Hit The Road
Enjoy travel without leaving home
I MET A WOMAN a couple of months ago who told me she didn't travel much, but she did what she thought of as the best kind of traveling: visiting foreign places vicariously through characters in books.
At the time, I thought that was kind of sad. I've always loved the actual act of traveling, of getting on the airplane and landing in another place. But last weekend, I visited four of my best friends in Boston, and I realized that it is possible to travel in the place you call home.
My friends Rob and Erica arranged a day trip for us to visit Georges Island, a 45-minute ferry ride from Boston's North End piers. Although it was summer, the air was cool and we were bundled up, clutching steaming cups of Dunkin' Donuts coffee.
Once we reached the island, the sun appeared, and we shed our sweatshirts while exploring the fort and rocky little beach before settling down on the green inside the fort for a picnic.
Upon returning to Boston, Erica said, "You know, we really forget how lucky we are to live here. It's such a great city, but you forget, I think, getting all caught up in work and life."
THAT NIGHT, we had dinner at a little restaurant called Devlin's, and Erica told us about her friend in Italy, Fabio, who declared his undying love for her last summer. Erica is fluent in the language due to years of summers spent in Italy, where her mother is from.
"It was awkward," Erica said, turning red. Rob told us that he went to visit right after the Fabio incident, and they ended up playing a game on the beach where everyone was eliminated except for Fabio and Rob.
Shaking an imaginary mane of long hair, Rob put his hands on his hips and said, in a really bad Italian accent, "I will kick-a your ass!"
Erica says that never happened, but that Fabio does stand around shaking his hair a lot.
I love Erica's stories about Italy, and in a way I realized I feel like I know the place because of her descriptions of the village where her family lives. If someone were to ask me if I'd actually been there, I feel I'd be inclined to say yes. And this is no different from the experience of the woman who told me she travels through her books.
THERE WAS A second place I visited vicariously that night: Lake Tahoe. Rob is planning to ask Erica to marry him there, on a lake near his parents' house. As I write this, they might very well be there, and I can already picture the tranquil water, the green trees and, perhaps most important, Erica's surprised face when Rob bows down on one knee.
This proposal will result in actual traveling for all of us, to a wedding in Italy that Erica and I have talked about since the day we met.
Sometimes, vicarious traveling eventually leads to the other kind involving airplanes. But no matter what, the best kind of traveling, in my opinion, is the kind you do with friends.
Joy Uyeno travels frequently throughout the year, and her column geared toward beginning travelers or youths experiencing their first extended stay abroad appears the second Sunday each month in the Star-Bulletin Travel section.