
It turns out that the map on this teapot is a map of Vilnius (Wilna) first published in 1581. The name Wilna was used in older English, German, French and Italian language publications when the city was part of Poland. Hmmm, very interesting.
And this beautiful teapot fits the “From the plantation to your cup of tea!” advertising slogan that used to be so popular. You may notice that the tea picker is holding a card with the letters IKI which seems out of place until you realize she’s probably touting the IKI retail chain that has over 250 supermarkets in Lithuania and Latvia.
And the close resemblance of the tea picker to this woman we encountered working on a tea plantation in Ella, Sri Lanka, is downright uncanny!
Then, if you leap across Europe and Asia, ford the Pacific Ocean, and land in Zillah, Washington, USA you will encounter an entirely different type of teapot.
Under the heading of “novelty architecture” and “roadside attraction,” the Teapot Dome Service Station never served tea … just gas! It was built in 1922 as a reminder of the Teapot Dome Scandal, a nasty “bribery and oil” affair that became the low point of President Harding’s administration. Those folks in Zillah certainly had a wry sense of humor.
Wow! That really IS a round-the-world tour inspired by an everyday teapot … and some new perspectives.
So consider what Bill Bryson said and go “traveling” today. And by travel I mean go somewhere different and see things anew. The Exotic could be as close as an unfamiliar part of your town, or a short drive away, or another continent.
Always Searching for the Exotic,