The Road Ends, The Trip Begins
Dire Straits is quietly spinning on the record player right now. Coffee is burning in the pot and the sun is slowly falling down behind the rain clouds. As Mark Knopfler sings about walking in the wild west end, I'm reminded that in four short days my mother and sister will jet across the pond to spend some time in the wild west end of London, only stopping briefly on their way to meet Toronto.
The last time I was in London, I blinked and I was gone. There for only two days, I crammed in Big Ben, The Original Hard Rock Cafe, Piccadilly Circus, The London Eye, Westminster Abbey, St. Paul's Cathedral and more that I can't recall, sitting here and dreaming. I met an elderly tour guide that liked to say things like, "When my mother-in-law comes around, the mice throw themselves in the traps!" When we saw the changing of the guard our new english friend, Jim, said, "The English really just like to be left alone, you know, like most people." Jim had vertigo and later on during the trip when we trekked to the top of Blarney Castle to kiss the Blarney Stone, Jim lay in the grass at the bottom with his hands behind his head and said, "I don't need the gift of gab, I talk enough. Don't fall off." He was a smart ass, he was well liked, he was a teacher and Europe was his classroom.
We are always learning aren't we? On that European trip I learned to sleep, I was so tired we had too. I learned that no one cares if my hair doesn't get done, I was so busy I couldn't do it. I learned that the rich history of places like Stonehenge and small abandoned castles that no one remembers can make me burst into tears in front of 100 people. I learned that the William Wallace historic statue in Scotland looks creepily like Mel Gibson. I learned that if you wear a rival soccer jersey in Ireland that a mad man in an ATM vestibule will stand and wait while you take it off and put it away. I learned that even the boat captains on Loch Ness wonder about Nessie sometimes. I learned that I love to travel.
Some of my favorite things about going on long trips are the airport layovers, the people you meet in dirty Scottish bars and the fact that people aren't really that different even 4,000 miles away.
I hope you're traveling a little this summer season. But, if not, some of my favorite travel books are below for your enjoyment. Dream, escape, flit, be free.
A Walk In The Woods By Bill Bryson
The Years Of The Forest By Helen Hoover
A Year in Provence By Peter Mayle
Bella Tuscany By Frances Mayes
Under The Tuscan Sun By Frances Mayes