From Tony Bourdain’s brother: “Here is this guy who has had these travel experiences that nobody could ever have. And yet, in some respects, I’ve had better travel experiences in the last couple of years. Because I can wander aimlessly for five hours alone or with my wife in Berlin, or in Barcelona, or in Paris. I’ve done it, you know? I just love wandering around aimlessly. Going down streets I haven’t seen. And he couldn’t do that. He never got a chance to wander around the streets of Paris or Berlin or Hanoi. I have had that chance and I’ve done it. I don’t know if it’s better or worse or just different. I don’t know. But it was ironic.”
If you think about it, how would someone like Bourdain explore a big city without being recognized and mobbed by fans? When I explore a city, I can go anywhere I want, without a crowd, and in total anonymity.
I just started reading Paul Theroux’s Deep South. In the first chapter, he writes: “Most travel narratives, perhaps all of them (including mine), even the classics, describe the miseries and splendors of going from one remote place to another. The quest, the getting there, the difficulty of the road, is the story. The journey, not the arrival matters, and most of the time, the traveler – the traveler’s mood, especially – is the subject of the whole business.”
Yes, I have fallen into a trap. I try to give some background about the places I visit. Then I try to add something interesting, like a unique tourist site or meal, perhaps a story about meeting somebody interesting. And I always try to provide a perspective on the place I visit.
Trying to recall what I think are my best stories:
The flat tire in Patagonia, trying to change the tire with the owner’s manual in Spanish.
Missing my train in Yekaterinburg (Russia), unable to change my ticket until a stranger appeared on my behalf.
Spending two weeks with Barry the V in Cape Town, when we said we would just stay one night!
Crossing the Berlin Wall at Checkpoint Charlie in 1971 with the American hippie couple.
Making lifelong friends in Cambodia, Malaysia, Peru, South Africa, Thailand, and Greece.
Driving Chile from top to bottom.
My two favorite trips: Angkor Wat, and the Amazon.
There are, of course, many more stories, some of which you may have found amusing. My goal is always to inform and entertain. I am not trying to make you jealous. Rather, I am hoping to stimulate your desire to travel.