Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Go On or Off the Beaten Path. Be Accomplished and Amazed.

Thursday, July 4, 2019

Go On or Off the Beaten Path. Be Accomplished and Amazed.


We have found ourselves in the midst of droves of tourists, all together admiring the destination we have reached. Like when we were at the Eiffel Tower last October. It is one of those definitely ON the beaten path. We have also found ourselves all alone and deeply inspired by an awesome place, like when we reached the Arctic Circle, after a two-day drive on a dirt road, in Canada’s Yukon. That is one of those definitely OFF the beaten path.


our RV made it to the Arctic Circle

Which one gives us a feeling of more satisfaction as a traveler? How can I compare the two? They are absolutely different experiences. I don't think I can. 

Most of the time, arriving at a touristy destination gives me a feeling of accomplishment, that I have finally reached that place so many others have raved about. Think of the pains we take. For one, it is usually expensive to do so and we might have waited so long to save the dollars we needed, sacrificing plenty. For another, it requires much-advanced planning or you might not even get a chance to see it in the first place.

the Northern Lights over Anchorage, Alaska

Getting to a destination that is off the beaten path also gives us a sense of accomplishment --- most of the time. Think of the risks we take to get there. It might be driving through a dirt road with hardly a trace of civilization for miles like Australia’s Outback, suffering temperatures well below zero at night to catch the Northern Lights, or even climbing Mount Everest at the peril of death.

the Roman Colosseum

More than this sense of accomplishment, we also get the feeling of amazement after reaching a destination. Sometimes, I say, “Wow, that is truly spectacular!” It is much like when I first got a glimpse of the Roman Colosseum that was engineered to current engineering standards almost two thousand years ago. Other times, however, I say, ”What is all the fuss about?” Like when I laid eyes upon the Manneken Pis in Brussels, Belgium. It is the tiny statue of a little boy taking a pee into a pond below (by the way, I found out later it is just a replica). But I didn’t say anything aloud since there was a huge throng around me, seriously angling for a great photo.

Manneken Pis

It is true. Sometimes it is a disappointment that greets me. Like when we walked to see the supposedly largest bas relief in the world, a Confederate Memorial of FULL FIGURES of Jefferson Davis, Robert Lee, and Stonewall Jackson on horseback carved into the Stone Mountain in Georgia. It measures 76 by 158 feet 400 feet above the ground and recessed 42 feet into the mountain. I don’t know why but I thought it was “puny.” That was my exact word. Bill was upset when I kept repeating it the whole time we were there. And he was right. I was only succeeding in destroying our mood.

the Stone Mountain in Atlanta, Georgia

Here's just to explain. I was utterly disappointed because I had seen Mt. Rushmore, the 60-foot high three-dimensional HEADS of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt, and Abraham Lincoln, a scale unbelievably visible for 60 miles in Rapid City, South Dakota. Borglum who created this wonder was originally chosen to do the Confederate Memorial. He had a grander design for the Stone Mountain that was, unfortunately, abandoned. The Confederate Memorial is bigger than Mount Rushmore but the latter projects more because the heads are sculpted out of a rock cliff, not recessed into the mountain. The heads, on the other hand, grandly protrude into the sky.

Bill climbing the Salt Mountain
But the disappointment is even much bigger when I go through all the trouble and/or take the many risks I have to take off the beaten path. Like the Chigu Salt Mountain in Tainan City, Taiwan. We had to ride the expensive but fast bullet train from Taipei in the north then take the one bus to the outskirts of Tainan. This bus went back at only one specific time, late in the afternoon. The driver, conductor, and passengers didn’t speak any English. One of the comments on the website was this: “Honestly! I had to spend 1 hour and10 minutes into the bus to get there! and the last bus left at 18:10! what for? for a mountain of "salt" black of air pollution... anyway, it's my opinion, but nothing very amazing there!“ The website is now full of similar messages. We pleaded for one of the staff to call for a taxi. We didn't want to wait four hours for that one bus. The driver, noticing we were hungry (there was no food store in the Museum) and unhappy, stopped the taxi, got out, took something out of the trunk and gave us his cookies. If we did not go to the Salt Mountain, we would not have met this wonderful Taiwanese. 

So, would I prefer to go on or off the beaten path? Actually, that should not be the question. I will keep on doing both. It doesn't even matter how much preparation we make. We can never guarantee anything. What matters most is to always have the right attitude. If we have the right one, then the sense of accomplishment and feeling of amazement will surely be there.

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82 comments:

  1. Whether you go on or off-the-beaten-path, you should feel accomplished and amazed!

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  2. I've enjoyed seeing things both on and off the beaten path. I agree that attitude is important. Also I don't think one should feel compelled to see something just because it's the thing to do or on a bunch of people's must-see lists unless it is something one is genuinely interested in or curious about.

