Saturday, February 27, 2010

Travel Philosophy (from Rick Steves)

I read this a few years ago and really liked it, and then couldn't find it again until just the other day. I thought it was worth sharing. This is from Rick Steves.

Back Door Travel Philosophy

From Rick Steves' "Europe Through the Back Door"

Travel is freedom... one of the last great sources of legal adventure. Travel is intensified living, with maximum thrills per minute. It's recess, and we need it. Experiencing the real Europe requires catching it by surprise, going casual... Through the Back Door.

Affording travel is a matter of priorities. (Make do with the old sofa.) You can travel simply, safely, and comfortably anywhere in Europe for $100 a day plus transportation costs. In many ways, spending more money only builds a thicker wall between you and what you came to see. Europe is a cultural carnival, and time after time, you'll find that its best acts are free and the best seats are the cheap ones.

A tight budget forces you to travel close to the ground, meeting and communicating with the people. Never sacrifice sleep, nutrition, safety, or cleanliness in the name of budget. Simply enjoy the local-style alternatives to expensive hotels and restaurants.

Extroverts have more fun. If your trip is low on magic moments, kick yourself and make things happen. If you don't enjoy a place, maybe you don't know enough about it. Seek the truth. Recognize tourist traps. Give a culture the benefit of your open mind. See things as different but not better or worse. Any culture has much to share.

Of course, travel, like the world, is a series of hills and valleys. Be fanatically positive and militantly optimistic. If something's not to your liking, change your liking. Travel is addicting. It can make you a happier American, as well as a citizen of the world. Our Earth is home to nearly 6 billion equally important people. It's humbling to travel and find that people don't envy Americans. Europeans like us, but with all due respect, they wouldn't trade passports.

Globetrotting destroys ethnocentricity. It helps you understand and appreciate different cultures. Travel changes people. It broadens perspectives and teaches new ways to measure quality of life. Many travelers toss aside their hometown blinders. Their prized souvenirs are the strands of different cultures they decide to knit into their own character. The world is a cultural yarn shop. Back Door Travelers are weaving the ultimate tapestry.

Join in!

–Rick Steves

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Some Snow Day

Living in The South, we don't get a lot of snow, and the snow we do get causes a disproportionate amount of misery. Schools cancel for the smallest amounts of snow, sometimes even when that amount is 0". People fear blizzards of Little House on the Prairie proportions when but a few inches are predicted. For the most part, people don't venture out in their cars (fortunately), but those who do abandon all common sense and maneuver their vehicles like Toonces the Cat. Its sad, funny, and frustrating all at the same time.

But snow also causes a disproportionate amount of joy. Kids want to try everything they've seen people do with snow regardless of how little they have to do it with. Sledding, snowmen, snow angels, snowball fights. . . the works. And adults who maybe have had the chance to do all those things remember what it was like to be kids.

So when we got ~8" of snow, we made the most of it.

Sledding on a borrowed cafeteria tray (because we don't own sleds)


and getting outside with the neighbors to see which unplowed street is the fastest.









And in addition to the sledding, the kids in the local school district (Alamance Burlington School System) had four and a half of the next five school days off.

In the wake of recent actual blizzards where people got 40" or more snow in a few days, our little snow day may seem quaint, but around here this is the right amount of winter, and one more reason why North Carolina is the place to be
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