Time for the little things while traveling

When traveling, it’s good to take time for the little things that nourish the soul.  Easily said, but not often done.   In the rush of trying to experience an exciting new destination, most travelers are unprepared to pause for those little soul-satisfying moments.

After 15 days in Florence we decided to just take a long, quiet walk along the Arno River with no stops at famous sites.  For us, spending time outside surrounded by greenery nourishes our spirits.

The discovery of one lone poppy seemed magical, but taking the time to look into its interior was as brilliant as it’s flashy red exterior.

We hoped to enjoy the warm, sunny day and maybe see a few birds along the way. As soon as we stepped onto the sidewalk by the river, we looked over the old, stone wall and saw barn swallows swooping and swirling over the greenish-blue water.  We watched a Eurasian moorhen dart under bushes in the thin green strip of land below us along the bank of the river.  We stood patiently waiting and watching.

How could we get down to that lovely strip of narrow land wedged between the stone wall and the river?  We wanted to see everything up close instead of just observing from the sidewalk above.  When we leaned over the wall, we could see a ramp in the distance leading down to a “beach” with sunbathers and the grassy strip of land.  That’s where we headed on a warm day in April.

What a wonderful place! We were in the heart of Florence, Italy, and we only saw a few other people in that large grassy area.

We watched a female mallard headed towards a little stream followed by her three chicks, a hooded crow hanging on a slender tree branch, and a greenfinch in a bush.

As we waded through the tall grass, a web had been spun – just barely discernible. The spider was so small and so still. Was it still alive?

A moment later, we saw the small red dot of a beetle, barely hanging on.  Then we glimpsed another and still another – all on just one plant.

There was more to see than glorious flora and fauna on this land: ugly trash.  We could only imagine that passersby on the sidewalk above tossed juice boxes and food wrappers down.  It was a good time to recall a blog post by Old Plaid Camper read that morning:

“On Earth Day, we all picked up a single piece of trash, some garbage somebody else overlooked or dropped by mistake (because in this story, littering is never deliberate…)  And then we all did the same thing the next day, and the next! One wonderful day, we were unable to find any garbage, because it had all been picked up, and no more had been dropped. The end.”

Inspired by Plaid Camper, we started to pick up the litter.  Why stop at one piece, we thought?

We continued walking to where the strip of land narrowed and ended almost under the Ponte alle Grazie Bridge.  We snapped a photo of the next bridge hanging over the Arno River, the Ponte Vecchio – icons of Florence.

This time our route back to the ramp was along the stone wall with occasional flowers growing up or out of the wall.

We continued our trash pickup and as luck would have it, as we came up the ramp to the sidewalk, a recycling station was just across the street.

We spread out our collection to record with a photo before depositing it all in the appropriate recycle and trash containers.

Who wants to waste a travel minute with so many wonderful new things to see?  We have found that for us, sustained travel is only possible when we balance sightseeing with the quiet soul-satisfying moments.


April 2018


About simpletravelourway

Beth and Joe enjoy simple travel.
This entry was posted in Italy - Other and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to Time for the little things while traveling

  1. You’ve captured exactly why slow travel is the perfect way to visit a place: the balancing act between seeing grand and notable sights versus the more mundane things that make up daily life and even a simple walk in an overlooked area. It keeps it all in perspective. I love the way you two notice all the details (doubtless polished by years of bird-watching) and find the small instances of beauty. Your photo of the flower growing out of the crack in the wall was especially lovely! Anita

    • Thanks so much, Anita! Indeed, it IS a balancing act but only because we have enough time. With only a day or two or six in Florence, a traveler feels compelled to visit so many important and incredible sights. The trip becomes a rush of sightseeing. As soon as our visit turned into a month, we could breathe a sigh of relief and slow down. Its certainly a different way to approach travel. Glad you agree that it’s got a lot to recommend as a way of balancing what we see.

  2. Ishita says:

    So so true! I especially love the last line of the post.

  3. This is exactly why your blog title is so perfect – what you do is always simple travel, your way! Cheers – Susan

  4. Taking time out is definitely important when we’re travelling. It would be dreadful to end up exhausted and not enjoying anything. This is a lovely walk and you made a contribution to the beauty of the area too.

  5. Off back to Laos for you two – your new found skills can be put to really good use 24×7

  6. plaidcamper says:

    Lovely walk – and you’ve made it all the better for the next lucky walkers along that section – really enjoyed reading about a warm spring day in Florence. If there, we’d finish the walk by stopping for an espresso and a little something in a cafe. We’ve just got back from an Italian store and cafe up near the airport here in Calgary. The coffee and produce are great, but the views out the window, not so much!

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