Tag Archives: slowing down

Today would be a good day to be (slowing down) in the Cinque Terre

A new year has started and I don’t know about you, but it hasn’t taken long for my diary to start to fill up and the pace of life to start to get hectic again. I hear so often (and try to stop myself from saying) the answer “busy” to the question “how are you?”

So today, I’m thinking back to a place I was just over a year ago where life felt much slower, and I was just basking in the beauty of village life and of the magnificent creation. Five fishing villages along the Italian Riveria, carefully built on terraces all the way down the cliffs overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. I’d love to get back there again today.

What did I love about the Cinque Terre?

It was the week before Christmas, and so some travel experts had actually advised not to bother visiting as much would be closed for the winter. I’m so glad I ignored their advice!

Yes, many of the boats were pulled in for the winter, and some of the restaurants were closed.

But the tourists were fewer …

… and the locals were just enjoying their everyday lives.

And the beauty remained.





I think perhaps this is one of the most picturesque places in the world.

Certainly it boasts some of the most scenically located train stations.

Walking between the villages there are moments when you feel like you are at the end of the world.

And life just seems to be going at a more relaxed pace.

What did I learn from the Cinque Terre?

I think the main lesson from these villages for me was just about slowing down. Even the sunset felt like it lasted for hours.

And the combination of slowing down and appreciating the beauty of the creation around me leads me to worship.

I’m not the only one … it was a delight to stumble upon some of the places of worship scattered throughout these villages …

… and to join with all those who have come before in pausing in this place to acknowledge my Creator and King.

This is perhaps most obviously seen at Christmas time at Manarola, where a man named Mario Andreoli has for over 30 years been sharing the story of the incarnation in lights on the hillside, forming the world’s largest nativity scene.

It is another moment to just stop, slow down, be still, and say wow! My iPhone photos really don’t do it justice,* but they remind me and inspire me to seek to find moments to slow down and to worship in my own, too-often-too-busy, life.






*For a much more impressive view of the Manarola nativity … check out this one by Christian Leone from villeinitalia.com


Today would be a good day to be on Île des Pins

My usual preference for travel is exploring cities with culture, history, art, and vibrant communities. I love learning from the places and the people I meet there. Being exposed to difference and diversity challenges me and provokes me, causing me to question some of the assumptions of my own life.

However, I am aware that for many people the idea of a holiday that is packed full of ‘educational activities’ just sounds like more work and lying on a beach somewhere doing nothing is eminently more appealing. And that challenges me as well. I’m not so good at slowing down, being still, taking time just to relax and ‘be’. So in the midst of a busy few weeks, and in the midst of some wintery days, today I’m thinking a visit to the Isle of Pines wouldn’t be a bad thing.

What did I love about the Isle of Pines?

The beauty of this true paradise.

Sparkling white sand, crystal blue water, lush green trees. #nofiltersneeded

I’m not sure there are too many places in the world more picturesque.

And that’s even without a camera that could capture the stunning beauty that lies beneath the water on the world’s second longest coral reef!

What did I learn from the Isle of Pines?

Isle of Pines was a great reminder to slow down. To just be for a while. There is really not much to do here other than enjoy the spectacular scenery – to swim, snorkel, and sunbathe.

A small island in the middle of a large ocean is always a good reminder of perspective. In particular, perspective on my own smallness in this big world.

The friendliness and slower paced life of the local people is a challenge to my own sense of what is ‘necessary’ and ‘important’.


These are things I need to remember in the busyness of my daily life.

And because I’m still me, I did enjoy learning a little bit about New Caledonia’s history and culture. I admit to entire ignorance before I arrived, and so visiting the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre in nearby Noumea was helpful and important for me to get a sense of the people of this place. And reading a bit more about the recent political history has left me intrigued to see where the future lies for this little collectivity.

For today, I’m hoping to find some moments to just be still and ‘be’ – even without the sun, sand and snorkelling – and to notice and appreciate the beauty in my own surroundings. It’s always a good day for that.