This blog post was inspired by a Facebook friend’s question this morning. She asked which form of transport her friends preferred. I started thinking that often times I enjoy the means of getting there as much as the destination.
I don’t drive, so I do a lot of walking and it’s my best time to think. When I visit a new city I’ll often spend hours and hours walking, taking in the sights and sounds. You discover stuff when you walk, little treasures and corner alleyways that you’d just zoom past if you took the local transit from one attraction to the next. Often the streets themselves are the attraction for me, as was the case in Madrid. (You can read my earlier post about my day in Madrid here.)
One summer during college I worked in a summer camp in the US and then when the camp was done I bought a Greyhound pass and bussed my way over to California. One stop in the middle of night was Indianapolis. Most of the passengers stayed in the Bus Station eating crappy food from the vending machines. I decided to explore the strange eerie streets with floodlit buildings empty of all signs of life, an almost ghostly city center. As often happens when I write I remember little details like this from my travels, so when Miri and Danny needed to go to New York City in Argentum I had them go via Greyhound and stop in Indianapolis in the middle of the night, just like me.
I also really enjoy train journeys – I can’t read in cars and buses as I get nauseous, but have no problem on trains, so it’s a good time for me to read, write, and solve puzzles. I don’t mind flying, but don’t enjoy really long flights as I get stir crazy sitting in one spot for too long (I definitely need an aisle seat), that’s the other nice thing about trains, you can get up and walk around. My all-time favorite train ride was in Egypt going from Cairo to Luxor – I had a sketch pad and pencils with me and started drawing little portraits of the folk around me – one guy liked his picture so much that he bought me a cup of tea in exchange for it from a vendor on the train. I can still taste the hot sweet tea infused with nana (fresh mint.)
In the same trip I travelled from Aswan (the home of Zamir in P.A.W.S.) to Luxor on board a felucca (a Nile riverboat). On board the boat, the world slowed down – the hectic, overcrowded streets of Cairo, a million miles away.
Strangest mode of transport I’ve experienced – camel! A few days in the Negev desert hiking by foot and on camels including a night sleeping in tents with the Bedouins. Camels are bumpy – if you ever ride one I recommend holding on tight!
In the fall of 1987 I travelled through Europe by train on my way to Israel. Each journey and stop along the way is a story on its own, but in late December I arrived in Athens and boarded a boat to Israel. My father had originally made Aliyah (moved to Israel) by boat and I wanted to do the same. In those three days on the boat as a deck passenger we became a little community. We wandered around the island of Rhodes together, and then when we got to Cyprus and it was pouring with rain, I sat for six hours in a café with an old artist from the boat while he told me his life story. It was still raining the next day when the boat sailed into Haifa harbor, but I stood up on deck with the rest of passengers watching Israel come into view and wondering if it had felt the same way for my father.
Often times when I’m tired at the end of the day, or when the weather is particularly nasty I think wouldn’t be nice if we could teleport back home and not have to deal with the tedious transport, but then I think how much we would lose if our transportation truly was instantaneous, because so much life is the journey not the destination.