Old school tourist memories

When I read Marina’s post at Me Exploring about how she used to travel, so many of my own memories lighted up that I just had to write some down. I love it when this happens.

1. Bouge de là

I plan things, so unsurprisingly many of the places we visit have to do with Jim Morrison. Sorry, parents. And art. I consider myself an expert since I was hopping around all these museums already with my two friends a few years earlier. By the time we reach Centre Pompidou, some feeble protests are heard. It’s been tiring. One of the last stops I prepared is the new Arc de Triomphe in the modern la Défense. It made quite an impression the first time. We climb it and then parents are sent to the hotel while sister and I follow the drum beat into the urban jungle. We occupy the bench opposite the drummers. We mingle. We feel we belong, after all we are about to see Urban Species in concert, before which we would be surrounded and held to the knife point by a gang of 8-year-olds. We were sitting down so they were taller. When we stood up, they dispersed like puppies. But that came later. For now we are trying to sell to a chill bunch a watch we have found on the park floor and teach them to say Bouge de là, from the song, in Slovenian: “Spizdi, man!” They repeat after us and we all laugh. No watch deal though.

2. No sleep till London

That is Paris, but London comes one year earlier. I’m so excited about the trip and my first time on the plane that I spend the night before the departure planning it all out with the thick London map book, writing addresses in my tiny notebook. How do I do it without the internet? Tracking down the MTV address in Camden is not that difficult. I have no idea what Camden is but am about to find out. We do the tourist traps too, such as the Madame Tussauds and some rock’n’roll museum or other. The funniest part is when we spot the British Telecom Tower in the distance and walk all the way to it because we think they carry stamps. Back home we have PTT: Post, Telegraph, Telephone, all in one. Mother has a meeting in the Parliament, for work. Father does most of the ordering and chitchatting because he, who has never learned English officially, is the only one not intimidated by the accent. The English here is nothing like the one we three women know from school. They seem to suffer when they speak. All those ups and downs.

3. Prague steal

Prague is our third family city in three years. I leave out most of the preparations. We just walk around, carrying a faithful guide book everywhere until the moment when I forget it in a restaurant. I notice it ten minutes later and return but, alas, the book is not where I was reading it just earlier and nobody has seen anything. Damn the country where they steal guide books. The highlight is the visit to the Slovenian ambassador. He greets us on the stairs with a Jack Nicholson smile. He is a great entertainer, full of stories of incompetent secretaries who pour glassfuls of whisky and buy bunny rabbit napkins. Sister and I wear Doc Martens which we probably bought in Camden. We don’t have any other shoes with us. He comments that this is the first time such footwear has been seen in his home. We chase his official car around Prague to reach the venue in the Castle where a Slovenian choir is about to perform, and father is thrilled to live out some of his Hollywood chase dream sequences.

4. Crete on repeat

We know how it will go since we did the same around the Peloponnese peninsula the previous summer for half a month. Now we have one whole month, the largest Greek island and two Peugeots, one of them my 504. You take an island, choose the direction and follow the first road to the sea, the smaller the better. Or a dry creek if you have door-stoppers installed to make your car taller. Find a tree. Sleep under it in a sleeping bag. Wake up, swim, repeat until you’re ready to move on. Move on. We have a map and not much else. Actually three maps, Crete is long. The only roof that I need is the car roof. Some name places stick: the Samaria gorge, all eight hours of it, in my All Stars with only Greek honey-nut bars to eat and all the water I can drink flowing by. Vai with its palm grove in the east. Preveli Beach and its Vietnam feel (AS IF I’ve ever been). Matala in the south and its hot African wind and ex-hippie caves that they now charge you to view and which I ignore as much as I ignore all the ancient monuments and sleep in front of Knossos instead of entering. I only need the nature, and now I have it here all year round.

5. The Karpathos game

It’s years later. Times have changed and we do indeed have the internet. It’s still Greece but now I travel in pair. Every year we (i.e. I) pick an island and book accommodation, we hop on the charter plane, rent a scooter and explore the entire island in a week. It’s not random, I pick the best spots in advance by Googling, but the travelling companion also prefers smallest streets and dry creeks so it’s safe to say that those scooters see certain new places. Karpathos is chosen because it comes recommended by my favourite classmate into my ear at the last reunion. “You will not be sorry,” he says. It is not as well-known, therefore I turn to a Slovenian travel forum for the first time. I find a detailed fun account of a recent travel and respond enthusiastically, the internet noob that I am, and before I know it we are invited by this couple who went there one year ago to a nearby town to view their photos on a big screen. Not only that, we are also given five neat envelopes with photos of recipients and places where to find them. To deliver them in person. What a genius game plan! Not only we get to visit the best places, we are granted instant smiles and even some treats as a reward. We are not in touch any more, either with that couple or with each other, but I will never be sorry for this week of Karpathos.

