There is an undeniable rhythm to travel, particularly slow travel, that I adore. The clickety-clack of a train speeding along rails, the gentle (and sometimes not so gentle) bobbing of a boat, and my favourite, the clippety-clop of a horse. The rhythm of air travel is less evident; the pockets of turbulence more staccato than anything else, although I suppose you could find rhythm in the repetition of taking your shoes off and putting them back on, putting your toiletries in a plastic baggie and taking them back out again.
However you reach your destination; once you’re there, part of the joy of discovering a new place is learning its rhythm. In general, islands seem to have a slower rhythm than the mainland; cities are faster than towns which in turn are faster than villages. Each one is slightly different and often, the biggest clue to the rhythm of life in a new place is the music you hear on the streets.
One of the most magical moments I have experienced to date involved the irrevocable intertwining of rhythm and place. I was travelling with two friends through the Czech Republic. It had been a long journey on multiple trains through sprawling, nondescript and overwhelmingly grey cities. We made our final connection to a train leaving České Budějovice and sat, exhausted, slumped up against the windows of the train staring out at the city spreading out as far as the eye could see. All of a sudden, the train stuttered and slowed its pace by almost half, and the city disappeared as the train entered a dappled forest of trees. Almost simultaneously, a group of passengers in nearby seats brought out instruments and struck up a rather lovely medley of tunes which sounded Bohemian, exotic and terribly romantic. I felt my tiredness slip away as the whole carriage joined in, clapping and singing along with this band of minstrel players. They weren’t playing for money; they were playing for the love of it. When we left the train at České Krumlov there were smiles on our faces, our spirits were lighter and we were filled with the romance of adventure.
Wandering down the spiral steps from the train station, we caught tantalising glimpses of this ancient town through the trees, and then a bridge appeared in front of us. Dusk was falling as we made our way through the city gates and up the winding cobblestone streets. Gas lamps flickered as we passed by and the scent of wood smoke filled the chilly October air. And then the most wonderful thing happened. Up the hill ahead of us, a house flung its top windows wide open, light streaming out into the dark street ahead of us. Through those windows came the most exquisite, most hauntingly beautiful melody I have ever heard. There were no instruments, just the swell of many, many voices, and it stopped us dead in our tracks. All three of us stood, faces turned upwards towards that window streaming light and music out into the evening fog and listened for what seemed like an eternity, until the music faded away and the hum of chatter took over. Then, without a word, we linked arms and continued our journey up the cobbled streets, forever changed by that one brief, heart-achingly magical moment.
Have you ever had a moment like that? I’d love to hear your story and see your photos. If you’d like to join in, create your own post between now and next Friday, title it “Travel theme: Rhythm” and put a link to this page in your blog post to make it easy for others to find your post. Do you have a favourite place that is defined by its rhythm?
This one is not easy at all, need to think about it! very interesting.. great post!
Glad you enjoyed my post, and I suspect that your upcoming travels to Prague and Budapest might offer up some very interesting rhythmic tales – the best jazz quartet I’ve ever seen performed in a little cellar in Prague! I love finding new ways to experience places, and seeking out the rhythm of a place makes you feel things in a very different way. Hope you have fun on your travels, and can’t wait to see what you come up with as a post. xxx
Here is one from me:
Wow, that was unbelievably quick. Love it, David, I did not know until just now that Mobile was the first place in the States to celebrate Mardi Gras, just googled it and see they first partied on down in 1703!
Oh! What a nice theme and a difficult one indeed. 🙂
I love your photos – all is right with the world where there is music.
It’s so true. I try to carry a small radio with me when I travel so that I can pick up local radio stations and hear the local music. xxx
Yes, this one is difficult! But I have a couple of ideas simmering…
That’s what I like to hear! Looking forward to your post! 🙂
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what an interesting theme.
Nice one, Rosa, she looks like quite a character. What type of music did she play? Notting Hill is such a fantastic place to people watch. 🙂
That was a great post, Ali. A wonderful memory, so stirringly retold – and, of course, no photo – because you were experiencing the essence of something aural, not visual. Um, I’ll have to see if I have any printable shots of some rhythmic moments!
