Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Travel Posters

A great way to keep the travel dream going is decorating with travel posters. Nothing from this century is worth framing (see my earlier post on advertising), but the posters of yesteryear are gorgeous.

I just got my new shipment of posters: one of New York, Malibu and Santa Monica. Like kitchy t-shirts I only buy posters for places I've been or seriously plan on going (hence the NYC, Miami, Mexico and LA posters).

Some great websites to look for posters are: (e-mail me for coupon codes) (almost the same as (bad selection, but tons of $5 posters)

Museums also hold a great collection of vintage travel posters. Check out the Boston Public Library's collection at Flickr. Absolutely gorgeous!

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Dreaming of Travel

In general I think I've adjusted quite well to 'civilian life.' Being off the canvass has given me the time and leisure to explore hobbies, books and places that I never had the luxury for before. Today I biked to the grocery store and picked up ingredients to make french toast. I laid out on the grass and a read a book. And I just woke up from my beer-induced mid-adfternoon nap. (I think the free Sam Adams brewery tour might become a Saturday staple.) As I woke, this poem came into my head:
In winter I get up at night And dress by yellow candle-light. In summer quite the other way, I have to go to bed by day.
-Robert Lewis Stevenson

It's hard to say how much A Child's Garden of Verses influenced me as a child. I couldn't recite any of the poems now like I can nursery rhymes, but reading them now, they all come back vividly, and with the pictures that accompanied them in my book.

I think the book stayed with me mainly because I remember the tattered copy my mom gave me, saying, "This was my favorite book growing up." I took that seriously.

I realize today that the simple child wonderment at everyday simple things in the world is something I try to capture everyday and something that travel gives you. One of the things I lvoe most about traveling is the pure joy you get from doing everyday things in a foreign place: taking the train, speaking to a friend, going grocery shopping, even taking a shower. Everything is new and different.

I find myself able to reclaim that feeling at will now, the feeling of wonder as the season turns, noticing the arcitectural details that lie above my normal line of vision when I walk to work, turning down a different street than I normally would take to the grocery store.

I find myself staring at the big poster of the coast of France across from my bed.

Is travel my drug?

Some of R.L. Stevenson's dreaming of travel poems:

Well-read Weekend #10

Most travel books adress the big W travel questions like Where? When? What? I doubt that the well-fed tourist cruise ship passenger or the stag-party attendee in Prague stops to ask Why?

It's a question worth asking I think. Why are there folks like Nomadic Matt that travel for years on end or endless websites detailing how to live life on the road? Why do we spend hundreds on luggage and havea whole genre of 'travel lit'?

I feel there's a whole load of tourists who fit into one of two categories: the travel to 'get away from it all' and the travel 'to see it all.' Neither strikes me as particularly good. If I wanted to get away from it all, all I'd need do is yank my internet cord out of the wall, turn off the cell phone and go lay in the park. Same rest, lots less money. Seeing it all means that you pack so much into your days, that yes, you might have seen the Eiffel Tower, the Mona Lisa and a can-can show, but what do you know of Paris?

Rick Steves aims to make folks' travel political. Alain de Botton takes a look at why travel is good for the soul in The Art of Travel.

Mr. de Botton is a philosopher at heart. His other books: Status Anxiety, The Consolations of Philosophy, The Arcitecture of Happiness. The Art of Travel is a delicate weaving of philosophy, yes, but also personal narrative, history and art.

His essays take delve into all the feelings we go through when we travel, from the anticipation of departure to the sublime views of nature's grandeur. He looks at topics through a few lenses--first his own travels, then of great travelers throughout history, through art or poetry and then brings things back to apply to our own lives.

For anyone who is more interested in the experience in traveling and less in the checklist of sights or the amount of sun one can absorb, this book is for you.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Well-read Weekend #9

A thouroughly useless, yet entertaining travel read, How to Make Friends and Oppress People. Has a sensible title, much like the Museum of Jurassic Technology. It sounds logical at first and then -- what technology during the Jurassic period? or wait, one should not oppress people!

It probably goes without saying that How to Make Friends and Oppress People: Classic Travel Advice for the Gentleman Adventurer by Vic Darkwood was written with a sense of irony.

Some favorite travel advice gems from the author:

On the best mode of travel:
"Women are hormonally prgrammed to be impressed by males who show a certain amount of dash, and in the modern world this commodity is usually made manifest by an impressively bushy moustache, a shiny red sports car or a large private income Right at the top of the dash stakes, however, is being the owner of a hot air balloon."

On improving your peripherial vision for driving:
"One of the best ways I have found of tgraining the eyes is to site for hours in a cinema with one's head turned sideways to the screen. . . Another good technique is to get a friend to drive a golf ball at you side on and attempt to dodge it."

But some of the fun is taken out when you know this advice is tounge-in-cheek. So perhaps the best advice comes from the many citations of actual travel books from the turn of the century.

"When talking to your Chinese boy you use Pdigin English. Here are a few words and their meanings; chop, chop, quickly; all same this, like this; man man, stop; no can cuttee, cheaper; no b'long plopper, that won't do . . . though round about, this baby mode of talk is tolerably successful."

"Should you be attacked by a mob in the East, hurt one of the crowd and hurt him quickly. The others will gather round the injured man and you will be able to slip away."

--The Happy Traveler, Rev'd Frank Tatchell 1923

"Every lady should, to my mind, know how to use a revolver. She may at any time be in China or some other country where there are savage natives . . . A lady can carry a revolver hidden for self-defence in many more ways than a man, owing to her draperis affording more places for concealment. Inside the muff is about one of the best places."

--Hints on Revolver Shooting, Walter Winans, 1904

Prepare to be amused and perhaps learn a thing or two about how to treat the natives.

Friday, June 05, 2009

Busy Busy Busy!

It's been a while, I know.  Since my last post I've been to DC, NYC, Montpelier--whew!  

I'm looking forward to spending some time in the city.  To make sure I don't miss a thing, I've started a google calendar with cheap to free events in Boston.  You can find it here.  Here's some highlights:

Cheap tapas in Roxbury every Thursday with live music
Fisherman's Feast in the South End in August
3 Levels of Dancing at the Liberty Hotel to celebrate Bastille Day
Gin, Rum and Vodka all made in Mass tasting at Blanchards
Outdoor Showing of Mama Mia