ADD-IT: In the envelopes there were photos of the recipients and the visiting couple. I fixed it now but initially forgot to mention it.


All these travels were done in predigital times, that’s why I do the next best thing and show you some of my Prague photos from my second time there in the summer of 2012. It was much better. Pearl Jam were in town.

I haven’t even met amore yet in person. And by next April I was already living in Tuscany. The travels I do now are there and back twice a year, and heavily preplanned day trips around Tuscany that I will never see whole no matter how much I plan.

I suppose it’s best to combine the old school travelling with the new ideas – and people – that the internet brings. Not all bad at all.

 

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19 thoughts on “Old school tourist memories

  1. This was so nice to read through, brought me back some memories, too, of my first family trips 🙂 and and and you lucky girl you heard Pearl Jam live??! That’s high up on my wish list 🙂

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        1. Yeah! 🙂 I’m not quite sure if there are still tickets to be had though but they might be. It’s a vast stadium. For some reason amore took VIP tickets. We shall see what that means. Never before!

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      1. I think I just found a new motto in your old post: “Looking at the map of the world after I haven’t seen it for a while, I’ve realised that it is indeed vast and it is good this way. I plan to live long.” 😄 and I wish my 10 year old self would already listen to PJ and they would be the first concert of my life in Ljubljana 😆

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  2. Haha, they steal anything they can, even guide books in foreign language 😆 or think about it in a positive way: what if some lost tourist just found your book – and got so happy?
    Question: where did you wash and brush your teeth on that natural road trip? (Sorry for such details) I imagine sleeping under the tree in a romantic light – but the practicality of whole thing keeps nagging at me 😆😆
    And such a touching story of a couple introducing you to Karpathos. Oh, that stops you from being another tourist and makes you into a friendly messenger. Love it!

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    1. Thank you, Marina. 🙂 I don’t mind any questions, ever. I have slept the entire month in the open and it’s been if not the best month then right up with the best of them. Not a cloud in the sky all month. I was “washing” in the sea (without soup – ADD-IT: hahahha, not soup, soap!) many times every day. Generally I don’t mind being salty after, actually I love it. The first swim after waking was marvellous. Truth be told, even though I did wash my hair here and there in a shower we found outdoors, my hair was on a good way to turn into dreadlocks. I was washing my teeth with the water from the bottle and we were washing the dishes in the sea (without detergent). We cooked once a day and once ate out (if there was a restaurant nearby, but usually we were alone for miles). Another truth be told: one couple that started out with us couldn’t keep up, the girl got all bloated from nerves and had to go home. She expected hotels, I’m afraid. Poor prepping on their friend’s part (I didn’t know them before).

      All in all, great memories and the Karpathos one was really special. Thank you for the kick to write this!

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      1. It all sounds so hippie and resonates with my gypsy soul! But my other, grown-up side says “egh” at the thought of salty water in my hair and on my body every time. How old were you then? I think, for a younger me it would be so cool! I once slept 3 nights in a Moscow railway station, for a change. So I know what discomfort is. But now I got too lazy and I want my hotel and my bathroom :)))

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        1. I had a look back and it seems it was 1998, since France was the soccer World Cup champion and we watched the finals in a little bar in a little village and they were surprised why we rooted for Galia (France in Greek) but we are not French. 😀 That makes me 28 years at the time. NO WAY I could do it again now. 😉 All in its sweet time!

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  3. Isn’t it lovely when we are able to bounce off each other’s vibes and create something afresh. 😊 I like the way you always tie people and events together. I’ve always thought about touring in the rough, particularly in mountains and alpine villages. Guess with the allure of modern technology it is rather (date I say) challenging to let go of the creature comforts.

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    1. Thank you, Jolene. 🙂 Yes, it’s the best feeling to be spurred into writing something. Mountains in the rough would be so much more challenging. Greece in August is a safe bet weather-wise (unless your tin and skin melt). I liked sleeping in the open air so much that I kept doing it on my terrace after returning home for a while. 🙂

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    1. Thank you, Jolandi. 🙂 I often notice that I’m much more inclined to put it into words if there are no pictures of something. For the last five years or so I carry my camera with me almost all the time, so it’s not much chance of that. It’s lazy-making, wordwise, but I still love it.

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      1. I know exactly what you mean. I often force myself during my travels to venture out without a camera so that I can absorb the feel of the place with my other senses, and not just my eyes. It does make one lazy, when a photograph can tell its own story, but I do love the images created in my mind through the use of skillful words.

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  4. And now you’ve brought back so many of OUR family travel memories! I’ll spare you for now; maybe I’ll squeeze some oldies in among the Italy posts that I’m supposed to be working on now … 🙂

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