Boring places worth a second look

Boring places worth a second look
PHOTO: Wikimedia Commons

An unspoken rule of travel is that, no matter what, you must avoid boring destinations. If you're going to endure the sundry hassles of travel - from the cruel middle seat to the temporal whiplash of jet lag - you might as well go someplace interesting, right?

Not necessarily. Interesting is a relative term, and one that lies largely in the eye of the traveller. Boring can be ­- and I realise this is heresy - good. In fact, thumbing through passport stamps and other travel ephemerae recently, I realised that it was the "boring" places that stirred some of the fondest memories. Geneva? Deadly dull. I loved it. Bhopal, India? Nothing special. I had a great time. Ditto Izmir, Turkey and Cleveland, Ohio.

I know this sounds insane. Isn't travel all about escaping boredom, about making a headlong rush away from the dull and toward the invigorating?

No, it's not. Travel, I believe, means confronting boredom, staring it down, and emerging not only unscathed but revitalised. We live in an age that has little patience for monotony. Tethered to our iThings, we text and tweet the days away, secure in the knowledge that we need never experience that unsettling ennui that is, let's face it, part of the human condition. Travel presents an opportunity to untether, and that is best done in less interesting places. That's because such destinations are completely distraction free, unencumbered by even the distraction of beauty - and, yes, beauty can be distracting, as anyone who has ever stepped foot in Italy can attest.

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