The travel conundrum

Everybody wants to visit exotic new places, but today, few people like to travel. By traveling, I mean footslogging through cavernous airports, squandering time in long waiting queues, going through the ignominy of security checks and dozing uncomfortably for extended periods of time in back-breaking seats.

Personally, I cannot wait for the relaunching of commercial supersonic planes like the Concorde that will cut the flying time in half; but according to my spies, they won’t fly until 2023. And by then I might not be in the mood…

“The worst thing about being a tourist is having other tourists recognize you as a tourist.” Russell Baker

No matter how hard you try, when you travel you will always be recognized as an interloper. In a foreign country, you will stick out like a basketball player trying to hide in a crowd of pygmies.

Everybody (at least some) dreams of visiting an unfamiliar country incognito, being the only foreigner in the crowd and blending smoothly with the locals. But it is impossible. Even I, speaking fluent French, won’t get away with it in France. I am tainted.

Like bloodhounds, the natives sniff out our alien scent and know right away that we are trespassers. It is almost like tourists have a giant T painted on their backs.

Of course, you could try it to fake it. You could ensconce yourself at a sidewalk café, throw a pack of cigarettes on the table, call loudly for a waiter and order a tiny cup of undrinkable espresso. But it is a tricky stunt that might end in disaster.

Personally, I don’t smoke, I don’t like strong coffee and I don’t have the Depardieu’s panache to pull this stunt.

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did.” ― Mark Twain

 True. The best time to travel is when you are young and sound of body and mind. But when you are in your salad days, you probably won’t have the money… and when you are finally well off, you are permanently fatigued.

There has to be a solution. Maybe get a sugar daddy or a sugar mommy… or rob a bank and spend the loot on an extravagant adventure… and write a best-seller about it.

The perfect time to travel might be in the winter when hotels and restaurants (and museums) are empty and begging for “turistas”. They might discard the fact that you are an obtuse foreigner if you have a few rubles to spare.

Christmas in Vienna or Stockholm has a good ring to it!

Alain

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