The Travel Bug


I’m sure the English countryside is very nice. I went there once and got thrown out of a field, and I’ve seen it in films like ‘Straw Dogs’. Oh, and I heard Stewart Lee’s monologue on friends who moved to the countryside: ‘There’s so much to do, it’s wonderful, you’ll love it. Do come. Do please come. Please, please come. Bring coke.’

So I love to travel abroad. You know, broaden the mind, increase the carbon footprint, watch as my brand new Samsonite suitcase splits in half (third one in three years, don’t buy them, their zips are rubbish), and I’ll go anywhere so long as it doesn’t involve British Bloody Airways, the only airline that has actually downgraded me, not once but four times. (They send over one of their bulldog-faced matrons to tell you why you’re getting a voucher instead of the flight you booked), but how to balance it with work?

Well, laptops are the key – I’m sitting in an open-air bar with chillout music and slowly rotating wooden fans as I write this – don’t hate me – but how do you pick where to go?

Holiday destinations neatly divide into two types – Would Go Back and Wouldn’t. In the ‘Wouldn’t’ camp I’d count South Africa (beautiful, but uncomfortable race situations) and Cyprus (chav Russians dining in sleeveless vests). In the ‘Would’ camp I’d count all of Europe, India, Sri Lanka and the Far East. Oh, and I want to go to Utah because the Aman hotel chain has a site there, and I would work in a windowless room for six months in order to stay in any of the Aman hotels, all of which take travel to a kind of dazzling zenith. Check ’em out here.

Which brings me to a question – has anyone been to Beirut? It’s shaping up as my next destination, and I have to go there before I ever go to Israel because you can’t do it the other way around. The photo of Beirut on Wikitravel (my favourite travel site) shows a load of cargo containers and the kind of ugly institutional sixties buildings that Wallpaper magazine gets into a lather over.

I never took a gap year (left education Friday, started work Monday) and I’m at that age where I want to travel before I lose my knees. All travel ideas gratefully accepted!

10 comments on “The Travel Bug”

  1. Rick D says:

    Yet another great post – the Aman Hotel in Utah looks incredible, but personally I would not want to risk a having a single penny falling into Mormon hands after what they did to Prop 8 in California.

    Have you considered Peru? I did a tour of the country a few years ago that included hiking the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu (if a sofa spud like me can do it – you certainly can!), sandboarding the sand dunes of Ica, watching the condors soar over the ancient agricultural terraces of the Colca Canyon, flying over the Nazca Lines, checking out the Inca Gold Museum in Lima…

    And mummies… Did I mention the mummies?

    Endless diversity of geography and history and lovely people. It would be a Gulliver-like experience for you, given you are tall (as am I) and the locals are generally tiny by comparison. My brother, a very talented photo-journalist, was there recently and ran couple of columns about his trip which include brief videos. They can be found here… He too is a world traveller and fell in love with the place and its people.

    Of course, you are always welcome to visit Beautiful British Columbia. Some of us still speak English and the trees are nice. Of course if you are expecting culture of any kind, it’s only found in the yoghurt section of the supermarket.

    Hope you find your way home safe and well.

  2. Helen Martin says:

    Just looked at the Resorts. Now THAT is what a hotel should be!
    When did this gap year thing start, anyway? You finished high school and carried on the summer job you started as soon as you were legal, then went to university once you had enough money, if that was what you were doing. Otherwise you did the finish school Friday, start work Monday thing. Oh, I’m sounding like an old “Back in my day” person.
    And I see the monkeys are still with you. Perhaps they are sabotaging your luggage.

  3. Steve says:

    I have some Lebanese friends who absolutely love Florida, because they say it’s exactly like Lebanon. I dislike Florida, ergo….
    My travel has pretty much been limited to (all of) the US, portions of Canada, the UK and Italy. You’ve been there and done all that, so I’m afraid I’m no help at all.

  4. Martha says:

    I’m fascinated by Beirut and would love to go, but lack of funds and encroaching old age mean I probably won’t make it. You will have to do it and send reports for me.

    I just finished a very interesting novel, ‘De Niro’s Game’, by a young Lebanese Canada based writer. Set in 1982, for all of the awfulness it describes, it give a powerful taste of a vivid passionate culture.

  5. mikenicholson says:

    Chris, you seem to have misunderstood what you saw on Wikitravel – those aren’t ‘cargo containers’, they’re actually Aman Beirut.
    “A beautiful natural location, outstanding facilities, exceptional service and a small number of rooms” etc. etc.
    Good to know that as the wheels come off the world (climatically, politically, financially) someone’s still able to provide an exclusive and private experience amidst the mudslides, pandemics and internet beheadings!
    Hey! The first ‘Bah humbug!’ of 2011. I thank you.

  6. mikenicholson says:

    PS – I take it that things didn’t get so bad you had to eat the monkeys?

  7. Helen Martin says:

    In my mind Beirut is the Cote d’Azur of the Middle East with esplanades, beautiful gardens, fine hotels, excellent restaurants, and the Bekaa Valley nearby for wonderful day-trips. I understand there have been events since the 1950’s that have had a negative influence on the ambiance and resulted in an impression of the worst aspects of King’s Cross after a football final combined with a bombing range. I’ll hang onto my ’50’s images and hope for the best in the future but that’s no help to you in the here and now.

  8. Megan Morrissey says:

    Come to Australia! If you do it around the Writers Festivals you could class it as a buisness trip (Australian’s love Crime Writers!) and it’s an amazing place. But maybe wait till it dries out a bit.

  9. Considering the war in the Eighties probably wasn’t too healthy for the buildings, I wouldn’t expect much by way of sightseeing in Beirut. I hear there’s a thriving night life, though.

  10. martin says:

    I would recommend river rafting in southwestern Utah out of Moab. Specifically, the Green and Colorado rivers. Sherri Griffith expeditions does this trip justice, and they are a great company. (Disclaimer-I’ve rafted with them several times. If you’re putting your life on hold to go down a river for two weeks, you need a reputable company)

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