I planned a trip to Europe last year, and then, much to the disappointment of some of my religious friends, I went on and planned another this year. And I have no qualms about not regretting either. I was told both times that I should either go for umrah (Muslim pilgrimage) instead or perform it on my way back. While the reasons why that hasn’t happened are very personal, I do feel inclined to share with friends and family that traveling isn’t just fun, it is very, very spiritual too, apologetic as that may sound!
The rail tracks clamped to the Swiss landscape are just about heaven-sent. Every route they take, every inch they cover, a marvel of nature unveils itself. From the teal rivers running through quaint towns, to the still waters of turquoise lakes stretching twenty-odd miles among the lush of freshly bathed greenery, one cannot help but say, “Oh God!” Spiritual.
A train-ride from Venice to Vienna is just as much fodder for the spirit, with its winding paths, opening horizons to waterfalls, green beds of grass, densely and lovingly populated by small lakes and mellow cattle. Spiritual.Paris is a world famous city; not for its landscape or natural beauty, but for the aesthetics of its people. The wide boulevards, the manicured lawns, the fashion statements are all mixed up for a classy combo. But then, you discover how threatened the country feels in the face of religious symbolism, and in a second, you’re willing to forego dreams of settling in a city that has so much to offer because your religious sensitivities will not be respected. The Versailles tells tales of uber-luxury that one cannot even find in modern-day Buckingham, and you instantly understand why the French Revolution happened. You shun such disparity. You rise above it all. Spiritual.
Rome is the historic city of the world. A magnum-opus in itself. The Roman Forum, the Colosseo, the Palatine Hills are all thronged by people; few tourists throng other European cities like they do, Rome: for its cathedrals, its piazzas (and pizzas!), and most of all, its ruins. Often, the book of God tells us to take heed from ruins spread across land, and Rome – not to take away from the marvel that it is – serves as a very apt reminder. Spiritual.
Cordoba. A mosque built by the Umayyads, on the site of a church, once again, converted into a Roman Catholic Cathedral. Food for thought. Spiritual.
Time to plan my next adventure…! I’m thinking Mecca!