Weekend Travel Inspiration – Ashley Montagu

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Weekend Travel Inspiration Montagu

I think one of the main reasons I’m so addicted to travel is the surprise factor. I’m constantly surprised how the same and yet how remarkably different we are as people, as nations. Maybe that is the main culprit in my not really wanting, and therefore, just blatantly ignoring any planning past buying a ticket to get to X. I love surprise! It makes me happy!

The silliest and tiniest things amaze me. I’m fascinated by people, and of course people are unpredictable. I was ecstatic when a Swiss farmer invited me to the morning milking. His wife, the proprietor of the inn we were staying in, took such good care of us. She was genuninely interested in our plans, how things went, and gave us such a warm welcome. Then the next thing I know I’m drinking homemade alcohol after the cows were milked at 6:30 in the morning. Yep, that was a surprise!

Along the same lines, we were so surprised while driving down the Dalmatian coast in Croatia when we came across a family cooking lamb and pig on the spit.  We spent the majority of the afternoon, eating, touring the kitchen, talking to our table neighbors and the family that runs the place.  Little did I know that with all of Croatia’s gems, this is the one memory I cherish the most from our trip.

Of course food always seems to surprise me, mostly in a good way.  I cannot get over what people love to eat in their countries.  From the cricket girls in Cambodia to the insects on a stick in Beijing, we’re always amazed.  One of the foods that Jim and I always talk about is Mongolian Khuurshuur.  A fried dumpling made of horsemeat, we devoured every bite and could have eaten more.  We weren’t as thrilled with the famous durian fruit of Southeast Asia, but I could see how the taste may grow on you.  I’m not saying we’ve loved every new food we’ve tried, but we definitely are always on the lookout for a tasty surprise.

Some other happy surprises we’ve come across in our travels are the time we realized that Montenegro was an easy day trip from Dubrovnik and quickly added that to our itinerary, or the time that we went to a proboscis monkey sanctuary and the alpha male jumped right over my head, or the time when we were exploring a new city in Poland and had the absolute time of our lives hunting for gnomes.  Travel just constantly surprises me and it really, really makes me happy.

Oh by the way, it’s cow time in the Alps.  For about a month in early fall, the cows are brought down from the highest peaks and decorated then paraded through town.  If a cow parade doesn’t make you happy then what will?

How has traveling surprised you?

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Weekend Travel Inspiration Montagu




  1. As you know, I particularly love the cows coming down from the mountains having seen it in Bern, Switzerland. The surprise factor and serendipity are the things that we value so much when we travel. You can organise until the cows come home (aren’t I funny today) or accept that these unexpected and unplanned parts of your journey are the most memorable ones.

  2. OH my gosh I particularly love the huge cow bells around the cows necks! Hmm traveling constantly surprises me but I am completely struggling to think of examples!

  3. Agreed. So many of my favorite travel moments were the surprises (like the things that were on sticks in Beijing – but it wasn’t the insects that surprised me the most, but rather the sheep penis on a stick. BTW-I love the featured photo and the quote today.

  4. My favorite travel surprise was looking up from reading in the bathroom to see a vervet monkey staring at me across the room in South Africa. The little guy had snuck in through the open door when we weren’t looking. We made eye contact and off he ran!

  5. You’ve pretty much summed up why I like to travel! For me it’s the “surprise” of exploring a new place. I may set out to see a particular historical building or whatever, but then, if I have the time, I end up on all sorts of sidetracks either before or after seeing the historical building. “Ooh, I wonder where that stairway leads to!” And so on. It’s fun!

  6. Decorated cows being paraded definitely makes me smile. Travel is all about the unexpected and I too have amazing memories from the smallest or strangest things, often centred around food.

  7. I like the cows – they’re so cute! – but I love that quote! I feel that way about certain places we’ve visited – they’ve seized us; left indelible marks on our lives and changed us for the better. The quest for more moments, more places, more experiences that seize us is the very reason we travel. Great inspiration – thanks for sharing!

  8. Couldn’t agree more! It is amazing how similar but different we all are! Part of what makes us human. Some of the places we have really enjoyed in our travels are hanging out with the locals doing something they think is normal, but we think is fantastic! Like an afternoon drinking rice wine in a local village in Vietnam, or watching the Candombe practice in Montevideo. You have to allow time for the unexpected. Sometimes these are the best bits of travel.

  9. The beautiful surprises always come with engaging with local people isn’t it? Like you, I’ve always had good memories of a place when I get to experience the kindness of strangers to a lost, hungry or bored tourist. It will always create a big impact on the whole travel experience itself. The world is a wonderful place full of kind people. 🙂

  10. The cow parade is so cute! I can’t get over the size of the cow bells. Different safety standards in different countries always amaze me – from the hyper vigilance of some countries to the lackadaisical kids will be kids attitude of other countries. For example, on the cliff walk coastal walk along many of the towns in the Costa Brava, there were parts with no guide rails – that never would’ve happened in the USA. Some dumbo would’ve gone off-piste, hurt themselves and then sued the park or municipality for not having guide rails when it’s clear that it’s dangerous and you shouldn’t do it.

  11. Oh, you have some pretty cool stories! I think I do not want to have a travel memory related to a proboscis monkey (how crazy is that!). I had enough with monkeys checking out my earrings (like touching them and inspecting them) in Panama.

  12. I like surprises, too. I’m a bit of an over-planner, so I have to keep in mind how much I enjoy the serendipitous experiences and just relax. When I did a Malaysia booth at the our Texas school’s Multicultural Fair, I was surprised how many kids decided to taste durian candy immediately after I described it as the stinkiest fruit on earth. Watching the expressions on their faces was priceless. Some of them couldn’t get to a rubbish bin fast enough, and a few actually enjoyed it to come back for more.

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