Andreas Susana isn’t your typical travel and tourism writer. He doesn’t live out of a suitcase, hop planes or mark off countries as he makes his way around the world. Instead, Andreas does something that almost seems counter intuitive to the travel writer style: He sticks around his home territory in Graz, Austria, and visits a different castle, museum or exhibit every single day.
I’m intrigued by Andreas’ passion to explore his own backyard and his desire to journey into the culture and history of his neighborhood. And even though he’s not running to catch a plane, I am grateful that he took the time to answer a few questions about his outlook on travel and how we can all benefit from taking advantage of our local tourist attractions.
What is your travel style?
I prefer to use public transport means, especially railways. Having breakfast and watching the sun rising from a train are for me some of the best ways to start a new day. During my train trips I do the research for my next visits in a museum or an exhibition. It is also the time for writing for my website or for tweeting on Twitter.
At my destinations I love to meet local people in order to learn more about their places. Sometimes it is just a meeting in a café or a visit in a gallery. Sometimes I have the chance to join guided tours for special interest groups. I am also always looking for invitations to private tours in castles and museums featured by their owners.
Why are you fascinated by castles and museums?
I am curious to learn about all aspects of our life, and museums and exhibitions are a good way to do this. It is an easy way to get in touch (though you are often not allowed to touch) with documents, tools and ideas of all peoples and periods. Actually it is a much better way than to read books or to watch TV as you have a more interactive component while walking through museums and exhibitions.
Castles are a kind of resort for me. I love to refill my mental batteries by roaming along the wide corridors of a former king’s residence looking at all those pieces of art and these special kinds of timelines made by paintings showing the former owners.
Why do you visit an exhibit every day?
At the beginning of my journeys my travel habits were more or less chaotic. I didn’t have a plan of how to set all these fascinating sights of the world in a row. So I looked for a structure and motto for my travels and after some experiments the idea was born to try to visit a different exhibition every day. Generally I link such a visit with a small walk through the town so I always see much more than an exhibition.
When did you start traveling like this?
I started to travel when I was 15. In the first years I was only able to travel during the holidays and on the weekends. Four years ago I started my career as a freelance travel writer. Now I have the time to go everywhere I want but at the moment I have limited my radius to Austria and its neighbor countries. There I try to visit especially places which are related to Austrian history.
Though it is important for me to broaden my mind by visiting as many landscapes and cultures as I can it is also a strong point for me to get in-depth knowledge of a certain country. Therefore I’ve decided to limit the amount of countries for the next few years.
What has been your most memorable travel moment?
I don’t think we should make rankings with our experiences and moments. My aim is to make always the best with a situation. So I have memorable moments nearly every day. To write down these moments is also the main aspect of my writing style. I don’t write big essays about the sights of a place. I prefer to put down the essence of a place and how this new experience has influenced my thoughts. Of course this evokes a very subjective writing style. So I prefer to say I am publishing travel notes not travel guides. Coming back to your question: I guess nearly each place is notable. You have just to search for the striking fact.
How do you decide what you will visit next?
As I love to visit exhibitions and new sights (for example new opened theme parks) right after their first opening day, their time tables rule my schedule. I also often get invited to exhibitions or to certain sights. This also influences my itinerary.
Why should people take the time to visit castles, museums and exhibits in their hometowns and when they travel?
You get a clue about your past and in this way about your present. You learn a lot about the history of your traditions, legends and even terms. Finally you are able to understand all the news which is coming to our ears every day and you are not so afraid by bad headlines.
Well, I know there is still the need to make personal experiences in real life too, but with all the information you will be getting from museums and exhibitions, you will be much more prepared and interested for all these fascinating things you can discover in the world.
Photos courtesy of Andreas Susana. (1) Self portrait (2) Schloss Mirabell, Salzburg (3) Even though Andreas loves to visit museums, it’s not always easy figuring out how to get to them.