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  3. Heya i am for the primary time here. I came
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  4. Nicely written ! I agree there's not one is more superior over the other. For me, on the beaten path offers me more options, accessibility, to food, entertainments, hotel etc. Off the beaten path may not always be the most convenient, but the memories are much more impactful, and I have more interesting stories to tell =)

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  5. Its so great to head to places off the beaten path! Its more difficult but it is so worth it in the long run! Thank you for sharing!

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  6. I think you're right that the only thing you can control is your attitude. I am reminded of a fable were a series of events shifts from good to bad and back again based on point of view. I fell off my horse (bad), but it kept me from going to war (good). and the chain continues. Attitude is the most important accessory for a traveler.

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  7. I agree with you that both on and off the beaten path are worth doing. I do struggle with the masses of tourists in popular sights...but they are popular for a reason. I was in Istanbul recently and the main sights were really busy. And still, we were able to enjoy the city in a more relaxed way, doing things local people do...

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    Replies
    1. Oh yes. It's all relative. But you can have spectacular exoeriences in each!

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  8. I suppose all you can do is research and enjoy what you can. Just because someone else likes a place, doesn't mean it will gel with you. Often it is those accidental moments of serendipity that make for better travel tales afterwards!

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  9. I prefer off the beaten path mostly because I don't like crowds!

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  10. I see so much of myself in this article. I normally go on and off the beaten path and, like you, find that both approaches have their positive and negative sides. But both make our travels even more special and complete.

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    Replies
    1. I am glad. Yes, this is the balance and completeness we seek as travelers.

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  11. We have to agree with your approach of going on and off the beaten path. Being travel bloggers requires a good balance between showcasing subjects that are mainstream, but adding in some out of the ordinary stops.

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  12. You could certainly see your skills in the work you write.
    The sector hopes for even more passionate writers such as you who aren't afraid to say how they
    believe. All the time go after your heart.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Sometimes a popular monument turns out to be disappointing, but I'm always happy to have seen it for myself anyway. And some things that you stumble upon unexpectedly turn out to be the most memorable parts of your travels.

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    Replies
    1. That's the beauty of traveling! Both offer lots opportunities!

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  14. I so much agree with you, whether you go on or off the beaten path, remember to be amazed. I like the salt mountain story in Taiwan where you got to meet the wonderful kind-hearted local during your journey. Sometimes, the places may not be so awesome, but the journey will leave memories forever in our minds and hearts.

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  15. Smart words to live by. I've experienced the same as you! I said the same thing about the Roman Colloseum! I said to myself...That's it? It's so tiny! They made it look so grand in that Gladiator movie and then this? However, when you think about it context back then when that was the biggest thing in existence. You can see just how crazy of an engineering feat it was! So, on or off the beaten path? I'll take both :)

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  16. I always prefer to be off the beaten path, because I don’t like crowds! And because there are no surprises with well-known places - I’ve already seen so many pictures of them that there is often nothing new to explore.

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    Replies
    1. Love both types actually. And love inserting myself into the photo of atouristy place trying to depict the emotion we felt there!

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  17. When one travels, one has to have an open mind and heart no matter where you are ... popular tourist destination or remote off-the-beaten path. Even in the most crowded of destinations, we have found you can discover things that no one else sees, simply by looking.

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  18. Nowadays it is so difficult to get off the beaten path--practically impossible. I was blown away by the pyramids, and disappointed that the Mona Lisa was so small, but I always enjoy traveling and the change of scene that comes with it.

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    Replies
    1. Yes, there are huge changes between on or of-the-beaten paths

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  19. We totally agree, sometimes it's worth it to get off the the tourist path, and sometimes it's not....but you will never know if you don't try right? And the Taiwan story is so true, you wouldn't meet half the awesome people you do, if you don't get off the tourist path!

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    Replies
    1. That's the biggest advantage of traveling off-the-beaten-path.

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  20. You made some good points there. I looked on the internet to
    find out more about the issue and found most individuals will go
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    ReplyDelete
  21. I just couldn't go away your web site prior to suggesting that I extremely loved the standard
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    ReplyDelete
  22. I agree with Michael above. You have to have an open mind and heart no matter where you travel and whether you are on or off the beaten path, your travel memories will be determined more my you attitude toward your experience than the place itself. A fun post - gets you thinking!

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  23. I agree that places exceed our expectations, or disappoint, whether they are on or off the beaten track. There's usually a reason why people go to the on the beaten track places. But sometimes, it's the little things you remember the most like the Taiwanese taxi driver who gave you some cookies!

