On my first day at Geneva, I wanted to see the Madeleine Church. As a typical tourist, I got lost quite quickly. As a typical man, I absolutely refused to ask for directions. So I spent several hours wandering around old town trying to navigate my way around.
One nice thing about traveling is that it is very easy to spot out many things that are slightly different; and anything that is mildly interesting becomes utterly fascinating. So as I wandered about Old Town in Geneva, I began noticing things. I found a merry-go-round with fairy tales where the little mermaid was blonde instead of ginger. I saw this tiny cannon in a side window and wondered what it did to deserve to be locked away (my bet is on high treason). I’ve noticed a row of lamps in a side alleyway, where one was different and it reminded me of the Doctor Seuss quote “why blend in when you’re born to stand out.” I walked down a side road, despite initially thinking it would lead to a dead end, but ended up finding a surprisingly beautifully tranquil pond placed right in front of a protestant reformation museum. Although, had I read the signs along the way, I would’ve known that the road was directing me to the protestant reformation museum.
I also found a book shop, which I spent way too much time in. This is where I found a book on Marx placed right beside one on economics. I can’t read French, but I wondered if the economics book might have been slightly prejudiced against capitalism. I’ve taken time to look at book covers. I found it interesting that some book covers were different from the North American editions, like And the Mountains Echoed, and the Casual Vacancy, but many weren’t, including: The Great Gatsby, Dan Brown’s Inferno, the Fault in Our Stars, and George R.R. Martin’s books. I also thought that it must look weird walking around a book store taking pictures on an ipad. Although, in retrospect, this was probably less strange and definitely much less creepy than the time when I was watching the carousel full of young children go around.
However, being lost could only be fun for so long. Eventually, when I finally did ask somebody for directions, it ended up I was right beside Madeleine Church. It was also closed for whatever reason, with giant signs telling me entry was not possible. He suggested that I visit the cathedral instead, which was also quite an interesting sight.
Yet, as I walked around Old Town in Geneva, I’ve noticed that I didn’t really care about when or if I got to Madeleine Church. Normally when I travel I like to seek out the major tourist attractions first and try only to go directly to them. For me, somebody who likes to plan everything down to the dot, being lost and simply observing what was around me was a nice thing to try out. Typically I would walk past book shops or shop windows because I would assume that I would be able to see these things at home. Yet, after looking around, I don’t regret spending time looking around and finding new things.
And isn’t that part of the reason why we travel? To explore something that we haven’t before; and in the midst of our journey, we hopefully realize something new about ourselves.
I’ve realized that it is important to ask for directions.