The Art of Slow Travel

Summer is the time of year we start thinking of Greece. It’s the season when the heat rising off DC’s streets slows us down a notch and we start craving a more European lifestyle and white wine in the afternoon. We seek out cafes that remind us of Santorini – places like Zorba’s Café in Dupont Circle on four o’clock on a Saturday and Café Leopold stashed away in Cady’s Alley beneath a hectic Georgetown and the oh-so-Euro sidewalk café outside DC’s Willard Hotel. Though no longer students, we still instinctively let our guard down and move more slowly the moment school’s out. We become our summer selves, the version we’ve always liked best, ever since we were kids.

The adult version of my summer self is the person who could live happily and slowly on Greece’s island of Santorini. It’s been two years since we visited Santorini and it’s someplace that’s wedged its way into my thoughts every day since. What still resonates about Greece is that we traveled slowly there. Rather than cram it all in, we moved minimally and naturally through the island heat like we lived there. We chose just two towns on Santorini in which to spend our honeymoon, and though we saw some sights, Greece is packed with landmarks I never visited.

Just as the Slow Food movement highlights the importance of taking time to appreciate the health and pleasures of the food we eat, lesser-known slow movements have carved out their own deliberate spaces in today’s fast-paced culture. The slow travel movement, it turns out, is among them. It’s a movement I didn’t realize I was part of, not until summer came back around. I equate it with my summer self and the sun setting on the outdoor cafes of Santorini.

“Better far off to leave half the ruins and nine-tenths of the churches unseen and to see well the rest; to see them not once but again and again; to watch them, to learn them, to live with them, to love them, til they have become a part of life and life’s recollections.”

-Augustus Hare

What’s your travel style? Do you prefer slow travel to a vacation with a full itinerary? Do you have any advice for traveling more slowly through a typical day in your hometown? 

Originally published June 12, 2013.

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