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  24. Haha! I thought the same thing about Mannekin Pis! I find that l like a combination of both. The way l figure, there is a reason why they are on the beaten path, like the Colosseo but when we visit his family now, we rarely go past the Vatican as the bus to the house passes by there :-).

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  25. I think finding the balance of both is key. You can't go to Paris and NOT see the Eiffel Tower. But if you get a chance to spend several days there, or have the opportunity to go back a few times, then the off-the-beaten-path experiences are top of my list. I feel like you don't really know a place until you can visit several lesser-known sights. ~ Sage Scott, the Everyday Wanderer

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    1. That's a great definition right there ... you can't really know a place until you've been to both on and off the beaten paths.

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  26. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  27. Your style is unique in comparison to other folks I've read stuff from.
    Many thanks for posting when you have the opportunity,
    Guess I will just book mark this site.

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  28. smashing read! :) I think either on or off the beaten path one should be 100% proud of the journey taken. So many can pass through life without risk or and while it ma suit them the road calls to some and it must be followed.

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  29. We do a combo of both too, or spots in between not one or the other. Some of the on the beaten path spots we try to go to off-season if we can which is often allowed us to be successful, but some places it just can't be avoided!

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    Replies
    1. Smart! Off season, do on the beaten path; on season, do on off the beaten path!

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  30. I personally prefer to go both on or off the beaten path. It all depends what I really wish to visit and explore. Probably when you visit for the first time any destination you might not like to miss the most popular and iconic landmark of that destination, like Paris became famous for Eiffel Tower.

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  31. I agree both the familiar and iff the beaten path attractions have their advantages but you are right that going with a sense of adventure is really what makes it worthwhile !

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  32. I agree with you both on and off-beaten path has its own charm. Visiting the on-beaten destination that you have dreamt for long time gives you a feeling of accomplishment and visitng off-beaten destination that very few have visited is an adventure in its own right. Both are similar yet very different and can't be compared.

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  33. Hi Carolina. Love the perspective. It is not about the place, but it is the attitude. It all comes down to attitude. On and off the beaten paths have their own charm. But I prefer ON because of accessibility and convenience. I don't like crowds, but there are on-beaten paths that are not too crowded. Also growing up in one of the rural places in the Philippines, I never thought i will get to travel. So I want to visit those places that I only saw on tv or read in magazines even if they are on-beaten path or touristy.

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    Replies
    1. Same here. But sometimes U get to off the beaten path places and like them,!

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  34. Great post Carolina.

    It's funny that you never know how a place will make you feel, until you arrive and experience it. I tend to go more for the 'off the beaten path' type places, but occasionally I visit somewhere famous and fall in love, despite the crowds.

    It is such a privilege to travel at all, whether it be to famous, or not so famous sights. We have to make the most of our time exploring.

    p.s. I'm glad you had cookies and met nice folks at the mountain of salt. It's a pretty good way to finish an unimpressive day!!

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  35. An interesting post for us travellers to consider. It's so disappointing when you reach a destination and it doesn't match expectations. However, we should try and revel in the journey to get there and not just the destination itself, then perhaps it doesn't matter if it's on or off the beaten path :)

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    Replies
    1. Usually off the beaten path destinations are difficult to travel to so the journey dies not save the destination!

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  36. Such a lovely post. I wish to gain wisdom by my travels when I explore this much. Surely one should keep an open mind and perspective while travelling.

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  37. Having a good attitude is key to enjoying a location, but even if we go without expectations, there's no guarantee we won't be disappointed. Like you, I enjoy going to both kinds of places and try to make the most of every discovery. It is so true that sometimes it is the people, and not the place, that makes all the difference.

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    Replies
    1. That's a new quotation. It's not all about the place. It's also about the people!

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  38. It is best not to keep any expectations on vacations. Social media has ruined the surprise factor and you end up wanting so much more that ultimately disappoints. It is best to enjoy the company of a loved one and enjoy the place.

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  39. Superb, what a weblog it is! This webpage provides useful
    data to us, keep it up.

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  40. I've done both, and I agree. Seeing both ends of the spectrum is amazing. And yes, sometimes it is actually disappointing to see some touted tourist site because it ends up not meeting your expectations.(I felt that way about seeing Plymouth Rock, as it is very small!) But I love all travel experiences!

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    1. Oh yeah, I forgot about that. It even seemed almost fake.!

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  41. Carol, I really loved this article. I guess I'd never really thought about the subject matter that deeply. I'm with you on seeing some of the "giants" and them being a big disappointment. Hard not to ruin it for everyone since we are so travel savvy. ;) I like off-the-beaten path. It always works best for me or proves to be a big leavening lesson.

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  42. I want to do it all! I seek out both iconic sites and off the beaten path unless there's some physical issue that I can't overcome, such as extreme hikes which I can no longer do.

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