Saturday, October 17, 2009

The Travel Bug

Now that he's retired, Walt has a perpetual itch to travel (though now that he's gone back to work for pay 2 days a week, I don't know how that will work exactly). He was happy to drive back to Boston with Phil and Lester after my mother's 90th birthday party and especially to spend a week wandering around Boston. It's his favorite thing--just go somewhere in a new town and walk around exploring.

He was all excited about the prospect of going with some of the 1st generation Pinata people on a tour of Turkey next year. Pat suggested it and we were discussing the pros and cons of taking a bus tour vs. a boat tour (where we wouldn't have to keep changing hotels every night).

Plans had not progressed all that far when word came that the woman organizing the tour we were talking about joining had postponed her tour for a year.

Char suggested that instead we look at the waterways of China or Russia, trading whirling dervishes for the Impressionists at the Hermitage, perhaps. Now the talk is about that trip.

It's such a strange feeling. Never in my wildest dreams did I ever think I'd see another country. That was what rich people did. People like me certainly never traveled.

To compensate for not being able to travel worldwide, we brought the world to us, in the form of all those foreign students who shared their lives, their foods, their music, and their culture with us over 10 years.

There was a bit of a crack in the "people like us can't afford to travel" when we sent Ned to Brasil. He was having a difficult time socially in school and seemed miserable and angry all the time. At the same time, our first exchange student, 22 year old Eduardo, with whom Ned had developed a very close relationship, invited him to come to Brasil for a visit. We discussed it and thought that if Ned could take a break from all of his tormentors, it might be the best thing for him.

It was so difficult to send him all the way to Brasil, but Eduardo and I communicated weekly, sometimes twice a week, trying to help him get through homesickness. I would write and tell Ned when I'd call and that I couldn't call often because it was so expensive. At the same time I'd call Eduardo when Ned was away at school and find out how he was really doing.

In the end, he stayed for a year and it seemed to have been the right decision, as by the time he returned, he had grown tall enough that the conflict with his fellow students just wasn't there any more. He also had a bit of self esteem that came with being fluent in a second language and taking a class in Portuguese at the University. You never know, as a parent, if you're making the right decision, but we did what seemed best.

But that trip opened the way to other kids traveling. Tom spent a summer in Brasil with our student Caico and his family. Jeri did a 6 week exchange with a girl in Germany in high school.

When Jeri graduated from college, with a degree in theatre, we thought we would send her to London to visit our friend Jane, and see The Phantom of the Opera in the theatre for which it was written. Then, when my father's estate settled and I had some money that I never wanted we decided that rather than do something sensible with the money we would take Jeri to London...and bring everybody else too. We had the best family vacation ever, with 2 weeks in London and a week in Ireland and the kids staying for another couple of weeks to travel around on a Eurail pass.

I still remember arriving at Heathrow, standing outside the airport waiting for a bus to take us to our hotel and thinking "I'm really in another country!" It seemed impossible to believe. (We had gone to Canada for our honeymoon, but somehow that didn't really qualify as "another country" because at that time we didn't need a passport to enter the country.)

Now we are "people who travel," I guess. We've been to England several times, to Ireland, to Scotland. I've been to Australia, France and Italy. Walt and I went to Paris for a day. And now we're talking about Russia or China and the next year maybe Turkey. I still want to do the cruise up the inland passage to Alaska and ride the train across the Canadian rockies, something we said we wanted to do nearly 45 years ago!)

But first, we're going to New York next month to see Jim Brochu open "Zero Hour" off Broadway. We've seen the play several times, but the chance to see his NY opening is just too good to pass up. And, since it's November, we're also going to see the Radio City Music Hall Christmas show, as we will probably never be in New York during the holiday time ever, ever again.

We spent last night trying to find affordable plane tickets, which, at this late date, is not exactly easy. We finally did find something relatively affordable, but it means leaving New York at 6:30 in the morning for the return flight and we don't have a clue what we have to do to make that happen. Walt finally found a couple of motels near La Guardia and thought we might book a room in one of those the night before so we can get to the airport on time without having to worry about leaving the city and encountering traffic on a Tuesday morning.

Priceline only had 4 seats left at the cheaper rate and I just know we will have middle seats, which is going to be very awkward because I'm always aware of making seatmates uncomfortable.'s only 8 hours, right? (that's one flight with a layover and then a second flight)


Mary Z said...

We've taken the boat trip in Russia from St. Petersburg to Moscow. It was a good trip. We did enjoy St. Petersburg most - could've spent days in the Hermitage. It's amazing to see how much money the czars (tsars???) spent and how much they used their slave labor. The Kremlin and some of Moscow was interesting, but mostly it was more of a big crowded city. The small towns and countryside were charming and fascinating.

Pattaya Lover said...

I'd be delighted to show you the wonderful sights of Bangkok if you and Walt stumble upon a bargain fare to my little part of the planet!

Richard S.

Bev Sykes said...

You got it, Richard!