Showing posts with label geezer travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label geezer travel. Show all posts

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

A Summer’s Novel (and not-so-novel) Destinations

The morning sunrise seems softer and the green leaves are showing hints of red and gold – both sure signs that August is leading us into an early autumn in our corner of the Pacific Northwest. It is the time of lazy afternoons on the deck soaking up the last of summer  ~ a time of travel to novel, and not-so-novel, destinations without leaving the chaise lounge.

Armchair, or deck chair, travelers, this post is for you. No packing or security pre-check required. Sit back as we are off to. . .

Jerusalem. . .

Jerusalem, Israel
“Jerusalem is the universal city, the capital of two peoples, the shrine of three faiths; it is the prize of empires, the site of Judgment Day and the battlefield of today’s clash of civilizations. From King David to the 21st century, from the birth of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam to the Israel-Palestine conflict, this is the epic history of three thousand years of faith, slaughter, fanaticism, and coexistence.”opening line of Amazon’s description of this book

We visited Jerusalem on one of those one-day-see-everything-you-can cruise ship tours last year. It was the one city of all the magical places we’d visited that didn’t ‘grab’ us.  Perhaps we’d seen too much before arriving there, perhaps the crowds were too enormous, perhaps any number of things caused us to be less than ‘wow’ed’ by this place. 

The glimpse we had - though hasty - of its historical places left us wanting to know more about it: the conflicts that make up its history, how that ‘real’ history meshes with the Biblical version. . .we needed to fill in some blanks and answer some questions.

And one of the best books we’ve found to do that, is the book pictured to the right by Simon Sebag Montefiore.

At 704-pages it is not a light read in any sense of the phrase. But it is an easy read and a fascinating journey.

Middle East. . .

Wadi Rum - Jordan
She has been called the female Lawrence of Arabia, which, while not inaccurate, fails to give Gertrude Bell her due. She was at one time the most powerful woman in the British Empire: a nation builder, the driving force behind the creation of modern-day Iraq. – Amazon books

Our fascination with the Middle East continues, even now, months after our introduction to it on that Magic Carpet Ride of a cruise last year. 

While images of Lawrence of Arabia came to mind while we traveled there, it wasn't until this year that we read about Gertrude Bell. I have to admit that it was not until I was channel surfing for movies aboard a transatlantic flight a few months ago, and landed on one called,“Queen of the Desert” starring Robert Pattison and Nicole Kidman, released in 2015, had I ever heard of Gertrude Bell and her mark on history.

After reading this book, I don't think the movie does  justice to this woman’s amazing adventures and contributions! Before she conquered the desert she climbed a few mountains. Too bad they didn’t have ‘blogs’ back then – hers would have had millions of followers.

Egypt. . .

Diwa Bookstore - Cairo, Egypt - a must for visitors
I know many of you swear by your Kindles and electronic books, but for us there is nothing better than discovering a bookstore in a new city and spending a good deal of time there looking at covers, flipping through pages.  That was the case with Diwa Bookstore in the Zamelik district of Cairo.  We couldn’t resist buying three of the oh, so many, titles that tempted. . .many by writers of whom we’d never heard of before but whom we've since found on Amazon (so you don't need to go to Cairo to find the book).

This sweeping novel depicts the intertwined lives of an assortment of Egyptians--Muslims and Copts, northerners and southerners, men and women--as they begin to settle in Egypt's great second city, and explores how the Second World War, starting in supposedly faraway Europe, comes crashing down on them, affecting their lives in fateful ways.

Central to the novel is the story of a striking friendship between Sheikh Magd al-Din, a devout Muslim with peasant roots in northern Egypt, and Dimyan, a Copt with roots in southern Egypt, in their journey of survival and self-discovery.  - Amazon books

This book may have been one of the best ‘reads’ we’ve had this year.  The other two books, not novels, pictured above, were also excellent.  On the left, ‘The Man in the White Sharkskin Suit: A Jewish Family’s Exodus from Cairo to the New World” (2008) is written by Lucette Lagnado about her family’s relocation to the United States from Cairo. An amazing tale.

“Six Days: How the 1967 War Shaped the Middle East” is an almost hour-by-hour look at the six day war that took place way back when we were too young to understand war or how it would shape the Middle East. Written by Jeremy Bowen, who from 1995 – 2000 was the BBC’s Middle East Correspondent, the book is a must for anyone trying to understand what has led to today’s conflicts there. It doesn't provide all the answers, but it certainly puts them in perspective.

