Sunday, May 16, 2010

Travel Fever

I'm a very lucky lady. Unlike many people, I've been fortunate enough to fulfill my dreams―in particular, my dreams of international travel. As a child I spent my mid-day naps fantasizing about trains, planes and hotels. In my French classes, I imagined myself standing awed before the majesty of Notre Dame. In my biology classes, I mused about what it would be like to follow Darwin's footsteps to Patagonia. In Ancient History, I dreamed about the Parthenon and the pyramids.

Now, more than three decades after graduating from college, I've visited every continent except Australia and Antarctica. It's true that I still haven't seen Athens, Giza or the Galapagos, but after all, I still (hopefully!) have some traveling time left!

I mostly have my husband to thank for my world-wide peregrinations. On our first date, he took me to a Burmese restaurant and kept me spellbound for more than two hours with tales of his voyages in Asia and Europe. Finally, at the end of the meal, he looked me in the eye and said, “I've been looking a long time for someone to travel with.” I was hooked. (Well, truthfully I wasn't one hundred percent convinced until I saw the photo of K. in Indonesia, wearing nothing but a batik sarong.)

We're not rich members of the leisure class, so our travels have been piecemeal, but it is a rare year that we don't take at least one foreign trip. Often we combine business and holiday, attending an overseas conference or scheduling a meeting with international colleagues and then extending the time with some purely touristic activities.

K.'s and my travel preferences are amazingly compatible. We both enjoy the ocean but we're not beach people, shying away from sand and sunburns. We seek out places steeped in history and culture; modern marvels do not have much appeal. Often we spend most of our travel time just walking around, getting a sense of a place. Food is an important component of the ideal trip for us, too.

During the coming week, I'll be taking you on a tour of some of the places I've visited, and also pointing out how I've used my travels to provide background for my stories.

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