Inspiration

42810Bambi_7949Web I never get tired of looking at the Sartorialist, but this morning I'm particularly in the mood. I've been jonsing for travel. Not a vacation. Travel.

I want to explore the streets of a strange city. A city where I don't know the language, the currency, or the proper way to tell a persistent guy to go fuck himself. I want to point to something on a menu with the slight panic that I might end up with pig brains, instead of the fragrant, garlic chicken that I see on the next table. I want to chat with fellow grizzled travelers in eccentric hotels. I want to drink high octane espressos in side street cafes hoping to purge the vague headache from last night's wine.

High adventure isn't on the table this year, but we've still got many mini-adventures coming up.

18 thoughts on “Inspiration

  1. Hey Laura, when I read your comments I recognize something I sense in myself; I don’t just want to travel, I want to be young and traveling again.
    You’re probably holding up better than I am, but I can’t imagine having to fend off a too-persistent guy this time around. (The checkout guys at Jewel call me “ma’am”. Ouch.) And even if I do manage to travel again, I will never relive my Amsterdam trip of 1989, in all its drunken debaucherous glory. C’est la vie.
    I need to find a new way to do interesting travel, I guess.

  2. I am, because of memories of riding trains in Europe, occasionally struck by the idea of taking the train from Pittsburgh to Nebraska. The extra 20 hours travel time and hundreds of extra dollars mean I’ll never do it. But, I do keep looking at the different sleeper car arrangements on Amtrak and wondering if they could possibly be as comfortable as they look on the web.

  3. “I can’t imagine having to fend off a too-persistent guy this time around.”
    I remember my mother commenting on how different it was to visit Paris as a 40 year old versus as a 20 year old.

  4. If you end up in a town where you don’t know the currency, I’d be quite worried about how you go there! The “talking with other travelers” bit is something I could never get in to. It’s too much like an Onion article about meeting great people while on study abroad- this guy from Penn State, a girl from Ohio State, etc. Otherwise, it is good fun. I’m always a bit envious of my wife when we go somewhere for a conference- while I sit listening to papers, she’s out exploring.

  5. I’ve was just nerdy, conservative, and uptight enough never to have done the backpacking across europe/junior year abroad/drunken debauchery trips as a young person (there was a post-college trip in Asia, but it was fairly tame).
    On the other hand, I’ve done a fair amount of travel as an adult, the non-drunken kind, and with our kids (who travel fairly well). Since I can’t compare it to “when I was young in Paris”, my opinions aren’t directly on point. But, now, these trips are joyful in a completely different way (than I’d imagine they would have been). First, there’s the real joy of showing things to your children, with their wide open minds. Then, there’s the interactions you get when you have a child with you (some of which are good). There’s the hunt for things you’d just do without as an adult (playgrounds, peanut butter, diapers) that take you to places that you’d wouldn’t go otherwise. One memory I’ll remember forever is the sunset we saw over Venice because we’d hunted down a playground, because our children wanted them desperately. That’s a place we’d never have been, if not for the children.

  6. On menus, when I first got to Russia and couldn’t read the language at all, the thing that worried me was that many menus contained sections devoted to cigarettes, chocolate bars, and vodka. A dinner of a pack of cheap Russian cigarettes, a beaker of vodka, and a chocolate bar was a real possibility. Later the thing I learned about menus was that, at many restaurants, the menus were aspirational- just because it was on the menu was no reason to think they’ve have it, though they might have it at some point. (Georgia sounds like a great place to go, and fits with my idea that recent or near [but not active] conflict zones are good to visit because they will be cheap. And Georgian food is wonderful.)

  7. So when shall I expect Laura and Matt?
    I promise to do only emergency backstopping, so that you can have your eccentric experience and still get shipped back home on time and in one piece.
    Georgia is a great place with wonderful food (though don’t even think about the nutritional value of adjaran khachapuri; some menus are still aspirational), and it’s reasonably cheap once you get here.

  8. I’d love to go to Georgia. The only thing (other than money) that keeps me from visiting is that I need to be able to get into Russia regularly, and I have a persistent, if perhaps not fully grounded, fear of being refused a Russian visa, and the idea that visiting Georgia might give some visa agent at the Consul a reason to reject my application in the future. Laura should certainly go, though.

  9. There’s probably a fundamental difference between people who, when they think of the joys of traveling abroad, think of the Caucus and people who are largely free from major head injuries.

  10. I guess I’d rather see Venice or Dublin or some place where large episodes of shooting are further removed in both time and distance. Of course, I live in Pittsburgh, so I don’t have to travel very far to see a mountainous region where the menus in restaurants are frightening.

  11. “There’s probably a fundamental difference between people who, when they think of the joys of traveling abroad, think of the Caucus and people who are largely free from major head injuries.”
    Speaking of tourism and major conflicts, some years ago, I taught a workplace ESL class for a mixed group of recent immigrants from the former Yugoslavia: Serbs, Croats, Bosnians. My students’ descriptions of the various attractions of their homelands was really enchanting. I have to wonder about the prevalence of land mines, though.

  12. “my idea that recent or near [but not active] conflict zones are good to visit because they will be cheap”
    A good friend, while traveling around Europe in 2003, spent time in Sarajevo and hiking in the surrounding mountains, and loved it. (A mid-20s female traveling alone, FWIW).

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