By Dr. Jessie Voigts
I have both written and published many articles about cultural travel. Cultural travel is important to intercultural understanding, as it allows you to dig deeply into a place and truly explore the culture. I’d like to share a few of my favorite posts on cultural travel – one from a student in our Youth Travel Blogging Mentorship Program, several from editors at Wandering Educators, and a few that I penned. Take a look at eight of my favorites…
The Baltics via cruise. Austin Weihmiller, one of our teen travel blogging students at Wandering Educators, writes compellingly about the culture of cruising – and how you can take advantage of visiting deeply cultural places, exploring them, and then heading back on board to decompress.
Helsinki, oh Helsinki. I don’t know how to describe you. The Fins are some of the nicest people I’ve ever met. Shy at first, but if you get them talking, you’ll find a smart, funny new friend. By the water, in the old harbor, is a market selling everything from fresh berries and meat to mementos and other keepsakes. Somewhere amidst the fishy smelling stalls is a large tent with an industrial grill. Three little blondes behind the grill, cooking freshly caught Salmon, reindeer meatballs, and veggies. Oh. My. God. Amazing! The locals and fishermen were eating at the little place, a sure sign it had to be good. The Salmon was so fresh, meatballs juicy, and veggies full of taste and spices. It was one of the best meals we had in the Baltics. Helsinki is also great for shopping. If you need something, clothes, shoes, whatever, Helsinki has got it in five different colors, and six different designs.
Created by Jennifer and David Raezer, Approach Guides encompass the whole cultural experience of a place, whether it is Ancient Buddhist Caves in India and China, the Stupa Form’s Transformation over Time, Islamic Cairo, Ancient Mediterranean Mosaics: Connecting the Dots, or Buon Appetito! Italian Food Guide. Each guide delves into the subject, truly exploring it (and making you want to GO THERE NOW). Perfect for the thinking traveler, Approach Guides are one of the best travel guides I’ve ever found.
Jennifer notes that Approach Guides are travel guidebooks that focus on cultural sites in Italy, India, China, Southeast Asia and the Middle East.
Our guides are unique in that they don’t just list names and dates, but rather draw connections between sites and explain how political, cultural and religious influences contributed to the development of each site. When you place a site into this type of context, the characteristics that make it unique can be appreciated, and it becomes truly alive.
Note: Check out all the Approach Guides (Only available in digital) on a dedicated Amazon page.
Amitabha Stuba in Sedona. One of our Editors, Megan Aronson, lives in Arizona. When she wrote about Touching the Sacred at the Amitabha Stupa in Sedona, at Wandering Educators, I felt as if I was almost there with her…
I believe it should be a requirement that if you come to Sedona, AZ, you have to visit the Amitabha Stupa before leaving. No matter what your faith, religion, or beliefs in a higher power may or may not be, this is a place to reconnect with yourself and others, and it is a sight to be seen, and felt.
Visiting the Amitabha Stupa also offers a rare educational opportunity for adults and children alike, exploring the goodwill and tidings of Eastern culture in an unlikely place – the middle of the American Southwest.
Irish History. When we were in Ireland, one of our best afternoons was spent exploring history in County Kerry, which I wrote about here at A Traveler’s Library.
Imagine Ireland in a time of great change, both political and religious. There was great social inequality as well as religious persecution. In times like these, great men arise. And indeed, the story of Daniel O’Connell is an example of the times and a personality coming together to create great social change.
His house, Derrynane House, is a public museum situated on 120 hectares, right on the Ring of Kerry. It is run by Ireland’s OPW, Office of Public Works. Derrynane House is open from April through November, and there is a small charge to enter (or you can use your Heritage Ireland card, which has discounts at a plethora of historic spots). While you can’t take photos inside, you can definitely take them outside – of the slate grey house, the vast gardens in which O’Connell took so much pride, and of the beach.
Living History in Culloden, Scotland. Another one of my very favorite travel days was spent living history in Culloden, Scotland , another experience I shared at A Traveler’s Library.
Imagine the moors of the Scottish Highlands – it’s a rainy, misty day, with a bit of a chill in the air. The sunken bogs are wreathed in fog, and human noise is eerily absent – just a raven’s caw in the air. You almost feel as if you’ve stepped back in time – maybe you have?
You’re at Culloden, the site of the battle that changed the course of Scottish, British – well, truly, world history. On April 16, 1746, the Jacobite army fought the British army, to reclaim the throne of Britain for Bonnie Prince Charlie. It was an incredibly uneven battle – the Jacobites weren’t fully prepared, were starving and cold. A surprise night attack plan failed, and in the day, the exhausted Jacobite soldiers surged to their death.
The Place to Always Visit. I also wrote here, about the one place you should visit when you travel, to dig deeply into a culture, wherever you are.
While I thrive on literary travel, there’s another sort of literary travel that few people think to do. However, whenever I travel and do this, it’s usually the highlight of my trip.
One of the first things I do, when I visit someplace new, is to head to the library. Visiting libraries when you travel is the best way to live like a local.
Cuba. Sue Tyler took a trip to Cuba this year, and explored the culture with us at Wandering Educators that she discovered while on a group tour – and she learned to roll cigars!
Because of the license agreement with the American government, our trip centered around learning about Cuban culture and meeting and talking with residents. Luckily for us, our travel director was able to translate for us flawlessly. Whenever I think of Cuba, I think of endless white sandy beaches, vibrant cultural history and, of course, cigars. It’s no surprise then that the highlight of the trip for me was going to a tobacco farm in Viñales and talking with the farmer and his family.
Note: To read the entire article on any of these fascinating topics, click on the link and fly away. Photos accompanying this article are credited where they are found in the original articles.