Blind Traveler

19 Apr

by Stella De Genova

Sitting at my home computer in the Midwestern, American city that I was born and raised in, it feels a little surreal this morning to think about where I was for the last 12 days.  Nonetheless, the reality of it all is that I just got back from visiting family and touring London, England and to top it off, a 2-day jump over to Paris, France.  As a legally blind person, white cane in hand, along with my son who was my traveling companion and my brother who has lived in England for a few years, I’m just as amazed at the blurry, beautiful sights I saw as I am at how many “tubes” and trains and buses we maneuvered to get around.  A savvy traveler I am not and I would not suggest doing this alone to any other blind person but I feel some accomplishment about having been able to run through the streets and train stations of London and Paris.

We literally walked 10’s of thousands of steps and took in medieval castles and homes, art museums and cathedrals and must-see spots like the Tower Bridge, Big Ben and Westminster Abbey in London and its midlands; and the Eiffel Tower, Arc d’Triumph, Musee d’Orsay and Mont Martre in Paris.  We gazed upon the masterpieces of Michelangelo, Holbein, Bellini, van Eyck, Seurat, Cezanne and Van Gogh in the museums.

Sighted people go on vacations and make sure they see the sights and my family took me to all of the required tourist hot spots.  But with my failing eyesight, I’ve found that there is much more to the travel experience than what we see and that is to be savored as well.  It’s true that what I saw was far from crystal clear and many times what I saw was mostly through descriptions but I used my other senses to enjoy my trip.  My visual blurriness gave me the feeling of being part of an impressionist’s painting in Paris.  And I thoroughly enjoyed listening to British accents and the French language that I’ve loved since high school.  The feel of centuries-old cobblestone streets under my feet and the smells of the native cuisine along with the plethora of international flavors and languages feels like all of the senses having a party.  And it always awes me to be in buildings or places that hold infinite stories of told and untold history.  We don’t need our eyes at all to see the bustling ghosts of ancient times all around us.

I also appreciated that wherever we were, the understanding of the universal symbolism of the white cane was apparent and there was a general kindness and consideration communicated by all.  In a way, even though my blindness can make for its share of inconvenience in life, it can also bring comfort to find that most people in this world are inherently kind.  There may be a point in my future when I will not be able to see the photos taken on my trip but all of my senses will help me to hold treasured memories well beyond the sense of sight.

To learn more about Stella De Genova, click on the Statement tab on this blog site.


2 Responses to “Blind Traveler”

  1. Al DeGenova April 19, 2013 at 10:24 AM #

    So glad that you had a wonderful time. Obviously, you don’t need perfect vision to enjoy the details of the world around you, details that I we sighted folks often miss.

  2. Walter Dydo April 19, 2013 at 4:40 PM #

    Hi Stella,

    You are an artist in many ways.  You wrote your post in a most beautiful way.  Despite your disability you managed to enjoy an unforgettable trip.  I was so happy that you were able to take in all of the things that you did.

    Love –  Mom 


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