Shaking the Dust Off My Feet

07 October 2009 · 3 comments

“I’m shakin’ the dust of this crummy little town off my feet and I’m gonna see the world: Italy, Greece, the Parthenon, the Colosseum.” — George Bailey in It’s a Wonderful Life

For years, I’ve wanted to make travel a priority. I’ve had tastes of adventure now and then recently, but it’s never been something that I had the time or the money to pursue.

Now, however, it looks like I may be able to finally make travel a recurring part of my life. In the past week, three trips for 2010 have fallen into place. When combined with my tentative plans for 2011, I have a lot of fun ahead of me:

  • Early next spring, I’ll fly to Washington, D.C., to attend a blog conference. Thought the conference is only a day, I’m hoping that Kris and I can spend a week or so exploring the city. Maybe we’ll even venture up to New York.
  • Later in the spring, Mac and I will travel to Alaska with my neighbor, John. John is retired. He spends his summers puttering around on a fishing boat. We’ll join him for a jaunt from Petersburg to Sitka.
  • Next autumn, Kris and I will take our trip to Europe. First we’ll spend time in Italy exploring Venice, Florence, and Rome. Then we’ll take the train to France, where she’s booked us on a river cruise from Paris to Normandy. (If I had my way, we’d do the river cruise and then take a tour of southern France. We’d save Italy for another trip. But Kris — who is always right — says this will be more fun.)
  • In 2011, I have tentative plans to hike across England with my colleague Fraser from Astronomy Today. We’ll spend a few weeks on one of the many walking paths. I’m actually hoping that one or more of my other friends can join us.

Beyond these trips, who knows? These are pretty tame, I know. I’d love to venture to Latin America or Southeast Asia at some point. And I’ve always wanted to visit Africa. There’s a chance I’ll join Chris Guillebeau for a trip to Ethiopia in the fall of 2011. We’ll see. That’s a long way off.

1 Tyler Karaszewski October 9, 2009 at 22:00

From my experience, difficulty in any particular country is inversely proportional to the number of people there who speak a language you know. Most people are friendly and want to be helpful (even if they’ll charge you for it) anywhere in the world, the biggest challenge is not being able to ask them for help.

Note that I’ve never been to any particularly undeveloped countries (Ethiopia might be one) where there really are no services or economy to speak of. The “most foreign” place I’ve been is India. Asking directions is hard, but really, getting by is pretty easy when you’ve brought a passport that says USA on it with you, and you have thousands of dollars you can withdraw at any ATM if you need to.

International travel is intimidating the first time or two, but after a couple of trips you learn what you can expect, and start to become comfortable with the sorts of things you know will be inevitable.

2 Frugal Bachelor October 10, 2009 at 08:15

Ethiopia is very high on the list of countries I approve of.

Ethiopia is probably the most beautiful country on the planet, particularly the green central highlands. The tourism board’s slogan is “13 months of sunshine”. For someone from Oregon who is lucky to get 13 hours of sunshine per year, JD will love Ethiopia, and will never want to go back home. And after going to Ethiopia, maybe JD will finally stop describing his upbringing as poor, and finally stop taking all of what was handed to him for granted, after he takes a one block walk from his four-star hotel compound and sees people fighting over cardboard shacks, and doing inhumane backbreaking work, just for survival.

There are vast services and infrastructure in urban Ethiopia; Addis is the home to the Africa Union, which is sort of the UN for Africa. It is much easier to travel in, than most other sub-Saharan Africa countries. And the Ethiopian cuisine is absolutely spectacular, last time I was there I gained about 10 pounds.

UK, Italy and France are some of the haughtiest and most indulgent countries on the planet, with highly objectionable weather.

3 Andrew Parker October 22, 2009 at 21:15

re DC: if you fly into Dulles, make a little time to drop in at the new Air & Space Museum nearby (this is out in the sticks, not downtown). This enormous hangar facility houses an incredible collection including an SR71 Blackbird and the space shuttle Enterprise. With all of the great museums (most of them free) plus the halls of power all so close together, one day down on the Mall won’t be nearly enough – carve out as much time as you can! (Think about scheduling a visit to your representatives – their offices can help with some tours…)

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