And, I'm back!
After three weeks touring Iceland, Norway and the UK, my love and I have returned home. The luggage has been unpacked and stowed away, the laundry is done, and 5K+ camera images have been uploaded to the server ready for editing. I have learned that re-entry to my ordinary world and life is a thing best done gently. So, though the plane landed me back home six days ago, I have taken my time to return to regularly scheduled programming.
|Reykjavik Iceland - Solfar (Sun Voyager)|
It was an amazing adventure, but over the last few days, a sense of despair has been growing. Tourism is ruining too many places. It is indeed a fine and wonderful thing that so many can travel so far, so fast. But the impact of this on too many of the beautiful places on this earth is humongous. What may be an economic boost for a community can quickly morph into an infrastructure nightmare. It's worrisome to me that my penchant for travel might contribute to the ruin of the very sites I desire to experience.
Take Geiranger Fjord for instance.
The village has a population of 250, but between May and September 800,000 to 1 million tourists arrive, most by cruise ship. Narrow roads clogged with tour buses, dock area a mass of humanity all jostling for souvenirs and in line to use the toilets.
One of my biggest thrills of the trip was kayaking in Geiranger Fjord. I loved every minute of it then, but now some of that joy has been diminished.
I suppose the good news is that the Norwegian government is taking steps to preserve this UNESCO site and other fjords. Cruise ship restrictions are coming. That will improve the health of the fjord itself, but will it stop the masses of people?
Westminster Abbey in London served up my greatest disappointment.
I carry a memory of its majesty and profound peace from a visit twenty-two years ago. But last Monday afternoon, I was confronted by a mob scene. Had I not purchased tickets beforehand, we'd have been in line in the blazing sun for close to two hours. Once inside, (no photos allowed!), the only option was to move along with the crowd. Gone was any sense of sacred space, any room for awe, its heartbeat drowned out by the noise of too many people. I'm glad that twenty-two years ago, my daughter and I took the time to do brass rubbings in the Abbey.
|This was taken in the cloisters, away from the crowds.|
I'm not going to stop traveling, but I now think that I will be far more careful in my planning, mindful of the impact of my presence in faraway places. I am but a sojourner in this world. And it is still a privilege to see what I can, when I can, as long as I can.
©2018 April Hoeller