Traveling can be a wonderfully enriching, yet incredibly jarring experience. Certain types of travel can lack authenticity. Every season numerous tour groups whisk hoards of people from one UNESCO site to another, dine at restaurants with English menus, and never really see or experience the underbelly of a place.
Independent travelers – like my husband and me – are in a constant pursuit to see and experience what lies beneath. Sometimes we never really find it, and completing a simple task (like buying a tube of toothpaste) can feel so difficult all one wants to do is lay in bed and watch 30 Rock from her laptop.
And then there are places that remind you why you travel. Why, even though deep down you’re a homebody who loves her sofa, you willingly strap everything you own to your back and migrate frequently from one place to another. You know that the simplest of tasks are about to become increasingly difficult. But you love it. And you don’t really know why.
One visit to the Dordogne in the Aquitaine region of France reminded me in the midst of my love/hate relationship with traveling why I fucking love it so much.
It’s that place. The home of 19,000+-year-old Magdalenian renderings and ancient castles carved out of stone. Visually, the Dordogne appears to be the inspiration of every fairytale ever told. I don’t know what memory is best: shopping at the farmers market and sampling all the delicious regional foods one belly could possibly hold, or finding my own piece of serenity on a canoe floating down the Dordogne river.
People can say what they want about the French, but if I had a choice in the genetic make-up I now possess, this is who – and where – I would want to be.
Here’s a visual glimpse of life in Dordogne captured by my camera lens: