So today I’m going to let you in on one of my not-so-secret loves: travel. Seriously, I love to travel. The actual travel part–schlepping myself via plane, train, or automobile–isn’t the good part, although I do enjoy trains and boats, and I like the uninterrupted and guilt-free reading and writing time that a long plane rides gives me.
My favorite part is exploring Someplace Else. It doesn’t particularly matter where the Someplace Else is. A lot of my favorite S.E.s are less than two hours from my house: San Francisco, Yosemite, Gold Rush country, the beach. But even better if the S.E. is more exotic.
Last year I was extremely fortunate and was able to live and work in Croatia for 5 months. I got to see lots of that beautiful country. Plitvice Lakes has to be one of the world’s most beautiful locations, and Dubrovnik is like a dream, made slightly bittersweet by what happened there during the Homeland War. But during my European adventure I was also able to travel to Spain, Scotland, England, Italy (twice), Austria (twice), and Slovenia (many many times). I saw some fascinating things, met some wonderful people, and ate amazing food. I learned to decode menus and manage basic interactions multilingually. It was a blast. It was also exhausting.
So when I returned to the US and collapsed into my bed, how long did it take me to yearn for travel once again? Three weeks.
I’m not sure what it is about travel that so captures me, but I know one thing: it gives me endless inspiration for writing. My next novel will, I believe, be set in Venice, where I spent a wonderful week. And I’ll be able to describe exactly how the fresh fish tasted, eaten raw or just lightly sauted in olive oil. I can describe the sound of thousands of tourists in Piazza San Marco, the smell of the lagoon, the feeling of a vaporetto bumping into a dock, the way the local women blocked the narrow streets–some so narrow you can easily touch both sides at once–as they chat, and the way waiters made a fuss over my 8-year-old daughter.
Give me one day in a city not my own and I can give you a novel.
Now, there is one part of travel I truly hate, and that is packing. Hate hate hate it. I can barely decide what to wear each morning–how can I choose for a week someplace I’ve never been where the weather is unknown? I always give myself the Going to Mars Talk: “Pack lightly, as best as you can, and if you need something when you get there, you can buy it. You’re not going to Mars.” Actually, some of those purchases end up being fun souvenirs. My rainjacket will remind me of Edinburgh everytime I wear it (Edinburgh in June=cold and rainy), and my watch is a daily reminder of Trieste, Italy.
What travel do I have planned for the rest of this year? San Francisco, Yosemite, Cambria, Palm Desert, Portland, Croatia (and somewhere else in Europe TBA), Albuquerque, Mexico.
Where do you love to go?