Can’t wait to see what you come up with, Wanderlust Gene! You’re so right about the aural essence of my experience, even if I’d had a camera with me (which I didn’t) I doubt I could have captured any of the moment on film. We were all transfixed by the music and the sight of the light streaming out onto the cobblestones, and no photo could ever do it justice. It is, instead, etched into my memory and will live there forever. xxx
I’m sure it will. But just to be sure you should polish your post story and tart it up into a JPEG and add it to your image library. I kid you not. I travelled for 10 years without a camera, saying it’s relying on my unfettered memory. I’m appalled at the number of my unforgettable memories that have deteriorated beyond recognition already! If I had some prompts, perhaps I’d be able to reconstruct them, a bit like reassembling files from a corrupted hard drive.
I have a pile of old photos, but they’re all in Ireland, so next time I visit I am going to go through them all, it’s a promise! 🙂
At least you’ve got them – and if you can scan them they’ll be saved to some extent. Just imagine not having photos of ten years of travel! Restless Jo has challenged us to post wedding photos and you won’t believe, I’ve one print – badly damaged – that a friend gave me?
I’ve found a Rhythm section for your challenge – I’m about to work on it now …
without the music :-(..but rhythymic none the less 🙂
here’s my post for this week…
Fabulous, 4otomo, a visually rhythmic ode to Napoli. Beautiful post. xxx
Oops. Hit return too soon.
Some days I should just give up.
At first this seemed incredibly hard. As I started reading, I thought that there would be no way that I could come up with something to fit this theme. However, now that I’ve finished (and in spite of the 3 failed attempts above to leave a cogent comment), I have several ideas for both story & photo. I’m going to think about it awhile & will post something tomorrow — or once I’ve learned to type!
Ha ha Anne, your series of comments had me laughing out loud, can’t wait to see your post 🙂
Here is my entry: The beat of a city park on a Spring day. http://wp.me/p1tzBV-1m6
Oh Anne, these are fantastic, those guys jamming flat on their backs is a sight I would love to see for myself, and the timer on the chessboard is genius. Really lovely shots, every last one of them.
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I am loving this travel theme, Ailsa. My contribution contains snapshots of my journeys over the past 23 years. Thanks for the inspiration! http://cinova.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/travel-theme-rhythm/
Your post made me want to hop on the next plane to Ireland to rummage around in my shoebox photos. Loved it!
hey!!! went through your challenge… reading drew my attention… and kept it!! Love your visual writing!! :)) It’s been soooooooooo hot in Delhi, that going out is pretty dreadful… have been hiding indoors for the last week!! We hit 46 centigrade yesterday!! :)) …
Will try… I would love to write about the rhythm … i feel… each time I land in Goa!!! … it’s amazing!!!
((Hugs))) btw… love the theme
Oh yes, Mystiic, Goa would be perfect for a post about rhythm, hope you have a chance to write something, I’d love to hear about your experiences! xxx Ailsa
Ailsa, I love your post. It’s beautifully written and so evocative of the rhythms, and the magic, of travel. Can’t wait to try to figure out something for this one!!
Thanks, catbird, we’ve got some wonderful rhythmic posts already, looking forward to yours! xxx Ailsa
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Finally! Here’s mine:
Love the tango, and can’t think of a better setting than Patagonia! Sigh, so romantic!
a rather old post that you pointed out as being in line with this theme. i thought i’d share it here too: http://bekabuluh.wordpress.com/2011/09/28/yuyun-meets-paniyem-edi-santoso/
Love that quote from Paniyem: “I should have brought my whip. It’s dangerous, but it always makes for a more impressive spectacle”. Lovely example of rhythm Yogyakarta-style 🙂
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Done! YAY! I got Rhythm!
You most certainly do, that’s quite a May Fair you have going in your part of the world. 🙂
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Hi Ailsa, Thanks for another challenge. Here’s some rhythm in the street; the world was at war but the monkey danced on.
Big chunk of history in this one, Trish, and I understand your conflict with the photo too. I’m with Gandhi, who said:“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated”. We have a long way to go. xx
Do you know that you’re a gifted writer? The paragraphs above describe the incidents so well. I can see it all in my head. I think I read that you’re Irish; that’s got to have something to do with it. Thanks for your great writing.
Thanks so much for the compliment, Trish, I’m blushing a little. Yes, I’m Irish, and we do have a rich history of storytelling and the written word, but I also have my mum to thank for my love of language – she used to read Shakespeare and Dickens as bedtime stories when my brother and I were little. I must admit I love writing, and often write stream of consciousness because I find it fascinating. I went to the same uni as James Joyce and he’s a bit of a hero to me 😉
Check out Global Anni’s Cambodian rhythm post here: http://globalanni.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/travel-theme-rhythm-cambodia/ Moving stuff. xxx
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Hi Ailsa, though not exactly on topic, the post I wrote a couple of days about my experience on the Inca trek to Machu Picchu mentioned a Brazilian song that we all got stuck in our heads along the way. It was kind of the theme song to my entire Peru trip. See the blog post here: http://jenniferkoman.com/2012/05/27/inca-trek-to-machu-picchu-day-3/
The song is “Tche” by Gustavo Lima. Incredibly catchy and so fun to dance to.
