The goal of any science was to be comprehensive. Starting with the definition of travel, the question of its meaning and purpose soon arose. “Travelling was part of the training. The knowledge gained through travel should serve the country and the general public, ”explains Vera Locher. Practical information was also part of each apodemik: how to pack, how to pray, how to transfer coins, how to ask questions, and how to keep a diary. Funny—at least from today’s point of view—is the packing list from 1799. According to that author, shoes, stockings, and a cane are enough for travel. In contrast, the 1997 hiking guide’s packing list includes more than 80 items. Also amusing: the way the diary has to be kept. It took four books to do that. One for taking notes, two for writing notes neatly, two because one might get lost, and one for recording facts, in this case making an encyclopedia.
In the end it was all about getting to know the country and its people well. Apodemik was the tool for that. Therefore many epodemias are also written in the vernacular rather than in Latin, because they should be accessible to all. There was more to learn about climate, geography, wildlife, people, language, religion, customs, finance, political system, etc. “But one should not be considered a spy,” says Vera Locher. Leopold Graf Berchtold’s book The National Traveler lists a total of 2,443 questions for theoretical and practical travel reflection to be asked on the trip. Visitors can also learn more about his work in the gallery.
Travel speed picked up. However, the science of travel died out at the end of the eighteenth century, as the sciences and the type of research became more specific. The idea of travel has also become different. People traveled more and more for tourism reasons, out of self-interest. And also not with the claim to know the country and its people in detail. Travel literature has also changed over the centuries. Today you can still find bits of apodemic in travel guides, for example in the form of practical advice, but today you write and read much more specifically – about a country, a region or a type of travel. People still only talk about the meaning and nonsense of travel. So the apodimes live for a while.
The exhibition “Apodemik – The Science of Travel” is open until March 10 during the opening hours of the Graubünden District Library.
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