Archive for March, 2011
This week the travel world is blogging about New Zealand, as a way to promote tourism in the wake of February’s earthquake in Christchurch. Although my own trip was to Auckland on the North Island, not Christchurch on the South, I still wanted to participate. I’ve spent the past few days thinking about where I visited and what to write, but what keeps coming to mind isn’t the sites I saw – it’s the people I met. I know it’s a generalization to say an entire city or country is full of nice people, but from what I experienced, New Zealand is completely worthy of that generalization.
Two weeks ago I quit my job as a legal editor and come Monday morning, will be starting a new gig at a new company as a web copywriter. It’s exciting, exhilarating, and exhausting all at once, and the past 14 days have been a whirlwind, as I’ve attempted to wrap up projects, keep on top of my writing and volunteer work, and mentally prepare for a new career.
And now, I’m tired. Very, very tired.
This article originally appeard in the Hamilton Spectator, February 2008.
Chris, my friend and tour guide while I was in Los Angeles, had ordered a death sentence of tequila. Called the “Blood and Sand,” I swear it’s a drink meant for those with numbed taste buds, livers of steel, or just a serious desire to do a face-plant into their peanuts. As I watched in horror, the bartender set a cocktail down in front of us, glowing purple and reeking of sugary rum. With a dramatic flourish, he raised a bottle of Jose Cuervo in the air, its spout in the shape of a bull’s head, and began pouring. And pouring. And pouring. Soon the mug was overflowing with tequila, and as he poured, the other customers yelled out “Toro! Toro! Olé!” with such ferocity I felt like I had stepped into the ring at a Barcelona bullfight and not into a pub in Hollywood.
Fat Tuesday—the last day of Mardi Gras—always gets me thinking about a trip I took to New Orleans several years ago with some girlfriends. By bus. (If I could offer just one piece of travel advice, it would be this: Don’t take a bus from Toronto to Louisiana.)
Common sense should have told us better than to venture on a cross-continent bus trip. And after thirty hours, five McDonald’s stops, and a 26er of duty-free vanilla vodka (don’t ask), I felt like I had abandoned my sense of adventure somewhere near the Windsor border. Our bodies ached from being in cramped quarters, and our bus mates were grating on our nerves. But then, we arrived in New Orleans. Which is when I realized—if I could offer just two pieces of travel advice, the second would be this: No matter how miserable the ride, the destination can make it all worthwhile.
Sometimes, I worry that the market for travel writing will one day be nothing more than requests for generic guidebook descriptions, Top 10 Lists, and articles written more for SEO than storytelling. What will happen to the long-form narrative that whisks me away to faraway lands, lures me into another culture, and lets me eavesdrop on strangers’ conversations? Sure, those quickie profiles help when I’m planning a trip, but when I settle down with a cup of tea on a drizzly day like today, I want to be told a story. So, in this Weekend Escape, I offer up some fab narrative travel pieces I discovered this week: ones that feature the type of writing that made me want to be a travel writer in the first place.
I have a special soft spot in my heart for Winterlude. Which is appropriate because this year, well, Winterlude was a little soft. It wasn’t their fault, though. I blame Mother Nature, who chose the worst possible time to inflict a 10 degree temperature spell in southern Ontario: during the last weekend of the Winterlude festival, which also coincided with the insanely busy Family Day long weekend.