Wednesday, May 25, 2011

While We're in the Neighborhood...

The first international trip Ann & I took together was for our first anniversary in 1996.  We went to Paris and London.  Fairly relaxing.  Very romantic.  It’s not unusual for someone to visit those two countries on the same vacation.  That’s what they built the “Chunnel” for, right?  In subsequent years we traveled to Italy and Greece, England and Scotland, Germany and Switzerland, Spain and France.  But since then, Ann’s taste for travel has become a bit more, shall we say, ambitious.  It was around 2004 that I started to recognize her ever more insatiable need for better and longer trips.  I call it her “While-we’re-in-the-neighborhood” theory. 

We were planning a trip to Rio de Janeiro for Carnival when she decided, “When are we ever going to go to South America again?  While we’re there, we might as well go to Peru so we can see Machu Picchu.”  Paris to London?  Sure.  Athens to Rome?  No problem.  Rio to Lima?  Uhhhh…  Let’s get some perspective.  Rio to Lima is like going from New York to L.A.  Not exactly a weekend getaway, but I was up to the challenge.  It turned out to be a great trip… and was only the beginning of the “While-we’re-in-the-neighborhood” travel.  Now, any international trip that doesn’t cover at least three countries is a waste of time.  And if it is less than three, they’re most likely going to be at opposite ends of a continent.  2005: Japan, Thailand and Hong Kong.  2006: Kenya and Egypt.  2008: Tahiti and Easter Island.

But perhaps the zenith of Ann’s “While-we’re…” ambition came last year in a trip to South and Southeast Asia.  Not just two countries.  Or three.  Or even four.  FIVE countries in one trip!  India, Tibet, Vietnam, Cambodia and Singapore.  14 airports in 14 days.  Oh sure, it was great.  And the sites were spectacular, contrasting the ancient rustic beauty of Cambodia’s Angkor Wat with the gleaming 21st century skyscrapers of Singapore, with the Taj Mahal thrown in for good measure.  But if I thought too much about what it was going to take to complete a journey of some 26,000+ miles, I’d have been curled up in the fetal position.  Don’t get me started about what it takes to get visas and permits to get into Tibet.  That’s a story for another blog (or a six-part Ken Burns mini-series on Discovery).

The Lonely Planet blog recently had a debate: one destination vs. multiple countries.  It’s obvious which side of that debate Ann falls on.  I have come to embrace Ann’s “While-we’re-in-the-neighborhood” travel style.  It has made for some amazing adventures and wonderful memories.  Next up: back to Europe later this year for stops in Germany, Hungary, Czech Republic, Belgium and The Netherlands.  Oh, did I mention we’re doing all that by car?  I’ll let you know how that goes.


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