Last week was slow on the travel front, but not for us. We were on vacation. We were actually all about travel last week, instead of pretending to be all about travel while everyone else does the traveling.
It’s true that everything looks different when you’re on vacation, especially work. And the Popemobile. But we’re back from vacation refreshed, with a new outlook on things.
What constitutes a comfy space, for one thing. We went non-hotel with our lodgings for the first time in a long time, and while we wouldn’t go so far as to say we felt we were at home away from home – our lodgings were way too clean for that – it felt extremely comfortable, in part because it felt very familiar. That’s why we’re none too sure about the “Strangest Vacation Rentals” spotlighted in Travel & Leisure. From a ‘60s pod pad in northern Wisconsin to a snail-shell house in Mexico to someone’s backyard in Napa, the choices run from the aesthetically challenging to the downright unappealing. As one of the visitors to Pittsburgh’s mirrored house noted, “My short stay was a chance to realign my own aspirations for home life.” So does that mean more mirrors?
Fortunately, none of T&L’s strangest vacation rentals are located in Budget Travel’s “6 Charming and Affordable European Cities You Haven’t Visited Yet.” As we learned on our vacation, a so-called second-tier city may only differ from A-list cities in the size of the crowds – and who vacations for the crowds? Give us Antwerp over Brussels anyday, and Milan over Venice. But Birmingham over London, or Hamburg over Berlin? We’ll get back to you on that.
We’ve sung Fathom’s praises before, and why not? Fathom is a dashing conversationalist and wine snob that can also mow the lawn and clean the gutters. Fathom is humble, too. Its recent list of the 25 best travel blogs modestly does not include Fathom, but it’s on our list. Near the top, too. And someday we’ll be on Fathom’s list, too; just watch and see.
Speaking of great stuff, we are evermore enamored of The New York Times’ “Personal Journeys.” Each one is an intriguing examination of something very – spoiler alert! – personal through the lens of travel. The most recent journey, Raquel Cepeda’s exploration of her Aruban roots, is not our favorite favorite, but it’ll do until something else comes along.
Finally, summer vacations are for reading, and you may be wondering what we were reading on our vacation. Good question; among other things, we devoured Joseph Mitchell’s Up In The Old Hotel, bought used from the amazing Powell’s Books in Portland, Ore. Mitchell’s collection of travelish essays includes one of the great depictions of time and place, the New Yorker profile of McSorley’s Old Ale House titled “The Old House At Home.” If you have a few minutes, it’ll be the best piece of travel writing you’ll read all week. Fathom notwithstanding.