Monday, 23 July 2018

Monday Moanings - July 23, 2018

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.

Molde, Norway

©2018 April Hoeller


  1. Excellent point and part of the reason I find I have little desire to travel extensively now. I've been blessed to see a lot and to even live in Cuenca, Ecuador (a UNESCO city) for two years. But so many things just what they have been built up to be...our mind embellishes, influenced by photos and travel articles. Now I would rather sit in nature somewhere, soaking up the peace and quiet.

    (shared this post on my social media)

    1. Please see below for my reply to your comment, Donna. I'm not sure how it ended up being a separate comment instead of a reply to you. Blame it on jet lag.
      Best wishes.

  2. There is always winter travel. Different, less light hours, but it's the only way of visiting certain places and connect with them, free of mobs.

    1. True, Jon. It is unusual for us to travel in high season, but this opportunity was too good to pass up. Winter indeed would present fewer mobs, but the issue of the cost of intense tourism on the sites and cities remains something to bear in mind.
      Thanks so much for keeping up with me.

  3. Thank you, Donna. The beauty and wonder is still there, but it has been overrun by tourists and all the trappings that come with popularity.
    Pictures alone are not the whole story. One day, beyond our footsteps, perhaps there will be that Star Trek holodeck experience that will allow folks to experience times and places with all our senses, to be there without actually being there. Very cool!