I grew up in New Orleans, but have never been to Emeril's, Commander's Palace or Brennan's. I lived in the Philadelphia area for the better part of twenty years and never saw the Liberty Bell. I've lived in the Seattle area for six years, but have never visited it's underground. And although I've only lived in the Los Angeles area for a few months, I'm pretty sure I won't bother seeing the famous Santa Monica pier or stroll down Sunset and Vine or Rodeo Drive. So as Carol and I plan our next trip together, I still have no idea what I don't want to see.
We've been reading Bill Bryson's In a Sunburned Country, and Australia seems to offer thousands of miles of landscape void of almost anything worth visiting. The Outback sounds like a combination of Oklahoma and Kansas times about four. Add a fifteen-hour flight and a cuisine derived from the English palate, and we're not sure the lack of significant sightseeing is enough of a draw to offset all the apparent negatives. Considering I'm someone who lived in Greece for three months and never saw the Acropolis, and it's easier to comprehend why Australia might not be such a draw. Besides, there's so much I haven't seen in Europe, I could spend the rest of my life traveling there and not seeing any more of it.
So we're thinking of Italy next. Carol believes there's so much to see and do there, even trying to avoid it all is its own form of sensory overload. I remember taking a city bus in Rome that passed the Colosseum, and thinking before I reluctantly got off for the tour how great it would be to commute to work on that bus each day, knowing you'd never have to get off at that stop. Unless you worked there as a guide, I suppose ( a thought that gives me the willies).
But the great thing about going to italy with Carol is that after two trips totaling more than a month there, almost everything we see will still be brand new to me.
I read a lot of Bill Bryson because he travels less to see things than to read about them while he's riding a train or drinking beer in a bar or restaurant. My preference is to read about them, too. I read about the bell tower of the cathedral of Notre Dame in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, for instance, and have never had the desire to climb those three hundred plus steps myself to share the view of Paris that Quasimodo had.
Paul Theroux is another travel writer I enjoy, because he goes out of his way to avoid sightseeing. His only reason for arriving by train in one historic city or town is to catch the train to the next historic city and town. And so on for Theroux, whose travels can take a year or more at a time. Imagine traveling for a year and being able to answer the question, “So what all did you see and do?” with “No idea.” (On the other hand, imagine being the one asking the question and NOT having to endure an endless litany of sights seen and lines waited in!)
At least I'll never be the Ugly American. When I travel, almost no one is even aware of it. On the other hand, I'm the perfect travel companion. Whatever we do wind up seeing and doing was not something I likely had a chance to object to seeing or doing in the first place.
We're going to Italy. Yay!