When I go to Ireland I usually stay near a small village called Crusheen. The nearest actual town is Ennis. In Ennis they have a street aptly named Abbey Street, which always feels to me as the actual entrance to the town. Now the reason that it's called abbey St, is because at its base there is a ruined abbey that is... oh I don't know.... more than a couple hundred years old. Every other time i had gone there it was under "construction", making a welcome center to the ruins and such, so i could only see it through tall fences. This time i was finally able to walk the grounds (for a price of course!)
The funny thing was that for all my huff and puff of making sure I brought the camera from NY and got it a new awesome HUGE memory card, on this particular day I forgot it at home (back in Crusheen), and so I HAD to sketch.
Now I've read other sketch journals in which the artists say its better to draw the location they're at, to get a better feel/idea/memory of the place. And i've always thought that was a romantic way of looking at travel... You know back when going anyway required at least 2 weeks travel time on boat or train. when you went away it was usually for at least 2 months, and your family and friends had to cope with the very real possibility that you may never return, having caught some exotic illness.
But with my love of photography and all those new nifty digital cameras, I never really did. I lamented my camera's inability to shoot proper macro, as i fell in love with the intricacies of how the moss grows over the stone and the shadow the overlooking tree is making it pop. I would see my trips as a series of compositions with light, color and dimension/focus being played with, and "natural" posing with my friends and family.
All that being said.... I forgot the simple pleasure of perching myself up on a raggedy old rock (that should by modern logic just tumble off with the slightest pressure put on it), and trying to figure out how the place was constructed. Actually LOOK at the location, and not just its compositional elements, but see the overall shape, size, texture of the place. Really think about how time changed the color of the stones, wore away old inscriptions, and let nature reclaim most of it back.
I don't think I could ever be rid of my camera while traveling. But taking small moments and drawing what I see (usually in an uncomfortable position) and getting down a feel for the place (that try as i might i can't get with photographs), i think i have just discovered in myself. Viva the ability to draw!