Australia. . .

Sydney Opera House from our cruise ship deck
After four harrowing years on the Western Front, Tom Sherbourne returns to Australia and takes a job as the lighthouse keeper on Janus Rock, nearly half a day’s journey from the coast. To this isolated island, where the supply boat comes once a season, Tom brings a young, bold, and loving wife, Isabel. Years later, after two miscarriages and one stillbirth, the grieving Isabel hears a baby’s cries on the wind. A boat has washed up onshore carrying a dead man and a living baby.                    – Amazon Books

To tell you much more about this novel than the summary by Amazon would simply tell you too much about the plot. A friend loaned this to me while we were in Greece and I am ever so glad she did.

 This has to be one of the most powerful, and yet dark, books – a look at love and at human nature; good versus bad – that I’ve read in a long time. A bit of a tear-jerker as well.

One of the most unusual narratives and the setting so remote. . .you actually could feel the loneliness. . .

Seattle. . .

0911800-R1-007-2 [630928]
Seattle as seen from a ferry on Puget Sound
Inara Erickson is exploring her deceased aunt's island estate when she finds an elaborately stitched piece of fabric hidden in the house. As she peels back layer upon layer of the secrets it holds, Inara's life becomes interwoven with that of Mei Lein, a young Chinese girl mysteriously driven from her home a century before.  -- Amazon books

This book has a 4.5 star out of 5 rating on Amazon with more than 600 reviews, so don’t just take our word for how good this first-novel by Seattle writer, Kelli Estes, is!  Another friend gave me this book for Christmas and again I am so glad she did.

Amazon’s review doesn’t do justice to the book that tells an amazing love story based on real life tragedies in this city’s past.  Just as Jamie Ford’s “The Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet” told of the injustices committed her against the Japanese in Seattle during World War II, Estes tells of the treatment of the Chinese immigrants through a narrative that bounces between the present and the late 1800's.

Greece. . .

Entryway at our Stone House on the Hill
Sofia’s love life has ended in disaster. Having lost her London home, she now lives with and cares for her Greek grandmother, matriarch of the family, astute business woman, and widow of an English man. Sofia hears stories from the past, of her grandparents’ meeting and life in the remote coastal village of Galini on the Greek island of Tritinos. When her grandmother dies, she bequeaths to Sofia the family house in Galini, with one condition attached.   -- Amazon Books

Sofia's House by [Gordon, William]
Now you didn't think I could leave out Greece, did you?

Long-time readers of Travelnwrite will remember the English writer and his editor wife, Bill and Val Kitson, who we met by chance several years ago on Crete’s southern coast in a tiny village called Loutro. We’ve stayed in touch and since the initial meeting have rendezvoused in that village to celebrate Greek Easter a short time ago.

While Bill has any number of novels to his Bill Kitson name, he also writes as William Gordon. And some of those 'pen name' novels are set in Greece, like Watering the Olives. Late last year were honored to have him select a photo of mine of our Stone House on the Hill to be the cover photo of his Greek novel, Sofia’s House.

If you just need a bit of romance on a Greek island -- with a plot twist or two thrown in -- this is the book for you!

That’s a bit of our ‘summer arm chair travels'. How about you?  Any good novel – or not-so-novel – destinations to recommend to others?  Send us an email with the name of the book, the author (where and how to buy it) and why you recommend it. If I get enough responses, I’ll do another post featuring your recommendations for arm chair travels.

Again, we appreciate the time you spend with us. Thanks for sharing our posts on FB!  Hope your summer is going well and that your travels continue to be healthy and safe.  See you next week – bring some friends and family with you!

Disclaimer:  In the beginning I displayed books to purchase from Amazon on this site, then I realized I was simply taking up valuable blog space. I am technically still an Amazon Associate - however, I've never sold a book thus never earned a dime. So I am recommending these books because they are good reads in our opinion - not because I am trying to make a few pennies off a sale of a book.

Linking this week with:
Through My Lens
Our World Tuesday
Wordless Wednesday
Travel Photo Thursday – 
Photo Friday
Weekend Travel Inspiration

Monday, September 8, 2014

Travel IS a Lifestyle

This summer we missed the Sardine Festival in Agios Nikolaos (Saint Nicholas), a delightful coastal town in the Greek Peloponnese by two weeks because we’d returned to Kirkland,our Pacific Northwest home.

Waterfront Agios Nikolaos -Messinian Mani, Greece
We also missed Kirkland’s Fourth of July celebrations by two weeks – because we were in Greece.

