Yamhill County Restaurants
“Why do you like to travel?” Tricia is writing a post for her blog Travels Through My Lens about why people like to travel, and pondering why some don’t have any desire to travel; she wanted a quote from me. It got me thinking. My initial response was:
“What I like about travel is feeling immersed, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before.”
That does encapsulate the essence of why I may get tired while traveling, yet never tire of traveling. Her question got me thinking about what attracts me most to other places. It all comes down to three things:
Mornings are my favorite time of day, the best part of the evening is going to bed so I can get up in the morning. When I travel, alone or with Tricia, most mornings I either quietly have tea in the room while she sleeps, or, more frequently I head out to a cafe. One of the first things I do when we get to a hotel, or a BnB, is to scope out a coffee shop. Before going to bed I lay out my clothes, reading materials, and sketching kit so I can quietly get dressed and leave, hopefully without waking Tricia.
At the cafe I feel like a local, most tourists take vacation as an opportunity to sleep-in, I don’t begrudge them that for a moment, it just keeps my morning less crowded; if I sleep in until 0800, even 0700, I feel like I have missed the best part of the day.
In the cafe there is time to read some news, the Morning Office, a book. I might explore a map planning the day’s adventures, specifically focusing on a good place to eat lunch, which is usually the high point of our day. Cafes, bistros, and restaurants are a priority for us, and an important part of why I travel.
Then, settled in, it is time for a sketch. In Robion, a couple of years ago I went to the same cafe every morning, did four sketches, one each morning. Each was from the same table, just facing a different direction.
The cathedrals and temples in the world are worth visiting. Of course the magnificent ones – Notre Dame in Paris, the Duomo in Florence, Bath Abbey in England – are awe inspiring, but they are too crowded for my taste. (Visit early or late to avoid crowds – Friday Prayers at Bath Abbey is my recommendation)
Gordes is one of those places in France I love to visit, sadly so does every other tourist who goes Provence, so I am faced with the crowds. Just off the circle at the center of town is Eglise Saint-Firmin, a small and in need of sprucing up cathedral. Never crowded, a bit dark, always quiet. A few minutes sitting spent on the old and warn pews, considering the icons and flickering red candles, triggers all kinds of reflections on what is important in life.
Grand gardens and parks are just variations on cathedrals, as are mountains and vistas. My mind is freed up to be creative, for introspection, peace and meditation. Next to morning cafes and midday restaurants Cathedrals of stone or nature are the best part of travel.
Pretty obvious that this is a priority for me. Sketching allows me to connect with the place, it forces me to slow down and really observe – the colors of the building, the shapes, the people and what they wear. In the time I am sketching I am completely immersed in the terroir of where I am. Later, when I flip through a sketchbook, a bit of the feeling comes back, it is like being there all over again. Those sketches of Robion renew those wonderful morning cafes.
Tricia’s Quote Expanded
I think I need to give Tricia a more complete quote:
What I like about travel is immersion, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before. I may get tired while traveling, yet never tire of traveling. It all comes down to three things: Cafes, where I connect with the locals, cathedrals, where I am inspired, and sketching, where I capture the moment while creating a memory.
I had intended to write more about San Diego this week, but life has a way of interrupting our plans and intentions, c’est la vie. Instead, I will post a short blog about a recent stroll we took around Gold Creek Pond, and next week I’ll continue writing about San Diego. Gold Creek Pond is […]
Edinburgh Castle is the icon of the city. The thick walled fortress, perched high on a rocky hill, houses the history of a proud nation, the crown jewels of Scotland, and the blood of brave fighters that defended their country. Just outside the gate stood a solitary piper, proudly dressed in kilt. Surrounded by a crowd of tourists jostling to take a selfie with the piper, most ignoring the courtesy of dropping a coin or two into the bowl on the ground, few, most likely, even aware of the rich history of the Scots. The selfies taken that day, all along the crowded Royal Mile, will appear on Instagram, for it is truly an “Instagramable” place.
The Independent, a British newspaper, found that 40.1% of millennials chose their travel destinations based on how well the photos would look on Instagram (Independent March 2017). A google search of “Instagramable” returns 3,630,000 links.
These days any travel destination is overrun with folks taking selfies, selfie-sticks are standard travel gear for many, for posts that will end up on Instagram, feeding hopes of “likes” and “followers.”
I get it, for I too post on Instagram, and I too crave the likes and followers. (Feel free to take break from reading this and follow my feed.) So I am not anti-Instagram, and in the end not anti-selfie. Photos of travelers in foreign lands have been with us since the invention of the camera, they become treasured memories.
Travel should be more than selfies, likes, and followers. The joy of travel is to get away from the “must see” places crowded with groups on tours, rushed from site to site, with only time enough to snap an Instagramable Selfie. These folks may correctly claim to have “seen” a place, but they missed out on experiencing the people, the culture, the beauty of the place.
