With travel woes at a fever pitch lately, I’m finding that it’s the perfect time to leave reality behind and revisit my most far-flung travel fantasies. Laugh if you like, but one of the things I love most about travel is the dreaming part: thinking about where I’d like to go, reading about new places, and imagining all the travel-friendly hobbies I’ll someday take on and drift around the world to do (scuba diving is my latest). So when I saw this month’s cover of Islands magazine, which touts the 2008 list of the 10 Best Islands to Live On, I was a goner.
Last week, my sister called me from the Texas Panhandle, where temperatures had climbed to a bone-dry 100+ degrees, with the region’s famously violent winds creating an effect akin to, as she put it, “a blast furnace.” Sounds terrible, right? Not to me. I sighed wistfully, missing that dry heat that defined the summers of my childhood, remembering those first gusts of hot wind that heralded the season’s arrival, recalling sizzling sidewalks under my bare feet so vividly that I unconsciously rose to my tip-toes to walk across my New York City apartment for a glass of water. Those were truly the summer sidewalks of lore, on which one could quite easily fry an egg. Here in the city, where even 80 degrees feels unbearable when delivered on a platter of New York’s special recipe for mugginess, you’d have more of a poached egg, or perhaps a runny scramble of yolks and cigarette butts and dirt. No disrespect to the city I choose to call home now, but I’ll take a dry 100 degrees over a sticky, filmy 80 degrees any day (and today, it’s a sticky, filmy 90 degrees at 11:30am). In fact, because of this, summer is the only time of year when I consistently miss my hometown.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member Jose Kevo
After a Memorial Day weekend road trip that reduced my companion and me to cheering at the sight of gas for less than $3.80/gallon, I’m acutely aware of the sting of rising gas prices. So I can only imagine the panic among major airlines over skyrocketing fuel prices on a much, much larger scale. Last week, American Airlines gave us some idea, with the announcement of reduced capacity and added fees—including a $15 charge for the first bag checked by each “low-fare customer.”
Travel mooching: many are guilty of it (I’m talking to those of you in the back, trying sheepishly to avoid eye contact). They take that trip to Prague with a friend whose brother lives there and can offer free accommodations; they show a keen interest in visiting those distant relatives with a house in the Hamptons; they call up that high-school classmate they ran into over the holidays to announce—surprise!—that they’re planning to visit the city, but man are hotels expensive. Sound familiar? Few of us have escaped: it’s hard to avoid the advances of a mooch.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member vondrejech
Every city has its characters. They’re the eccentric local fixtures whom everyone knows by name; they’re the self-appointed representatives of their cities’ imaginations; they amuse and sometimes frighten tourists; to encounter them anywhere outside their cities would be difficult, if not impossible, to imagine. In my eyes, they’re the lifeblood of a city’s local color—encountering them, knowing them, and occasionally spotting them around town make me feel more at home in a city than anything else.
Photo courtesy of IgoUgo member alex_nyc