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the purpose of a trip


旅の目的って何だろう? その土地を知るため、まだ見たことのない新しい景色に出会うため、日常から離れるため…… 人それぞれ、いろいろな目的を持って旅に出ると思う。もしくは、特に目的もなくふら~っと旅に出ることもあるかもしれない。私が最近経験した二つの旅から感じたことをシェアしたいと思う!

What is the purpose of travel? Is it to get to know the place, to encounter new sceneries you’ve never seen before, or to get away from daily life? Everyone who goes on a trip travels for a different purpose, and sometimes that purpose may be to travel with no concrete purpose in mind. I’m going to share what I felt through two trips which I took recently.


Firstly, I’ll tell you about my trip to Porto, a city in Portugal. Portugal is located in the westernmost part of the Iberian Peninsula, so I always wanted to go there if I ever had the chance of studying abroad in Spain. I have been studying in Spain from September, and I finally got the chance! I decided to go to Porto because it is close to Salamanca where I am living and I could visit Porto as a weekend trip. For this trip, I researched places I should go and planned with the goal of hopping around tourist spots.

その中の一つで、ポルトに行くなら絶対に行きたい場所があった。それは、世界一美しい本屋と言われている「レロ書店」(Livraria Lello)。大学の友達に教えてもらった本屋で、本も本屋も大好きな私は、友達がその写真を見せてくれた時、とてもワクワクしたのを今でも覚えている。私にとって本屋に行く楽しみは、新しい本に出会うこと。私は写真集や雑誌、料理、旅の本が特に好き。こういう本は言葉が分からなくても楽しめるし、その土地の本屋だからこそ置いてある本に出会うことも楽しみにしてた。でも実際に「レロ書店」を訪れて私が感じたのは、興ざめと、ちょっとがっかりという気持ちだった。

Out of these tourist spots that I wanted to visit, there was a place where I definitely didn’t want to leave Porto without seeing -- the Livraria Lello, which is known for being the world’s most beautiful bookstore. My friend from university told me about this place, and even now I remember being really excited when she showed me a picture of the library because I love books and bookstores. For me, the pleasure of going to a bookstore comes from encountering new books. I especially like photo books, magazines, and books about cooking and traveling. These kinds of books are enjoyable even if you can’t read the language they are written in, and I was looking forward to see some books that were unique to the bookstore’s location. But in reality, I was disappointed and lost interest when I visited the bookstore.


On the first day of the trip, I searched only the bookstore’s address and shop hours and headed there. I found a long line of people waiting to enter in front of the bookstore. In addition to that, it was raining, so I gave up and decided to go the next day. And the next day, there was a long line already although I got there before the store opens. I was surprised because I didn’t know that it was such a popular tourist spot.


After waiting for about 30 minutes in line, I finally entered the bookstore. The interior of the store was really beautiful. Books lined the shelves all the way toward the ceiling. The staircase which is situated in the center of the building was connected to the second floor, drawing a curve. The stained glass on the ceiling was also beautiful. I was purely impressed with the interior, but at the same time, I was surprised at the number of people who were waiting to take a picture at the stairs. I had to wait for the people who were taking pictures and had to be careful not to get in the picture when I was going up to the second floor. There were books not only in Portuguese, but also in English and Spanish, so I was excited to look for a book which I could read, but that excitement only lasted for a moment. I wanted to relax and browse through books, but if I stand and read a book in the narrow passageways, I would obstruct the way, so I ended up not being able to browse at my own pace.


A place being established as a tourist spot and being visited by many people can be one of the elements which supports the maintenance of the beauty of the bookstore. But I felt a little disappointed to think that its role as a bookstore, the charm which only that bookstore has, and the enjoyment from the books which can’t be felt in any other place would be lost if most people come only to take pictures. Just like what happened in the bookstore, the routine of seeing what you want to see during a trip, taking “insta worthy” pictures and uploading them on instagram is becoming commonplace recently. So I understand that taking pictures can be one of the key elements and pleasures of a trip. But, if the purpose of the trip was to go to a new place, get to know it, and enjoy the moment, I felt that taking pictures to create memories becoming the most important purpose of a trip seems unworthy or wasteful to me. I also think that memories should not be something “to make”, but rather “to remain” inside of me naturally. I feel like traveling with the goal of “making memories” or taking pictures would just result in you having taken photos that are empty of memories and having an “empty” trip.


The second trip was a trip to Hendaye, France. It was a solo trip without a plan to kill time between my scheduled train rides on the way back from Bordeaux where I went to see a friend. This was totally different from my trip to Porto which I went on with a purpose. I just walked around without knowing what there is to visit. As I was walking, I got to a river, which then connected to the sea. I looked at the sea and the wide sky that I could not see in Salamanca, and it reminded me of Kobe where I lived before coming to Spain. Sitting on the bank along the sea and gazing vacantly at the sea, I took a deep breath of the cold air, then I felt my feelings gradually calm down.


There were few tourists and I saw the locals enjoying surfing. After spending time lazily by the sea, I walked towards the station just because I felt like it. Here, no one knew me and wasn’t interested in me, and the weight of the backpack on my back... these things made me feel comfortable. This trip was very short, but my heart felt very fulfilled. The time I spent away from daily life, alone in an unfamiliar place was very calm, and it was exactly what I needed. And Hendaye became one of my favorite places.


My trip to Porto, where I visited tourist spots -- and my trip to Hendaye, which I went on without a plan. These two trips remain in my memory as totally different types of trips.The purpose of trip can change depending on who you go with, and where you go. For me, travel may be something that gives me the time to be apart from my daily life by going to an unknown place seeking something new. What is travel to you ? What do you seek in your trip?

Images by Yuri

Edited by Kiara and Hikari

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