“We travel not to escape life,
but for life to not escape us.”
          -- Unknown
A return from the grocery store in Kardamyli meant a walk through the olive grove
Approaching Athens
. . .While in Greece we missed a friend’s wedding in Kirkland. . .

. . .But back in Kirkland, Washington I missed the opportunity to go with a new friend ‘on a dig’ in archaeology-rich Greece. . .

We’ve come to accept these bits of mistimed happenstance because we’ve made travel our lifestyle.

It is no longer an isolated activity with defined start and stop dates – occurring once or twice a year as it did back in our ‘8 to 5’ workaday lives.

We’ve found that what we’ve missed in one place or another is more than compensated by what we have gained in terms of everyday life experiences elsewhere.  For example, had I not missed that Kirkland wedding, I wouldn’t have made a new friend in Kardamyli who wanted me to go on a dig with her.

Istanbul, Turkey street scene

“To travel is to live.”
                        -- Hans Christian Andersen
If you can dream it, you can do it. . .
The travel lifestyle is flexible:

The travel lifestyle isn’t always a well-thought out, predictable one. It is difficult to commit to events or activities too far distant. Our calendars are built around upcoming trips ~ always with enough wiggle room to take advantage of unplanned outings. . .those that blindside our brains with their utter spontaneity.

My friend Tina - hotelier in Pylos, Greece

Some friends wistfully ask, “Can you tell us how? We want to be like you.”

Others prefer to scold us, “You are never home!
Yet others have asked, “Where do you live now?”

In fact, our travel lifestyle provides us many ‘homes’ - each with a sense of community and circle of friends. We are at ‘home’ in any number of places these days.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights, it is a change that goes on,
deep and permanent in the ideas of living.”
-- Miriam Beard (1876 – 1958)
Adopting a travel lifestyle is really no different than taking up some other hobby – playing golf, gardening, joining a musical group, or creating handicrafts --  except it is a bit more encompassing and less of a single focus. From fashion to food, travel has an impact on our lifestyle. . .
Laundry day at 'home' in Loutro, Crete
Travel Lifestyles focus on fashion.

We have a different approach these days to clothing and fashion. Our wardrobe is selected in terms of how many places in the world could we wear the item, will it fit into the smallest of bags possible – and will we be able to carry the bag up or down a flight of stairs.

We think about:

* the weight and bulk a garment (or shoes!) will add to the suitcase,
*whether the decorative metal buttons and zippers will set off security alarms at airports (as have some of my Chico’s garments).
*the ease of cleaning (and drying time).

Bags are packed - leaving Nafpaktos, Greece
“One’s destination is never a place,
but a new way of seeing things.”
                   -- Henry Miller
Food and feasts. . .but, of course they are part of a Travel Lifestyle!

Restaurant window in Istanbul, Turkey
What traveler doesn’t look forward to the new foods awaiting in some new locale? (And in reality, what traveler doesn’t need to ‘go on the wagon’ after a trip to shed the pounds brought back like souvenirs?)

When travel becomes a lifestyle and any number of locations could be ‘home’ then it becomes necessary to watch the diet and exercise – we make exercise (the formal ‘go-to-the-gym’ kind) as routine as possible where ever we find ourselves.

We also eat ‘local’ which often means discovering new and wonderful tastes  -- poke, the marinated raw fish dishes in Hawaii, barbequed ribs in Arizona, fish and chips in London and moussaka in Greece – then looking forward to a return so that we can enjoy the flavors again.

PicMonkey Collage
Sushi in Maui, breakfast Porto Cayo, wine in Galaxidi, fruit in Ag. Roumeli, Greece, sushi, Hawaii
While our travel lifestyle keeps us living out of a suitcase for several months a year, we still maintain a ‘home base’ in the Pacific Northwest.  Unlike us there are some Americans (non military) who have packed up and chosen to live  – either full or part-time – in some country outside the United States. While there are no hard and fast figures, estimates range from 2.2 – 6.8 million such vagabonds.
  Where do you fall in the travel lifestyle spectrum?  Or, is travel a lifestyle for you?
 Travel is most rewarding when it ceases to be about your reaching a destination
and becomes indistinguishable from living your life.
                           --Paul Theroux
Again thanks for spending time with us. Welcome to our new subscribers and followers! And a big shout out to those of you who’ve shared our posts on Facebook and Twitter – or recommend us to others; we are always flattered when you think a post is worthy of sharing!

