Travel Barmy

I haven’t been every where.  But it’s on my list

Susan Sontang


Well Barmy followers, we’re off again — this time to Central Europe.

We leave next week and the list of things to do is sobering.  Absentee voting, preparing the house for our exchange partners, but the most challenging will be cramming everything into a backpack.

Yes, we are packing light this trip, as we’ll be traveling solely by train and bus while visiting several big cities.  So in a moment of madness, and after watching an inspiring ‘packing light with Rick Steves video’,  I agreed with the notion that  we would each take one (that’s one) backpack.  Thank goodness for my compact little Kindle full of unread books.

First stop; Prague. Watch this space for photos and travel journal.  Please be kind and ignore us wearing the same clothes.  (We will have washing machines in each apartment we’re staying, so our clothes will be clean, but may look vaguely familiar.)

In the meantime, I’ll re-post one of my most popular blog entries…


The Un-Comfort Zone

The joy (and the challenge) of travel is often what I call the un-comfort zone. And the in-transit part really proves that concept.  California to Europe is a grueling 11-12 hour flight.

At first, one anticipates this time as a delightful sort of  suspended animation — so much time to read. But, by hour 6 you have lost all interest in reading, watching movies or being civil to your travel companion.  By hour 7, you are slipping in and out of sleep in a semi-conscious state.  Hour 9 – and you are ready to admit that traveling is the pits and consider a second mortgage to upgrade to first class.  By the last two hours you are picking at the in-flight breakfast, looking at your watch and secretly wishing you had stayed home with NetFlix..  The flight ends and you glare at the annoying guy in front of you who spent the entire flight with his seat fully reclined into your lap. And with with crusty eyes and swollen ankles you stumble off the plane.

Then you find your way to the train (let’s see train in German — Bahn?) and check into the budget hotel you found right next to the train station. Your room overlooks a busy street corner and you wonder how you will sleep.  After quick showers (and figuring out said same shower system) you feel almost human and together you strike out to walk around, get some fresh air, daylight and try to adapt to the new time zone. A light meal is in order so you choose a cute cafe with outdoor seating and order the inevitable room-temperature drinks and an overpriced salad to share. You start to relax – watching the locals come home from work and you sigh with happiness.  The blatt blatt of the European police car in the distance, the striking of the church bells, and your surly waiter all secure the fact  — you have arrived.

You are far away from home.  A familiar world where you understand the plumbing, a world with cold drinks (and ice), a place where you don’t have to give serious thought to every choice — and all in a language you fully comprehend.

This is the joy and pain of what I call the un-comfort zone.  One has to embrace the discomfort — because this is what kicks your butt out of your safe, easy and predictable world —  you have shaken off your soft world and taken on one that is often confusing, uncomfortable yet inevitably  fascinating, beautiful and eye-opening.

This is why you travel – this why you are here.

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