One question often comes up when I talk European travel with others – “Is it safe to drink the water?” They mean it in the most practical sense. They don’t want to get diarrhea. I answer of course in the affirmative. It is perfectly safe in Europe to drink the water. But there is more to it. I see in that question and it’s answer a metaphor for travel itself. Drink the water!
When you get to a place, get all in! Get out on your own two feet and look around. Look at everything. Notice the colors, notice the light, notice the sky and the people and the trees. Smell it. Hear it. Taste it. Touch it. Be out in it and be a part of it. Take note of the big picture and the smallest of details. Stand back and take in the big important building, then get up to it and put your hand on it. Feel its texture, its solidity, its coolness to the touch. Wherever you are get out and watch the sun rise. Stay out and watch the moonrise. Listen to the local laughter, the local dialect, the local language. Eat the local food, buy a local flower, ride the local bus.
Good travel is rich experience. Doing nothing but sticking to the side of a guide charging along at a hurried pace in order to get the essential tourist sights seen is hardly a rich experience. Taking some time to just be in a place. Sure, get all you can from the guide, but do stop and be still. Don’t just pass through. Be there for a bit. Stop. Drink the water!