Thanks for the invite to join!
Stunning part of the world, congratulations on doing the Inca Trail, quite a feat. I bet you were very much in touch with the rhythm of your heartbeat and the rhythm of your feet while you were doing the trail too! xxx
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Here’s my entry! 🙂
Absolutely beautiful interpretation of rhythm, Miguel, I love it. xxx
A very well written story Ailsa. I could almost picture myself there, on the train, and on the street listening to the singing.
Thanks Jeff, it was an experience that will live for me forever. I felt a bit like the Little Match Girl, standing outside the window, imagining the scene inside. 🙂
Fabulous stories and pictures Ailsa! Love the chaps with the bag-pipes. I’m about to shoot off on holiday so not blogging at the moment. I’ll try and catch your next challenge! 🙂
Have a wonderful trip, Jude, looking forward to hearing all about it when you get back!
Hello, Ailsa! Thanks for the super intriguing challenge! Here is my contribution for this week’s theme: http://3rdculturechildren.com/2011/11/17/snapshot-rocking-out-in-the-car/
Now that’s rhythm at its most fun!
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Awesome post Ailsa and yes a bit tricky as well 🙂
Here is my entry. Not the greatest pictures but they do tell a story.
Rhythm and romance, a great combination 😉
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Very nice to follow your blog activity, “Rhythm” I love it. This is my participation http://campanulladellaanna.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/travel-theme-rhythm/ Thank you my friend 😛
I love Peruvian music 🙂
Hi kids: here’s my take on Ailsa’s Rhythm Challenge. Let’s get all jiggy wit it!!!
Woohoo, getting jiggy wit it as I type, nice one, Stephen! xx
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this was a really good challenge and made me think a bit out of the box. I have several photos of street musicians but I was looking for something different. Finally I thought of the rhythm of religious processions, so here is my entry:
Nice interpretation, traveller2006, and I like the tagline too – you carry your journey with you.
Africa the home of rhythm
I believe it, Charlene, are you going to do a post on this theme? I’d love to see it.
Trying to find a photo, but with all my new gadgets, I can’t find one! lol
Going to a local fundraiser tonight. A group of orphans from Africa are touring and I will be back with some photos I hope.
Looking forward to seeing your post, Jo.
I’m joining you for the first time – here’s mine: http://lynneayersbeyondthebrush.wordpress.com/2012/06/02/travel-theme-rhythm/
Hi Lynne, so glad you joined in this week. I love your shots of the Uruguayan dancers, and that gorgeous girl with her twirling purple dress!
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Rhythm… was a hard one but I managed to come up with 3 different ideas! From the obvious to my ideal. Enjoy! http://canadiantravelbugs.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/travel-theme-rhythm/
Thanks Ailsa for another good one to make us think 🙂
Three very different photos, all interpreting rhythm in their own way – my favourite is the rhythm of nature photo, it looks like a very peaceful part of the world.
It was so soothing for the soul 🙂 ahhhh
Can I “love” this post? With my love of music and Czech heritage, I was very excited to see this. I will post my “rhythm” photo soon. Thanks!
Have you been to the Czech Republic yet, Catherine? There is some stunning scenery, and Prague is a fascinating city.
Not yet, but it’s definitely on my to do list! I can’t wait to see the castles and bridges, walk along the Vlatva River, and hear beautiful music. I’m sure there’s so much more to see and learn than I even know about.
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I finally found one! http://ayearinmyshoes.wordpress.com/2012/06/03/travel-theme-rhythm/
Wahoo, Paddy’s Day in Carrigaline. You can’t go far wrong with men in kilts, always a crowd pleaser 😉
Hi Ailsa, I gladly join your challenge.
This is my contribution for this weeks travel theme.
Hope you ‘ll enjoy my pictorial interpretation.
Have a nice day 😉
– Dauw –
Just gorgeous, Dauw, visually rhythmic and spectacular as always! Leonard Cohen’s Dance me to the End of Love is one of my favourite songs. xxx