Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Blogless Travels of the Past

I'm no world traveler, but I've been here and there over the years. For most of those years, there were no blogs. When we wanted to bore people with trite observations about our travels, we wrote postcards. Now, thanks to the Internet, it's possible to broadcast pointless ramblings with much greater speed and efficiency. With a single mouse click, I can bore everyone I know. Who says travel isn't fun any more?

Still, I do wish I'd been able to blog about some of my past travel experiences. Here are a few memorable destinations:

Windsor, England - I went to Windsor twice on business and loved it. On the drive from the airport, we drove right past the field where King John signed the Magna Carta in 1215. I stayed in a small hotel a short walk from Windsor Castle. My room had an electric kettle for making tea and little packets of biscuits (cookies to us Yanks) - charming. I toured the castle and browsed the bookstores in Eton, home of the famous prep school for the rich and royal. And the British sales managers I worked with were stiff and reserved until they decided they liked you, at which point it was like spending the day with a roomful of soccer hooligans (and I mean that in the best possible way).

Melbourne, Australia - Another business trip. Until recently I had stopped traveling since Precocious Daughter was born. She actually accompanied me Down Under, hitching a ride in my belly about three months before she was born. Melbourne is a beautiful city; while Sydney is huge and modern, Melbourne is intimate and Victorian. It's a city made for walking, and I did a lot of it, thinking all the while that as wonderful as it was, it would have been so much better with Beloved Spouse by my side. This is not a trip I remember for its marvelous dining; Australians will eat nearly anything on a sandwich, from Vegemite to cranberry sauce to strange leafy things.

Coronado, California - Many of BelSpouse's relatives live in California, and we rented a house with several of them on this gorgeous island off San Diego. Just walking to the beach every day was a treat - Coronado is full of beautiful little cottages, bungalows, and miniature Spanish villas nestled among palm trees and dazzling bouganvilla. From the city beach you could stroll over to the famous Del Coronado Hotel, where the staff turned a benign blind eye to the crowds of non-guests exploring its corridors and lounging in its bar. I don't think I've ever been as relaxed as I felt among the laid-back inhabitants of this sun-drenched town.

Portland, Oregon - I remember that it was very green and quite damp. And it was where I tried raw oysters for the first (and last) time. Eating something when a client is urging you on (and paying the tab) is one thing; but ever again eating something cold and slimy that I couldn't even taste because I didn't dare chew it is quite another.

Tulum, Mexico - We stayed at an all-inclusive resort on the Riviera Maya, which was OK. But the short bus ride to the ruined city of Tulum was much better. The stone buildings and temples are clustered on the lip of a cliff that overlooks the Pacific Ocean and curves away in both directions to the far horizons. We saw snakes and lizards making themselves at home in the ancient crevices of the ruins. Down a short hill was a small, sandy beach favored by the locals, who looked to be directly descended from the original Maya occupants of the city. A tour guide told stories about their rituals and history, but I had my own private tour guide in BelSpouse, who not only knew just as much of the history, but made wonderful sketches of our surroundings as he lectured.

San Antonio, Texas - PDaughter and I drove down to visit my sister and her family. We did a lot of neat things, one of which, of course, was touring the Alamo. I never took Texas history in school, and I had never actually heard the whole story of the famous battle. It was fascinating. We also went to the Natural Bridge Caverns, the highlight of which, of course, are the enormous mounds of bat guano found in the caves. The drive itself - the whole mom-and-daughter road trip thing - was as much fun as anything else we did that week. I guess it really is the journey and not the destination that makes the trip.

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