Posted tagged ‘hostels’

“I am not the same, having seen the moon shine on the other side of the world.”

July 20, 2017

The weather has settled into monotony. Every day is sunny and hot. We reached the mid 80’s yesterday while Boston was over 90˚. The shade was bearable, but the sun was unrelenting. The only times I went outside were to bring Gracie to the yard where I sat in the shade and waited for her.

I did nothing yesterday and will probably do nothing today as well. A dump run is in our future but probably tomorrow. I do need to water the plants, inside and outside, but that’s it.

When I was a teacher, I traveled every summer, mostly to Europe, and went for three or four weeks. I traveled on the cheap. Go Europe was my travel Bible. University housing and hostels were my hotels as such. Meals were sometimes at bar happy hours where I’d nurse a single drink until I’d eaten my fill or at railroad stations which had kiosks with cheap sandwiches. I usually traveled with a friend. B&B’s were sometimes our stops mostly through Ireland, Scotland and England. I remember one in London, in Earl’s Court. The owner barely spoke English and played music quite loud from the kitchen which was next to my room. The song I remember best is Cielito Linda with the damn ay, ay, ay. I swear it was played over and over. My favorite B&B was in Dingle Ireland. It was over a grocery store. The woman was old. She entertained us with stories about guests including the Frenchman who didn’t know how to eat Corn Flakes and another who wanted a facecloth. She laughed at the thought that the face had its own cloth. Breakfasts were eggs, bacon, toast and coffee and sometimes a grilled tomato. The hostels were cheap enough but didn’t offer breakfast, but they had a value of their own. Hostels were where I’d trade books and information with other travelers. All these trips were cheap enough that I could saved enough money every year for a summer in Europe.

Last year’s trip to Ghana was expensive enough for a couple or even close to three trips to Europe in the old days, but I was perfectly fine with that. I enjoyed the lap of luxury as if I had been born to it.

“You don’t need magic to disappear, all you need is a destination and a great hostel!”

July 21, 2016

Yesterday was the perfect day: sunny, warm and dry. A breeze from the south kept my house cool. It will be warmer today, but this room, in the back of the house, is still dark and cool. I’m going to be out on the deck today with a good book and a cold drink. My outside table is perfectly shaded by branches from the scrub oak. Gracie lies in the shade at the right angle formed by two sides of the deck. She sleeps deeply and sometimes even snores.

When I was teaching, I was usually traveling in July and August. I was one of those backpackers who slept in hostels, on overnight buses and sometimes in parks. I bought bread, peanut butter and jam and ate sandwiches to save money. Sometimes I bought a cooked chicken and tomatoes for a fancy dinner sandwich. I had a Go Europe guidebook which listed free food at happy hours. I’d nurse a drink and eat my fill. Overnight train travel was my favorite route between two places. Sometimes I’d just buy a seat and try to get comfortable enough to sleep, but a couple of times I bought a couchette and was able to stretch out on a mattress and sleep.

Traveling in Europe was a huge adventure for me. I got to see all the places I’d only read or dreamed about. One summer it was five weeks in England, Scotland and Ireland. Another summer it was six weeks traveling in Finland, Russia, Denmark, The Netherlands and England. The big trip was eight weeks in South America. I landed in Caracas and left from Rio. In between, I traveled from country to country by bus, car and planes. The best plane ride was over the Andes from Lima to Cusco. I saw the shadow of my plane on the mountain tops covered in snow. In those days few Americans traveled in South America. We met only one other in Paraguay who asked to join us at an outdoor cafe. He had heard us speaking English. He was the head of Pan American Airlines in South America and was on his farewell tour of Pan Am offices before his retirement. He told some great stories including one about Eisenhower visiting South American and having to extend runways for his plane. I think that trip was my all-time favorite.

Eight weeks from now I’ll be in Ghana.