Enough introspection for the time being; I promised you travel and books and its time to get started.
Regarding the former, I prefer to wander off the beaten path. I visit gardens, in order of importance, for the sensual experience, for inspiration, and to learn something.
I want to stroll, absorb, think, sit, contemplate the view and talk to the people who work there. If I want to turn back and look at something again I don’t want to have to push my way through a crowd all going the other way. For this reason I will probably never go to Monet’s garden or the Eden project in Cornwall. Not that I wouldn’t love to go to Monet’s garden, but so many people have told me how they were rushed through it, I doubt I would enjoy the process.
Guided tours are another problem, mainly because of the cost. I’m sure it’s lovely to have everything taken care of for you, and to have knowledgeable people offering insight. Gardens that aren’t open to the general public are sometimes included, which does make me drool with envy. However, with a little bit of effort in the planning stage I can save money by following the itineraries of the pricey tours, using public transport (or renting a car if I’m brave enough), and staying in cheaper accommodation. Bed and Breakfast, Farm Stays and Youth Hostels are all good value. Out of the somewhat sealed bubble of a professionally organized tour, I get to interact with local people who often direct me to less well known but interesting locations. At the end of the day I am still supporting the gardens.
I would love to hear about trips you have taken and gardens you’ve discovered.
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Next post I promise we will actually go somewhere.