In this super-technological and hectic era, we need to go against the current and find time to take pleasure in a journey. We have forgotten the wonderful feeling of moving progressively forward in space, and it is satisfying to follow the rhythms that are suitable for our physical and mental health. You just need to organise your travel wisely.
So says Cecilia Bartoli who has an aversion to air travel.
They tell you always what you must do: now eat, now sleep, now sit down. If you manage to nod off they wake you up, and you can fit yourself next to someone unpleasant or irritating. Or you find yourself trapped for hours between two seats without the possibility of getting up.
The idea to travel this way occurred to her originally because she wanted to emulate the journey Italian immigrants took to get to the Americas, she told La Repubblica.
I have relatives in Argentina and when I was a child my Grandmother told me about their crossings, the same trips which Europeans who wanted to appear in the American theatres had to undertake too.
So I boarded the Queen Elizabeth in Southampton, and landed in New York after an extraordinary week. It is emotional to leave the coast behind you and find yourself surrounded by the immensity of the ocean with the special fragrance of the sea breeze.
It is something she’s become quite passionate about.
I have also tried different routes, for example travelling north towards Iceland and descending along the coast of Canada.
Once I was travelling with a group of Italian-Americans wanting to experience the same sensation as their ancestors on arriving towards New York and looking out at the Statue of Liberty. At 5am everyone was on deck crying from the intensity of being able to share some of the emotions that their forefathers had felt.
A week on the seas gives plenty of time for poring over a score if she wants to study, or to just wind down. Of course, unless you are prone to entertaining on board, that is a week without a fee or being at home. But for Bartoli, the benefits outweigh other considerations.
When you land at an airport you feel half dead with your body not yet accustomed to the new time zone, but on a ship this doesn’t happen as the change is gradual. So while my colleagues are shattered and need to recuperate, I’m as fresh as a daisy and ready to rehearse at the Met. I’m certain that the lack of stress from not having jet lag is a reason why voices would often last longer in the past.
Sometimes, however, the luxury of the Queen Elizabeth needs to be replaced with the force, and excitement, of something more basic:
When I went to St Petersburg I took a train from Switzerland to Lübeck in Germany, where I boarded an icebreaker which got me there in three days.
Graham Spicer is a writer, director and photographer in Milan, blogging (under the name ‘Gramilano’) about dance, opera, music and photography for people “who are a bit like me and like some of the things I like”. He was a regular columnist for Opera Now magazine and wrote for the BBC until transferring to Italy.
His scribblings have appeared in various publications from Woman’s Weekly to Gay Times, and he wrote the ‘Danza in Italia’ column for Dancing Times magazine.