One of our travel goals for 2013 is to “See the World with a sense of wonderment“. For me this partially means traveling like a 12 year old. So looking at travel and the world with the fascination that children seem to be so good at.
Mundane and practical does not have to mean boring and ugly
This is the aspect of “wonderment” that I want to look at in this post.
Ctrl-Alt-Travel is about looking at the details of places, beyond the post card pictures, to the place and the people. I have written several times that I really like doors. How they are both functional and beautiful at the same time. I also have a thing for post boxes for kind of the same reason. This idea that mundane things can be just as beautiful as the unusual ones.
Yup, starting with a collage of stuff in the street. A manhole cover from Baden-Baden. Water meters in Barcelona and a blue one from Prague. A no-dogs sign from Dunedin, New Zealand. How cool are these? So mundane and most people just walk over them without a thought or even the glimmer of a thought, and yet they have a beauty to them. At least to me they do. This is part of what I mean about looking at the world with wonderment.
Colors and Shapes
I love looking through markets, because they often are not meant for tourists. The sights and the sounds of a place and its people come alive. To tie into the theme of beautiful but mundane, there is beauty in the hand written signs and the patterns of the vegetables stacked for display. The first picture is of my local market in Freiburg. The second is of a stack of eggs from Kleinmarkt in Frankfurt. Both are fascinating to me in the patterns the stuff makes.
Maybe I am a bit odd, but I really like patterns. I like seeing things lined up, some symmetric and some asymmetric. So when I saw these chairs stacked up in front of a restaurant in Brussels, I was drawn to it. I know it is just a stack of chairs, but there is something about it. There is even a hidden story to it too. Like how did the person stacking them get it like that, and how will they get them back again?
I was out at the train station in Freiburg for a very early train to Frankfurt to pick up Ali off a flight at one point. I noticed these shoes on a bench on the train platform. There was no one around, especially no one barefoot that I saw. There are all night clubs in the train station, so I imagine they came from a club goer. It is just a pair of forgotten shoes, but I am curious to the story behind them. Who takes they shoes off and forgets them?
A lot of things in our lives are there for their attractive qualities. Art abounds. Travel brings its own wondrous natural beauty of landscapes and purposely beautiful architecture. Then there are things that are in our lives for purely practical reasons. Part of my goal of traveling with a sense of wonderment is to see these things in a beautiful way.
A rope is tied the way it is for strength. The purpose is to keep the rope there and hold up something else. The intricacy though is fascinating. This one is from a Rabello boat cruise in Portugal.
Check out this mooring cleat in the Greek Islands. It is a big iron cleat sunk into the concrete pier. Absolutely nothing beautiful about it, right? Well maybe, but I found the colors pretty cool. The yellows as they fade to rust showing the time and exposure to the sea. How many boats has it seen? How many times has it been repainted?
This is one of those traffic barriers that rips out your tires if you drive over the wrong direction. Destructively practical, but from a low angle the pattern of the teeth is pretty cool. The paint as well, like the mooring cleat, struck me as beautiful.
A lot of this whole exercise is about perspective. Looking at things in a different way. Some of this mental and some of these is just getting a different physical perspective. The traffic barrier is a part of this. The patterns look a lot different from a low angle.
This is a bench. One of many along the main street in Freiburg. Last summer when I went taking pictures of Bachle around town, I had got myself into looking at things from different perspectives and liked this look. Benches are practical as well as often painted or styled to be beautiful. And even though these particular ones are pretty standard, even they are neat from the right angle.
Sometimes it is just beautiful without a reason
So yeah, it’s a green painted box. I found it in one of the Cinque Terre towns a few years ago. I like it because of the famous place I found it. Really, in a town where the big sights are everywhere, why am I taking pictures of old green boxes? Who knows, I just thought it looked cool.
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Do you see beauty in the simple and mundane? Or is travel all about the postcard sights?