Linking up with and hope you'll stop by:
Budget Travelers Sandbox - Travel Photo Thursday
Reflections En Route - Weekend Travel Inspirations
Lavender Cottage Gardening - Mosaic Monday

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Happy New Year! Happy Travels!

Media headlines have been noting the Mayan calendar's ‘end of the world’ prediction for December, 2012. To our way of thinking it’s as a good a reason as any to travel more this year!
France Vegas Mike G. 2009 050After all, we have a lot of places yet to see on this big old world before it - or we - cease to exist. 

Our bucket list – the one where we note new places to see, things to do, and favorite places that call out for a  return  visit – just seems to get longer each year.

We’ve already put Asia, Australia and Bali on the fall destination list. We’ve scheduled time in Scottsdale. And this month “Hula Babe and Beach Boy” head back to Hawaii for  more tropical adventures.  In between those planned excursions, we’ll keep our bags at the ready for any other adventures and misadventures that await us. 

What adventures are ahead for you? What’s on your 2012 bucket list?

DSCF2065As one travel year ends and another beckons we thank you for joining us at TravelnWrite and hope you’ll continue traveling with us.
Along with our wishes for a Happy New Year and Happy Travels, I am adding this poem, which I found on the blog* of a fellow traveler:

On an ancient wall in China
Where a brooding Buddha blinks
Deeply graven is the message,
It is later than you think.
The clock of time is wound but once and no
man has the power,
to tell just when the hand will stop
at late or early hour.
Now is all the time you own,
the past a golden link
Go cruising now my brother,
It is later than you think.

Note:  *Raymond’s Man on the Lam blog. Photos: Paris at daybreak and us on Celebrity’s transatlantic cruise.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Are we travel Gonzos or Geezers?

Gonzos or Geezers
The question has been nagging since a recent e-chat with a self-described '20-something' vagabond/blogger who shares our passion for travel and also writes a (very popular) blog, Nomadic Matt's Travel Site.  His blogging goals are much like mine: inspire others to travel, to stretch their comfort zones, and of course, offer tips for doing it as cheaply as possible. I call him the "Rick Steves of the 21st Century".

The circumstances of Matt and I e-chatting are irrelevant. But the questions he asked have left me pondering a bigger question: are we Gonzo (gutsy, no-fear,  long-term explorers) or Geezer (somewhat cautious old folks on the move) travelers. . .and I've decided we are poster children for a new genre:  Gonzo Geezers!

Matt had asked me:
"How often do you travel? All the time?"
"How long are your trips?"
"Would you consider yourself 'backpackers?"
"Where do you travel to?"
"Are you retired?"

I suspect my answers left the decades-younger-than-me traveler rolling his eyes and pronouncing us geezers.

But I am comforted the memory of a chat last fall with a fellow traveler (of my age) who asked of our after-cruise-plans. I replied, "We've got two weeks and plan to explore Greece but we don't know where we will go.  We've might just catch the first ferry to leave after we get off the ship and go where it takes us."

"Oh my!," she exclaimed, "You are so brave!  We've gotten too old to do that. . . but I am not sure we would have done that even when we could have."

A five-week trip began with city bus
to SeaTac - we took carry-ons
j.smith photo, (c) 2010 
And as for that backpack: We come across many our age who are traveling just as much - if not more than us - and frankly, we don't see many of them lugging those body-sized packs. . .well, maybe small carry-on size, if for no other reason than to carry those meds. Nuts, the pills alone required for even  healthy middle age, could fill a small backpack. Ever tried to pack one of those fish oil tablet bottles? It's the size of a Coho salmon. And sadly. . .wearing a suit or cocktail dress on cruise ship formal nights that you've just pulled out of the REI all-weather pack, does cause heads to turn.
25-euros a night -
Southern Coast of Crete
j.smith photo (c) 2010

We hike and log many, many miles  on our trips. What we don't want to hike is a hallway in the middle of the night to get to a bathroom. We seek cheap accommodations, but our standards are high. The room must be clean, the bed free of bedbugs and  EN SUITE bathroom is a must.  (Someday those Gonzo 20-somethings will understand that magic word, en suite.)

Re-tired? No, we've re-treaded into a new life style.

So how about you?
Have you re-tired or re-treaded into new adventures?
Are you a Gonzo Geezer?
If you're an armchair traveler, where would you go if you could?
They are questions worth pondering.

(And Matt, tuck a copy of this post away. Read it again when you are sucking air to blow out the candles on your 50th birthday.  My answers will make more sense to you then.)


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