When I was a kid, I just wanted to get out of Detroit and travel. Perhaps it was growing up so close to Canada. The distance between Detroit and Windsor is only 4 km. You can stand on the USA side, of the Detroit River, and see Canada.
Then, in 1984, I took my first solo trip overseas. Sure, I had been to Guam, The Philippines, and Okinawa, while serving in the Air Force, but London was my first non military trip overseas.
Today, I can’t even remember how many times I’ve been to the UK. One of my most memorable trips was in 2015. A library vendor told me about the company’s season football (soccer) tickets. The representative said if I was ever in London, they could have tickets delivered to my hotel.
Turned out, the the tickets were for Arsenal. Watching an Arsenal match, for Manchester United fan, was strange. Watching my first football match, in box seats, with complimentary drinks, was amazing! I didn’t even enter the stadium via the turnstiles! I went through a regular door.
All the ManU matches were sold out, during my trip. So I decided to take the train from London to Manchester and tour Old Trafford. I’m so happy that I did. It was a long day, to be fair, but the stadium tour was well worth it.
Another favorite trip happened when a friend emailed me, while I was serving in Peace Corps Armenia, and invited me on her Mother/Son vacation, to Sri Lanka. Her young son had asked if I could join them. I jumped at the chance. Like most fans of Duran Duran, we took a road trip, south, to one of their old music video locations.
Back in Colombo, we went to the Galle Face Hotel and had a drink to honor the late Anthony Bourdain. His death occurred a week before we arrived in Sri Lanka. We made our way to the hotel and quickly found ourselves in the bar.
South Africa turned out to be another favorite travel location. When I was a grad student, in library school, at the University of Michigan, I took a course on International Librarianship. The professor was a member of IFLA, the International Federation of Library Associations. After completing that class, I couldn’t wait to graduate and find a way to also join.
My job as the Librarian for African Studies, at Duke University, answered that call. I attended IFLA conferences in Durban, South African, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and Cape Town, South Africa.
Like London, Cape Town lives up to its hype. The Five Star Westin Cape Town was, of course, wonderful. Executive suites, small day spa, and a restaurant, at the top of the hotel, that gave me no reason to ever leave the hotel.
Before even arriving in South Africa, I began posting about the IFLA conference and the Westin Hotel. When I walked into my room, I found a note and gift, from the hotel’s online public relations team. Everything about the hotel was first class. I can not wait to stay there again.
One of my all time favorite vacation trips kept me moving. Before retiring, I decided to take a train across Canada. To do this, I started in Cleveland, stayed overnight, visited the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame, then took an early connection to Chicago and picked up a sleeper car to Vancouver.
I gave myself a day to get from Amtrak to Via Rail Canada and I booked myself into the Fairmont Hotel, in the Vancouver airport. I really just wanted to stay at the hotel, again. The guest rooms are soundproofed and have floor-to-ceiling windows, with unobstructed views of the airport’s runway. The next day, I made my way to the train station, via the Metro.
Travelers always have a laundry list of “must” dos. I’m not saying that you have to travel across the United States and Canada, by train, but … man oh man … Via Rail Canada was totally worth it.
The first night, I was a little put off about not having a door to lock. I’m from Detroit, remember. My sleeper car on Amtrak had a real locking door. My sleeping berth, on Via Rail Canada, was the seat that I used, during the day.
The turndown service happened each evening, while I was in the dining car. The food service very was good. After a day or so, I made friends with some of my fellow passengers. We always took our meals at the same time and began waiting to sit with each other.
After a good meal and conversations with my new friends, I would head back to my seat. I was the only passenger in the section. Once the sleeping berths were made up, the only thing separating me from someone walking up the aisle was a piece of cloth.
Still, I had little trouble falling asleep. I was the only person in my section. It was a little odd, at first, but I didn’t have to worry about noise coming from other passengers. I’ve read a few reviews that claim the berths don’t have windows. Mine did.
My next big adventure will begin in two weeks. I’m relocating to Alaska. So, that means serving in Ethiopia, vacationing in Tanzania (Zanzibar), being evacuated to Hawaii, and now moving to Alaska, all in year!
See, I told you to follow the adventure! —GGT