The late Anthony Bourdain said that if your trip to Paris is filled only stops at the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower then you have not seen Paris – I totally agree. We were on our 5th trip to Paris before we ever went up the Eiffel Tower, thanks to the crowds it was a complete disappointment. When I think of Paris it is the quiet places and cafes, like La Table du Luxembourg in the Luxembourg Gardens. I sat there one sunny day sketching the park, while sipping un verre de vin blanc.
This is why I sketch, it takes longer than a selfie. To sketch you have to really see, study, think about where you are. In the process you take in the place, see the people, hear the sounds, smell the flowers.
If you are not a sketcher, give it a try. If you are a photographer, please keep taking the kind of photos my wife takes and posts at Travels Through My Lens. But take more of the places and less selfies. And above all slow down, it is not a race. Sit in the cafe, have the glass of wine, then when you get a real feel for the place capture it with your camera. I guarantee the pictures will be far more Instagramable. Both photographers and sketchers are artists, our goal is to capture the moment, to be true to what we experience in a place. That genuineness will come through when you post it for us all to enjoy. I want to see the place, an occasional view of your charming person in the frame is fine, but show me the place, and what makes it special.
Keep travel sketching, and photographing travel, then share it for us all to see.
January 1994 at the Holiday Inn in Racine, Wisconsin to May 2, 2019 at this Best Western in Silverdale, Washington – 26 years, five continents and over 3,000 seminars. The seminars are over, they pretty much ended 6 months ago, only did 4 in all of 2019.
So far this year I have only flown three times, 5,912 miles. By June of most years I was already MVP with Alaska Airlines, on my way to Gold Status, with 30 to 40 flight segments already logged. What a change. I will hit my Million Mile status with a couple of flights planned for this year.
So, this is a year of change. Coffee shops, beaches, and arboretums have replaced the Alaska Boardroom Lounges. A shoulder bag and pochade boxes have replaced my roller-bag. Blue jeans, paintbrushes, and pens are the attire and tools of the day. And the closest thing to a seminar are the sketching workshops I lead. I love it and don’t miss the travel as I feared I would.
There are trips planned, but for pleasure. Off to Oregon for the 4th of July to visit friends and family. A day trip to Port Townsend in August for my birthday. September we head to San Diego for a wedding and time with friends. Then off to Tokyo for another wedding in November, with a side trip to Seoul.
When we get back from Japan it will be time to kick the France planning into a higher gear. If we are to move there in April/May there is a lot to do. The visa process takes about three months, lots of documents to secure, dossiers to create for us and for our cat, as well as a trip to San Francisco to appear at the French Consulate office.
Though, as many before me have observed, I am so busy now I don’t know when I ever found time to work, still there is more time to reflect on food we cook and eat, places we visit, and tips for both. So time to get this blog back into action.
Tricia looking for Nessie
A hike to Foray Falls
The Gladstone Library, Flintshire, Wales
This is a quick, low calorie, delight that is also budget friendly – easy and quick enough for mid-week, good enough for company. Leave the Parmesan cheese off and it is even vegan. For those who just can’t imagine a meal without meat, this has enough substance and flavor to satisfy most.
Most mix the spinach and tomatoes into the polenta, I wanted it more attractive, it worked.
Crushed garlic, red pepper flakes, warmed (not fried) in olive oil to infuse the flavored into the oil.
Add diced tomatoes, salt and pepper, let them absorb the flavors in warm pan with heat off while you prep the spinach, a few minutes.
Turn heat back on low for 1 minute, then off. Add chopped spinach, stir a bit then leave to wilt while preparing the polenta, spoon off excess liquid.
Stir ½ cup polenta into 2 cups boiling water, whisk until the polenta does not sink back to bottom when you stop stirring. Turn heat to low, cover, and cook for 30 minutes, no less, stirring every 10. It will be creamy without adding cheese.
Heat the spinach tomato mix. Spread polenta on plate, using a slotted spoon cover polenta with tomato and spinach blend, top with Parmesan cheese.
2 Tbs olive oil
2 garlic cloves, crushed
2 Roma tomatoes, 1 inch cubes
Full bunch of cleaned spinach
Pinch Red pepper flakes
Herbs – oregano, Tyme, etc.
½ cup polenta
2 cups water
A whole day and all I needed todo was drive 40 miles, so I opted to visit three old missions and spend the day sketching and praying.
First stop was the famous San Juan Capistrano, I would love to see the swallows return but I fear it would be crowded, today it was full of school children yet I found some solace nonetheless.
