Posts Tagged ‘travel’
March 28, 2013 | by Pamela Petro
Read part 1 here.
I owned a car that I couldn’t drive.
After the “Possession at Devil’s Bridge,” as we’d started calling it, Phil had parked the Mini alongside my cottage before roaring back to campus in her reliable yellow Renault. The following morning I went out and stood beside it, wondering what to do next. Any car’s speedometer cable could snap, but not just any car’s cable would have so profound a sense of timing as to do it at midnight, atop Devil’s Bridge, on its first outing with a new owner.
Appropriately enough, the Mini and I were in Wales: home of Arthur and Merlin, breeding ground of the fabulous. In one of the old Welsh wondertales, black sheep that cross a magical river turn white, and white sheep turn black. The Mini’s color remained mushroom grey, but something similar, if more subtle, had happened as it crossed the Mynach. On the far side of the river the Mini had been cheap, utilitarian transportation; on my side, it had already become a character in a story. In Tender is the Night, F. Scott Fitzgerald says we all have a heroic period in our lives. The Mini came into mine just as one of these phases was beginning (I don’t see why we can’t have more than one), and promptly took its place in the pantheon of memory.
My next-door neighbor appeared and found me stroking my fingers through beads of dew on its roof. Read More »
March 19, 2013 | by Matthew Smith
I was waiting for a friend on the steps of the Palais Garnier, pacing impatiently between the marble columns, when I noticed a paperback book sitting nearby: Gaston Leroux’s The Phantom of the Opera. Certainly not a random encounter, I thought, as the book is set in (and beneath) the home of the Opéra national de Paris. I opened it up, and found a note.
“I am not lost!” it said. “This book was left here to find a new reader.”
As it turns out, the Web site www.bookcrossing.com tracks books in their travels around the world. After you run across one of the traveling books, log the discovery on the Web site, post a review, and leave it somewhere else for a new reader to find. I sent mine on its next adventure not far from the Pont Neuf.
February 21, 2013 | by Zakia Uddin
We traveled from East London in a Zipcar, beating the traffic bound for Lakeside, the out-of-town shopping center. The pier car park was sparsely filled with cars. Abandoned in a corner was a statue of the Virgin Mary the size of an umbrella stand. Out of season, the Essex archipelago lures only the most hardened. By October, the weather is spitting and icy, and its landscape is too bleak and monotonous to qualify as ruggedly beautiful. A Wikipedia entry had told us there are nineteen islands off the coast of Essex, most of them owned by the British Ministry of Defence and contracted to private companies testing ammunitions. The individual entries were nearly all stubs, waiting to be filled in. An archipelago struck a curious exotic note in a place associated mostly with commuting, military test sites, and, most recently, “constructed reality” television.
American import Jersey Shore inspired The Only Way is Essex, a show similarly centered on the intricate love lives of pneumatic people living in an area derided for being culturally bankrupt, despite its proximity to one of the most exciting cities in the world. Jersey’s Essex County was even named after the UK’s own historical Essex, in 1683. Maybe there’s no need to make analogies between the UK’s Essex and anywhere else because its reputation is internationally bad, and we don’t defend it. The county town Chelmsford, where I was born, was voted eighth best place to live in the UK on the prerecession property-porn show Location Location Location. Residents promptly rang in to call it soulless; flashy on one hand and tedious on the other, like a nouveau riche neighbor with dull preoccupations. Read More »
February 19, 2013 | by Evan James
On the Saturday closest to my thirtieth birthday, I went out on the town with Andrew and Izzy, two of my Highbury flatmates. With my time in dreamy Wellington drawing to a close—to say nothing of my waning metabolic rate—the need to run a little wild at the end of an afternoon spent contemplating fiction felt realer than ever.
To this end our trio wound up, at three in the morning, after hours of dancing, walking toward a Burger King on the corner of Cuba and Manners. This Burger King occupies the ground floor of a heritage building with an Edwardian Baroque façade. Once home to the first Te Aro branch of the Bank of New Zealand, the building now shoulders what the local government describes as “considerable townscape significance.”
“My uncle used to be the president of Burger King,” said Andrew, sitting across from me and eating fries. The Burger King before us teemed with loud, drunken revelers.
“I can one-up you,” said Izzy. “My grandfather used to be the chairman of the National Front.”
“What’s the National Front?” I asked.
“You don’t know what the National Front is?” said Izzy. “Are you kidding me? Fucking Americans!”
“Look,” I said. “I know about a lot of things outside of America. I can’t know about all of them.”
“You know what the Klu Klux Klan is,” said Izzy.
“Well, of course.”
“It’s like the Klan, but in the UK.” Read More »
February 12, 2013 | by Zeke Turner
One morning my first summer in Berlin, I woke up alone in a park with a piece of sweaty plastic wrap around my forearm. I still had the tattoo. I still didn’t have my keys.
Fabian had given me the tattoo lying in his bed the night before. We met in a club thirty-six hours earlier, on Sunday afternoon, after I tried to pick up his roommate, a brooding Austrian boy with shoulder-length blond hair who was sitting alone away from the dance floor. He had a homemade tattoo of a sword on his wrist. His roommate had made it, he said, and did I want to meet him? They both turned out to be straight, and we spent the rest of the day dancing together and sharing our drinks and our cigarettes and whatever else we had.
Another Sunday afternoon dancing at the same club, a Portuguese friend stopped me and asked, “Americans come here for the freedom, right?” Another Sunday there, a Scottish boy asked me if I moved to Berlin “just to have fun.” Usually in these situations I say, “I guess so.” Nobody with pupils that size could have patience for a real answer. Read More »
January 31, 2013 | by Evan James
I had only just started stepping to and fro under the shifting blush of light-emitting diodes, and with only the most pitiable amount of rhythm or flair, when a strawberry blond officer of the Wellington Police crossed the dance floor, tapped my shoulder, and asked me to come outside. My first thought was that, at last, I was getting hit on by someone who had their own car. Then I prayed, “Please, please be arresting me for writing about my impressions of the South Island.”
Since arriving, I had not suffered so much as one evil eye in the world’s southernmost capital city (the closest being when I somewhat brusquely thrust a five-dollar note, the front of which shows the grinning profile of explorer Sir Edmund Hillary, at a middle-aged Chinese fruiterer at the Vivian Street open-air green market; she glared at me and my bag of ripe apricots). A peachy, pacific place. What could I have done to attract this sun-damaged arm of the law, aside from describing the kea parrot as a “bastard”? Being a bastard myself, I have nothing but affection for the kea. Had my two-step been so criminal?
“Slow night?” I said.
He asked how much I had been drinking. I managed a modest guess, adding, as he copied the details of my driver’s license onto a clipboard, that I worked for the university.
“And how long have you been here?” The officer pointed his pen at the indefatigably thumping club.
“About two minutes.”
He sighed, embarrassed by his task (a random check, I would later learn), and wrote my two minutes down on his official paperwork. “All right. You wanna head back in?” Read More »