Category: Travel Essays

“Venice Never Changes”

“Venice Never Changes”

“Venice Never Changes,” Samantha Durell replied in response to my observation that compared to other Italian cities, such as Florence or Rome, the famous city of canals on the Adriatic Sea looked like a down-at-the-heels in-desperate-need-of-a-cobbler “repair job” to the fading facades of its houses and palazzos.

Venice Canal and Laundry 012_11

What Venetians meant, she said, is “We like it the way it is,” which I took as a sort of “if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it” attitude toward their rather dowdy looking hometown.

If your house is about to collapse into a canal, the city would make you rebuild it, but otherwise, it would remain the same.

It was the third week of September, 2001, and my wife and I were on a walking tour with Durell, a New Yorker who now spent most of her time living in Venice, leading tourists like us around the back streets of her adopted city.

Some things had already started to change. While we had coffee at her apartment, Samantha pointed to boats on the adjacent canal. Unable to afford their own places due to rising real estate values, younger Venetians were forced to continue living with their parents. The only way to have a private tryst was to take your boat out to the Lido and make love at sea, under the stars.

Venice Canal Docks 013_12

There was also a change, albeit temporary, during our stay, caused by something that had happened in the U.S. less than two weeks before.

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Yellowstone: Mother of All Parks

Yellowstone: Mother of All Parks

NPS-symbol_thumb.jpgWhen I made a guest appearance last month on the award-winning NPR podcast, “Journeys of Discovery with Tom Wilmer,” the show’s host and my travel writing colleague, Tom Wilmer, and I discussed visiting U.S. National Parks during this year’s centennial celebration of the establishment of the National Park Service.

Both the general news media and travel publications and blogs have been making much-ado about the 100th year of service by the NPS, and in honor of that agency, PBS stations have been re-running Ken Burns’ 2009 documentary series, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Lower-Geyser-Basin-Yellowstone_thumb.jpg

But what may have been overlooked in the hoopla over the park service anniversary, is what made creation of that government entity necessary: The establishment of the world’s first national park, Yellowstone, decades earlier in the post-Civil War era.

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RVing “On The Road Again”

RVing “On The Road Again”

Now, a month into Spring, maybe, just maybe your mind is beginning to focus on where to go on a summer vacation and how to get there.

Flying? Oh, that’s so expensive, and the airlines squish you into a narrow seat with little legroom, and then there’s the TSA torture gauntlet to get through!

(Christopher Doyle Flicker Photo)
(Christopher Doyle Flicker Photo)

So why not drive?

And if you’ve come to believe that’s the way to get from “Point A” to “Point B,” perhaps it’s because these lyrics from a well-known Willie Nelson song have been playing endlessly inside of your head:

“On the road again
“Like a band of gypsies we go down the highway
“We’re the best of friends
“Insisting that the world be runnin’ our way”

But what kind of vehicle should you drive down that nomadic route to vacation Nirvana?

What about an RV?

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