Travel tales of fact and fiction
A good writer is basically a story teller, not a scholar or a redeemer of mankind.
— Isaac Bashevis Singer
If I take these words to heart, everything I write about travel can’t merely be a chronicle of my travels or a delineation of plans. Somewhere along the way I have to tell some stories.
Some of my stories are, alas, not really stories in the traditional sense. My stories of buying a camera or buying new luggage are not filled with dramatic events or interesting characters. There’s no plot to speak of. But I hope they reveal something about how I do stuff.
Sometimes a story can arise from an actual travel experience. Sometimes a picture tells a story or suggests a story that is begging to be told. I hope to write some actual stories, to share a little about my internal journeys, to tell some tales, and to create some narrative. By all means, come along for the ride!
I’m a worrier.
I don’t know why I’m a worrier, and I’m not going to worry about why, because I have enough other things to worry about.
But here I am, just about two weeks from my next big trip, and I’ve got all these things I’m worried about. Will I pack efficiently? Will I forget anything? What if the airline loses my luggage? What if I don’t get along with the other people on the tour? I might not enjoy the tour. I might get sick. On and on it goes…
Is there is a difference between being a gay traveler and traveling while gay?
One of the blogs I most enjoy reading is called “Travels of Adam.” Adam Groffman started his blog in 2009, when he was still working as a graphic designer in Boston. He was on the verge of turning 25, and he was also on the verge of quitting his job and embarking on a trip around the world. Since 2011 he’s been living in Berlin. In addition to writing his blog, Adam has a series of Hipster City Guides that highlight what he considers the cool places to go in each of fourteen (mostly European) cities.
Okay, my trip is still more than seven months away, and I’m obsessing about luggage. I think it’s because it’s a tour, and I don’t have any other plans to make. Still, I’m pretty sure I’ve taken it too far.
I returned the bag I got from eBags. I decided it was too big. And I’ve bought three new bags, one of which will definitely go on the trip with me.
I will never forget the huge suitcase I brought along on my first trip to Europe, a ten-day tour in the middle of the summer to Austria, Germany, and Hungary.
Gradually in my travels I have reduced the size of my luggage, and on my four independent Europe trips (Italy in 2009, Nordic countries in 2012, Balkans in 2014, and Beltherway in 2016), I brought only carry-on luggage.
My first trip outside North America was in 1989. It was a choir tour to Germany, Austria, and Hungary, but we flew through Paris, where we had an eight-hour layover, so we arranged for a quick tour around the city. There was maybe just enough time for a quick photo stop in front of Notre Dame, but otherwise we spent most of the time seeing the Eiffel Tower and the Arch de Triomphe through the bus window while stuck in traffic.
So the first place in Europe where I set my feet was Paris.
When you grow up gay in the suburbs of New York, you develop certain affinities. Like, for instance, the Broadway musical.
(I don’t mean to perpetuate any stereotypes. I actually know plenty of people who like musicals who aren’t from New York. And some of them are straight.)
I saw my first Broadway show in the summer of 1969. I was 13 years old. Even before the curtain went up, I knew there was nothing as thrilling as seeing a big live musical theatre production, sitting in the middle of the front row of the mezzanine. (“Mezzanine” is a word that doesn’t come up often outside of live theatre. It’s a pretty word.) (more…)
I’m feeling anxious.
I’ve had generalized anxiety before, nothing severe, but I’m feeling specifically anxious about this trip. I’ve got a nervous feeling in my gut and I’m not sleeping well, waking up in the middle of the night or much too early in the morning.
I’m not sure what I’m anxious about, though there are some possibilities.
Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going. (Paul Theroux)
I started this post writing about my enthusiasm for seeing Sarajevo because of the extraordinary history that city has experienced. This is the centennial year of the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria and his wife, Sophie, the touchstone for World War I. It’s also 30 years since Sarajevo hosted the Winter Olympics. (I came across some photos of the facilities that were used in the 1984 games and have since gone to neglect or damage from the Yugoslav War.) And it’s stunning to think about what was going on in Sarajevo and throughout the areas I’ll be visiting just 20 years ago.