Slow Travel: Quality over Quantity

I always find it interesting when asked the question “How many countries have you visited?” This is a weak and closed question. This number is ever-growing for me, believe I am somewhere around 40, but that is not what is important. What is important is how many of these countries have I made friends in, how many vendors or local shop owners have I struck a conversation with where I walked away thinking a different way, and how many countries can I speak in small details about their political, economic, and socioeconomic situations after learning about them over a snack or beer or meaningful conversation with this new acquaintance? 

Quality over Quantity is something I adopted in my mid-twenties. It is the practice of going to foreign places to leave with more knowledge, to share my knowledge, to understand what life is like as a (insert age here) of a person living (insert country/destination here), and meet new people. Slow travel allows one to immerse into the roots of the place that they are visiting. Developing and fostering these relationships are far more interesting compared to running through a checklist of places to see because a travel blogger put them on a "can't miss" post. *I understand that I have the luxury of traveling often, so this method may not be applicable to everyone.*

One of my many examples especially sticks out to me. I was walking aimlessly around Vienna knowing that there is an excellent second-hand watch market to be found. I had a specific piece in mind, a 1950s - 60s Omega Constellation. A flicker of light caught my eye on a corner of a majestic cobblestone street, there it was. Glistening through the window while basking in the sun, I couldn't help but crack a smile. I proceeded in. Conversation was struck, it was pure, genuine, and our words and stories were flowing. I could see before even opening up the case-back or investigating the piece that this guy was authentic. Many hours later, I was wearing the watch heading towards Slovakia in the van of the watch dealer. He had another deal to do and I tagged along for the ride. We ended up in Bratislava for the evening. When I woke up that day, I had no intentions of this happening - no plan in many cases is a good plan. I cherish this memory every time I look at my 1957 Omega I bought from him. 

Slow travel allows memories like this to take flight. 

When answering the question of “how was the trip, what did you do?” – my best answer can always be “I made a new friend.”