Travel (whether an excursion, voyage, expedition, backpack, roam or cruise) has forever been a nutritious and inspiring element of society. In the summertime in the northern hemisphere – when the possibility of prolonged locomotion is both realistic and preferred  – the attraction is especially beguiling. Whether it is the wintertime blues or the mere delight of adventure which promotes this instability and insatiability I do not know. There are so many provocative varieties of travel; viz., a weekend outing, a jaunt to the other side of the world (such as to the South Pacific Ocean), an investigative enterprise (usually with a hidden objective for unparalleled discovery) or an aimless sailing trip. Whatever the objective it can be assured that the protagonist (that is, the champion adventurer) has a kit of credentials upon the basis of which he or she proposes to unfold the desirability of the circumnavigation.

One of the paramount features of any odyssey is its geographic singularity, not the least common of which is frequently a location adjoining an ocean or other large body of water. We’ve all read “The Story of Axel Munthe, Capri and San Michele“.

Axel Martin Fredrik Munthe (31 October 1857 – 11 February 1949) was a Swedish-born physician and psychiatrist, best known as the author of The Story of San Michele, an autobiographical account of his life and work. He spoke several languages (Swedish, English, French, Italian fluently, and German at least passably), grew up in Sweden, attended medical school there, then studied medicine in Paris and opened his first practice in France. He was married to a wealthy Englishwoman and spent most of his adult life in Italy.

His philanthropic nature often led him to treat the poor without charge, and he risked his life on several occasions to offer medical help in times of war, disaster or plague. As an advocate of animal rights, he purchased land to create a bird sanctuary near his home in Italy, argued for bans on painful traps, and himself kept pets as diverse as an owl and a baboon, as well as many types of dog. His writing is light-hearted, being primarily memoirs drawn from his real-life experiences, but it is often tinged with sadness or tragedy, and often uses dramatic licence. He primarily wrote about people and their idiosyncrasies, portraying the foibles of both the rich and the poor, but also about animals.

The bedtime story is illustrative of the value and allure of travel; that travel is a progressive enterprise and evolution; that there may be hardship along the way (but when is there not?); and finally that in the end there may be no guarantee of perfection of the outcome, yet you can get surprisingly close by trying. Not unexpectedly it makes for no small reward that one has the distinct satisfaction of knowing you did what you could to fulfill your dream.