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How We Travel
It is interesting to consider how differently different people travel. We have a very definite style, but it is unlike what so many of our friends do. Our friends Doug and Nancy, for example, like their travels well organized and planned ahead, and they enjoy a knowledgeable guide.
Their eminently sensible rationale is that they do not want to waste any of their days abroad in an unsuccessful foray or substandard accommodations (and as we all know, the blunder into a bad hotel is not necessarily cheap). Plus, they want to be sure to see the most interesting things (and to know something about what they are seeing). And last but not least, they don't like to have to do the work, when they are trying to rest from work and enjoy a vacation, of booking rooms, studying maps, and working out itineraries.
Our other friends Lynn and Cy do their own extensive research and spare no expense to taste and see the very best their destination has to offer, also a rational approach. If you are spending the money to go, why not make it count.
As much as these and other approaches make sense to me, it is not what we like to do. We do a bit of research up front, and Craig leaves the details all to me. I get a map, buy a guide, and read it. Impulse then rules. We like to go and get our bearings, and then strike out for a destination that has caught our fancy. From there we simply muddle on.
The hazard of this approach is that there are things we later realize we didn't know about and missed, we sometimes get off track, we end up in the occasional dump, and sometimes go to bed without a satisfactory dinner. While I won't say we wouldn't prefer not to have any of these mishaps, they are often the things we remember best and laugh over. Perversely, we enjoy our blunders.
France comes to mind. In the dead of winter, years ago, we were touring the Loire Valley, which we loved, but somehow we ended up late in the day in the industrial Midi of France. A train to our next destination (Nice, I think) was not available until 8:08 am the next day.
Why do I remember the time to the minute? Because of course the train was the "huit-huit" in French. Sounds like weet-weet. There was much discussion of the weet-weet as I tried to ascertain whether we were truly stuck in this little town for the night. Craig, who does not speak French, listened with growing curiosity, like Ginger the dog: blah blah weet-weet blah blah blah weet-weet, blah blah, we said, the conductor and I, on and on.
So there we were, in bitter cold. We got a very homely little room upstairs of an even homelier eatery (I cannot think what else to call it). There was a four-star restaurant in this little town, but for some reason it was unavailable. The hour? The season?
Things were starting to close up and our toes were starting to freeze, so we bought a bottle of wine, a baguette, a hunk of cheese and some pate, and retired to our room, where we found a miraculous supply of hot water. The proprietors probably still remark upon the strange Americans who took such long, hot showers. I stood under the scalding water until my skin was red. Then we had our snack, actually a rather fine dinner! And went to sleep nice and warm. The next day we caught the huit-huit for Nice.
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