The vagabond, off to see the world with nothing more than a backpack and a dream, is a romantic image, in reality it is probably not the best way to approach your next travel adventure. The other extreme, a spread sheet with the entire trip laid out in 15 minute increments has a certain penal quality that stifles spontaneity and serendipity. I am a believer in planned spontaneity – just enough structure to give a bit of security.
So what should you plan at the minimum? There are three questions you should ask, they seem obvious but let’s explore them a bit more in this blog and some future blogs.
1 Where to go? – Itinerary
Unless you are blessed with unlimited time and money you need an itinerary of places to visit, your basic pathway.
2 Where to stay? – Accommodations
Rick Steves has suggested finding your hotel or in when you arrive in the city, visiting the tourist information office, calling or visiting hostels and hotels until you find one that works. Yes that is easily doable, and may even save a few dollars, it certainly will connect you with the people and the place. Yet, for me, it takes up time better spent with a sketch pad in my lap, a meal to savor, or some place to explore. So I make accommodation part of the planning.
3 How to get there? – Transport
Basically your: air transport, trains, and rental cars, from major location to location, as well as getting around while in the area.
Planning a trip for me is not a linear process, it is pretty random – looking at a BnB one moment, a train trip the next; plenty of ideas that need to be collected for future reference so they can easily be searched. And a way to get the basic structures in place that also prevents missing something important. After we look at some thoughts on the three questions above I will offer some suggestions on organization. But first…
Where to go?
I often ask people, “If we had tickets to go anywhere in the world, where would we go?” The top three answers are: Greece, Italy, Australia. Surprisingly, at least in my mind, is how frequently Greece is the number one. Since I have never been to Greece I wonder if I am missing something?
There are some considerations when deciding your destinations. Destinations and itinerary are not the same thing: Destinations are pins on a map, itinerary is the sequence you will travel. Itinerary takes into account time available, transportation logistics, and budgets. For me it works best to start by picking places unconstrained by time and money. Then, unfortunately for those of us with the realities of limited time and money, the list gets refined and usually reduced.
First identify your travel context. Why do you travel? I am sure there are many ways to approach this but here are three:
- Exploration – you travel to see and experience other countries and people, it is the destination that is important, someplace you have never been or returning to a place that you loved. When people ask me where I would go with those free tickets I quite often respond with Scotland or France, I love those countries, the people and the culture.
- Interests – some activity or topic motivates you to travel, you are looking for a place to do something specific or to experience. Skiers might be motivated to try the slopes on another continent, golfers to play in Scotland where it all started. History buffs would find a trip to learn more about some period in history attractive. Hikers, mountain climbers looking to add to the peaks that they have challenged.
- What makes it a good trip for you? Think of past trips, what were the best parts, the most memorable days, and why were they good? What were the times you found yourself restless, why? Do you prefer big cities or countryside? How important are museums and iconic sites? How important is nightlife or shopping? How important is good food, dining out? Lots of activity or plenty of relaxing time? Time and place for photography or art?
Personally, seeing new places and experience the culture is high on my list. I would rather spend a few days in one location and not visit as many places. What is perfect is when I can stay long enough to have morning tea at the same tea shop that they recognize me when I walk in. Painting and sketching are major interests, but so far they are what I do while in a place and not the motivation to pick a place. Good food is going to get me to San Sebastian in Spain one day, but I like Spain anyway. We tend to stay in big cities only briefly, anxious to rent a car or take a train to get out into the smaller towns and the countryside. Shopping is low on our list, and nightlife pretty much nonexistent.
As important as it is to consider these things about yourself, it is even more important when you are traveling with other people. Unless there is some harmony on these basics there will be conflict on the trip. Frank discussions are essential.
Start with broad geographical areas then work your way to specifics. What part of the world is attracting you right now? Europe? Asia? South America? Yes, I would start at the continent level.
Browse images, travel pages, maps, guidebooks, talk to people. Then start listing possible areas and cities. At this stage don’t worry about sequence or time spent in each. Once you have some key locations identified it helps to look at them on a map. Look for patterns, try to see how it would flow going from one to another. If there is one city that is quite distant from the others, think about how important it really is – the travel to reach it may be expensive or take time from more important places.
Now comes the sequencing, list the destinations out in a logical order, taking geography into account. Then begin to factor in time for the overall trip, and the time you would like to spend in each location. My personal preference is to spend more time in fewer places as opposed to racing from town to town, place to place just to say you have been there. It is rare that I would ever want to spend less than two nights in a place, because if you travel in the morning, you arrive at the new location in the afternoon, or late morning at best. Then you spend the night and get up and travel again, so you really do not get to experience much of the culture or get a sense of the place. With two nights you get an evening, a whole day, and maybe just a bit of the next morning. If a place is not worth staying two nights I would question how important it really is.
In the next blog we will discuss setting up a table to track all of this simply, and talk about transport.