I walk a lot when I travel. It’s a great way to get to know a city. I also dislike taxis, which means I need to walk more. If I know the city well enough, I’ll take public transportation, which doesn’t necessarily stop right next to the destination of choice. Yeah, I walk a lot.
But I don’t walk nearly as much as Jean Béliveau who spent 11 years walking across the earth (with a few flights between continents). Just reading about his trek makes my feet hurt. I keep thinking about getting lost in Montreal and needing a few days for my feet to recover (that would’ve been a good day for a taxi).
I doubt I would consider riding my bike as much as he walked (although, that would save on gas).
I may have a comfortable pair of hiking shoes (which would’ve been helpful in Montreal), but I don’t think they’d be so comfortable after a few days of walking that many miles. I’ve hiked mountains with peaks as high as 13,500 feet and climbed plenty of steps for a view of cities and natural scenery, but Jean Béliveau went far beyond what I would ever attempt.
One aspect of Jean’s story that intrigued me is that he mentions the helpfulness of the locals. In many countries that we consider more dangerous than our own, he found that the people were willing to set him up with a place to stay and food. He had a more difficult time in industrialized countries where people were skeptical of him, perceiving him as just another vagrant or beggar.
Before taking another walk while on vacation, think about where that path might lead and be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes.