Sunday, March 03, 2013

Seeing a Whole New World

I've always had a fascination with travel. If you ask me what I'd do if I won the lotto, my response is "travel for six months to a year. And then save money for later travel. and then buy a house." I hear about exotic places and I think, "I want to go there. I want to see that, experience that." I blame my childhood.

See, when I was little, we traveled a fair amount. My dad was in the air force, so we could fly really cheaply and we were stationed abroad for a couple of years. I still remember wondering around Japan, going into alleys full of shops. (And you will pry my kimono and slippers from my cold dead hands. I don't care if all that fits now is my right arm.) We hit several countries, all of which have moments that stand out for me. The bird sanctuary we went to, the giant Toys R Us (although they didn't really have different toys, just *more* of them). Even when we were in the States, we hit a lot of places. I have memories of wearing my poor dress, known to me as my spill dress, which I could never wear without some disaster happening. It had pink sparkly balloons and a teddy bear on it. We were on our way to Yosemite the first time I wore it; we'd stopped somewhere and I'd left McDonald's orange juice in the car. When I got back in and picked up the cup, the oj had soaked through the cup, and the whole thing dumped on me. I remember watching Ol' Faithful, and making fun of the smell. We went camping and skiing and biking, and just explored.

Eventually, we wound up in a small town in the south. Many there (and many of those I graduated with) stayed local and mostly vacationed in Florida. Whereas my mom has never been to Florida, and I only went for the first time because my dad wanted to go to a fly in. Instead, we vacationed in Seattle or San Francisco or Colorado or, later, in New York. In high school, I went abroad again, hitting four countries with my girls choir.

So when I read a book like The Historian, while I feel like I should focus on the plot, instead I focus on the descriptions. Kostova describes Budapest, and I try to sync that with my memories (one of the high school choir trips) and make plans to go back. The plot has the main characters bouncing around Europe, going into Soviet territory, all while going through horrible things and living in fear. Yet... all I can think is, "I want to SEE that." In all aspects, it's a good book. The plot is intriguing (though the ending is rather abrupt), the characters are fleshed out enough, and much happens. But I would mainly read it again for travel ideas.

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