If given a choice, would you rather have a nice, 3-course meal carefully crafted by your favorite chef, or visit a fancy buffet restaurant offering an unlimited range of choices? My guess is that the results of such a survey would split right down the middle: some people would choose quality of experience, while others would opt for quantity of sensations. When planning a travel itinerary, you’re presented with a similar choice – fast or slow, lots or little. For me, it tends to come down to my mood at the moment. Sometimes I feel like rushing around, bombarding myself with sights, sounds and feelings, while other times I’d rather avoid the stress of moving all about, opting to concentrate on one or two places for the entirety of the trip. My Japan vacation with my wife last fall was what I call a “Banzai!” trip, ie. let’s pack the schedule like a sardine can and see as much as we can. Our itinerary for our upcoming New Zealand trip will be the opposite, ie. rent a car and stay 2-3 nights minimum in each location, playing it chill. It all depends on what you need at the time.
The Long Night of the Museums in Vienna, Austria presents this precise dilemma in microcosm. Every year, on the first Saturday of October, you can buy a ticket for 15 euros and visit up to 100 different locations, many of which offer something extra like a dance or music concert, or even food and drink. It’s basically the smorgasbord of museum nights, and there’s the rub. Do you pick your museum by interest, by quantity or by proximity? You’ve got 7 hours (6pm to1am) to work with: ready, set, culture! What do you do with your time?
As the distances are quite far between locations, Harald and I decide to choose a route that is easily walkable. We gawk at ancient armor and musical instruments at the Kunsthistorisches Museum (Museum of Art History), enjoy art and design at the MAK (Museum of Applied Arts), and peruse stage decorations and design at the Theatermuseum. Because it’s right there, we even wander around the small but fascinating Esperanto Museum. I can’t help thinking that my Dad, who taught himself Esperanto for fun, would’ve enjoyed this last place in particular.
All in all, we only visit 4 or 5 museums out of the 100+ options available, but it’s okay. Quality over quantity is the mood we’re in that night. Nevertheless, I feel a bit of FOMO (fear of missing out) growing in me.
“Hey Harald, what are you doing next October? Wanna go see 96 museums?”
(What’s your preferred mode of being – seeing a lot shallowly or a few things deeply? When it comes to personality types, our culture tends to favor extroverts – outgoing people who get their energy from being around a lot of people – over introverts who tend to prefer having a single, focused, 1:1 conversation over flitting from person to person. The point is that BOTH types are equally valid – and everything in between. Trust your gut and you’ll know whether a buffet or a sit-down dinner is right for you. And don’t be afraid to mix it up and go out of your comfort zone.)