I've been struggling for a long time on seeing if there is a way to simulate a vacation, or perhaps recreate that special day from a past vacation, or even trying to recreate the feelings of that beautiful day spent abroad. There are a number of elements that make up a memory. Many of those elements can be recreated, but some are very elusive.
- Music and Sounds. Well you know where I stand on music and the mood it can create. This is the easy one and why music is such a wonderful experience. Whenever I hear La Vie en Rose, I think of walking home from a busy day sightseeing in Venice with my brother. It was getting dark and we were taking a more roundabout way back to the hotel. We'd just walked through a large piazza, which appeared to be the open-air evening entertainment spot for many more locals than visitors. We took a medium sized Venetian street/alley exit from the piazza en route for bed and rest before another busy day. It was very dark and you could just see the faint glow of lighting between shutters from residences on the second floor. And there it was, the clear, beautiful and immediately recognizable Piaf lyric.
Il me dit des mots d´amour, Des mots de tous les jours, Et ca me fait quelque chose...
- Aromas. Although not easily recreated for an online audience, some of the sensual aromas that fill our memories can be easily recreated in our kitchen, or simply by breathing in the bouquet of a fine glass of Chianti. However many of the aromas we recall from foreign lands are more elusive, like the fragrances in the tropical air from indigenous flora. My mother often says the aroma that was most prevalent in Singapore during our visit in 1975 was frangipane. But is her memory the same as mine ? Who is to know how an aroma is for another ? For me, I remember warm December nights , no breeze, the cacophony of chit chats as a soundtrack, and the comfort of family companions as we soak in the new delights of an exotic tropical land.
- Tastes. Oh so many to savour. The taste of a pint of Theakstons XB. I was visiting cousin Pete in London with Suzanne. We'd had a few by the river in Richmond, surrounded by people quitting work early and tipping a few pints. We took a short black cab ride up the hill to one of Pete's faves - The Roebuck. We grabbed our pints and casually walked across the road to take in the view of the Thames. It looked with a scene from a Turner painting. The XB was a perfect temperature, still, and with the rich balance of bitterness and a touch of sweetness was liquid heaven. It went down smooth and had me asking for another. More importantly I left a wonderful memory of England, as it should be, with an amber pint of the good stuff in your hand. I think I've had a Theakston's since then, but it will never be the same feeling as that day. Maybe it's the combination of senses that is the essential factor of the moment, not just any one sensual memory ?
- Touch. I love the feeling of sand between my toes and one of the beaches that I have clearest memories of is at The Coral Reef Club in Barbados. Suzanne and I had stayed there on our honeymoon and then returned for our 10th anniversary in 2001. The casual walk along the beach as the thinning waves tickle your feet is just the thing to wipe away thoughts of business deadlines and big city nonsense. That feeling of alternating damp and hot sand and warm salty water is one I want to remember forever and hopefully feel again. I remember we packed a bottle of 1997 Monsanto Chianti Classico and after another day in paradise we set up on the beach for the sunset. The feeling of nestling that bottle in the sand and the pressure of the chaise lounge on your slightly burnt back and a rock glass in your hand with traces of sand on its bottom (not to mention the sumptuous taste and bouquet of the wine), Simply wonderful.
- Sites. Quite difficult to pick just one, but one of nature's most glorious sites and one of my favorite places in the world is Whistler. The first time I had the pleasure of skiing in Whistler was in 1989. I remember taking the Village Gondola up Whistler Mountain which actually delivered me to the Roundhouse. From there you get your first glimpse of the true peak and the threat of the high alpine. And from the top, looking across the vast expanse of mountain range is one of those times when you truly get a sense of how small you are and how powerful nature can be. Breathtaking. However, this is the hardest sense to recreate, even with beautiful photography or the latest in high def film, the view is not the same from behind a lens.