Erik and his fellow globetrotting girlfriend Stephanie rendezvous in Italy for a relaxing and romantic “fake honeymoon” through the boot-shaped country—and beyond, with jaunts through Croatia, Switzerland, and London.  While this blog concentrates more on the relationship between Erik and Steph, its descriptions and historical tidbits of the destinations they visit are written in signature Global Trip style.




TRAVEL DISPATCHES (in chronological order)

Surprises

Posted: June 14, 2007

In the Nov/Dec 2006 edition of National Geographic Traveler‘s “Real Travel” column entitled, “Surprise Gifts,” contributing editor Daisann McLane writes about a realization that many seasoned travelers have come to know:  that some of the best travel experiences happen when something doesn’t go according to plan, ultimately leading you to sometimes happy, but definitely memorable situations.  She writes:

“Travel happiness is that instant in time when everything you didn’t plan seems to fall together in a perfect moment: people, atmosphere, history, scenery — and strong coffee…  Because a stopover is usually a last-minute decision, something done on a whim, or perhaps even forced on you by delays or carrier schedules, the odds are strong that it will end up being on of these unexpected traveler’s highs.”

For example, in my own travels, I hadn’t planned on getting mugged at knifepoint in Cape Town (boy, I didn’t see that coming!), but that unexpected moment led me to missed flights, which led me to an unexpected overland detour through Zambia, where I made ex-pat friends who led me to more friends in Tanzania — one of which took me to dinner and recognized me as her neighbor from our old hood in Jersey City, NJ.  On a post-college trip backpacking trip around Europe, an unexpected stop through Basel, Switzerland led me to a great time at world class zoo and a cute little market with delicious sausages.  In Mali, on an extended layover in Mopti en route to Timbuktu, I bumped into a British woman who eventually rang my doorbell in New York the week I returned — only to invite me to a fancy house party at the British deputy consul general’s flat in NYC.  Surprise gifts, as McLane puts it.

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When Harry Met Erik…

Posted: July 04, 2007

PART 1:  Ah, Venice.  Arguably the most romantic city in the world with its winding alleys, endless canals and wandering gondolas, it couldn’t have been a better locale to start a romantic getaway for a couple of “jetsetters.”  Steph and I had decided to use Venice as our rendezvous point as it’s common ground; we’d both been there before already and it was a small enough city to get around on foot — when you’re not lost of course, or trying to find each other.  Steph had arrived about an hour before me from Tuscany, only to wait for me at the jetty that I didn’t arrive at from the airport.  Meanwhile, I had arrived at a different jetty and had gone to our room in the eastern-influenced-but-classicaly-Venetian three-star Hotel Noemi, only to find it empty.  Our first hour in Venice was simply a game of text message phone tag:

Meet me here

Im walking there

Im here

Im walking over

Where are we meeting?

etc.

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Practice For The Amazing Race

Posted: July 05, 2007

PART 2:  “Have you seen The Amazing Race?” I asked Steph as we jogged with our packs on our backs to the ACTV water bus stop at Venice’s Rialto Bridge.  She wasn’t too familiar with it and I explained how it was the Emmy award-winning CBS reality show — called by some critics as the only reality show worth watching — in which eleven teams of two race around the world, following clues to markers and pitstops in faraway destinations.  Each pair has a different relationship dynamic (i.e. father/daughter, married gay guys, boyfriend/girlfriend, etc.) that the drama of travel can make or break.  In The Amazing Race, traveling in haste can really cause people to crack under pressure.

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The Fake Honeymooners

Posted: July 07, 2007

PART 3:  “Do you realize we’re going on what is most people’s honeymoons?” Steph said to me in Venice.  “A [romantic] romp through Europe.”

True, our mere summer romantic getaway was very honeymoon-esque, particularly at our next destination, the Isle of Capri, Italy’s resorty island off the coast of Naples, a place that my friend Alan (a.k.a. LovePenny) called the highlight of his honeymoon.  “I think Venice was his second highlight,” I told Steph.  “And we just came from there.”

Capri wasn’t originally on our itinerary until Steph’s mom told Steph that she loved Capri so much, she’d pay for our hotel if we decided to go there.

“I think we should go to Capri then,” I said, prompting our travels to southern Italy.

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The Most Swingingest Brothel In Pompeii

Posted: July 07, 2007

PART 4: The Isle of Capri was the last place that we’d set in stone in our pre-departure planning, and the unknown, spontaneous part of our trip was upon us.  “Can we go to Pompeii?” Steph asked me.

“I was actually going to ask you that.”  Pompeii, another place neither of us had visited before, was only a couple hours away by car — fortunately, we had one.

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No Particular Place To Go

Posted: July 09, 2007

PART 5: “Wouldn’t it be great if I just turned on the radio and that song came on, Riding along in my automobile….  duh nanana nah na nuh naah… No particular place to go…?” I said to Steph, humming that middle part of the Chuck Berry song.  It would have been the most appropriate song as we departed Pompeii and head south towards Sorrento and the Amalfi Coast.  However, without the song, we just settled on what we could get on Italian radio and the Harry Belafonte CD.

“Here’s the map,” Steph told me, navigating from the passenger side.  “We can go down this road that goes down the coast.  See, it goes, ‘pretty pretty pretty pretty…’” she continued, tracing the road with her finger.  “You have to say that when you drive along it.  It’s the Amalfi Coast song.”

“Okay.”

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The Mountain Town

Posted: July 09, 2007

PART 6:  When I was on the island of Naxos in Greece, I was sent on a quest by my friend and former boss Tracy to find a nostalgic, almost mythical place from his past:  a tiny hamlet where he’d spent many fun-filled and memorable summers in the company of friends and an old jovial man named Vasillis.  Steph also knew of an old man, her jovial friend Franco from Vermont, who had grown up in a little Italian mountain town near the geographic center of the country, high up in the Apennine mountain range.  And so, like I had done before her, Steph began a quest to find her curious, mythical town, a mere speck on our road map.

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In Limbo

Posted: July 10, 2007

PART 7:  “I’m really sorry we missed it,” Steph apologized as the only ferry to Croatia’s Hvar Island had already departed from Pescara, Italy.  We had arrived only ten minutes late for the once-a-day 10:30 a.m. ferry across the Adriatic — the next was twenty-three hours and fifty minutes away.  Up until we knew this, I wasn’t worried because I figured there was probably another ferry at some point leaving from Pescara, but I was wrong.

“It’s okay,” I told Stephanie, clueless as to how our day would turn out that morning.  “This’ll be one of those unexpected detours I wrote about on my blog.  It’ll be fun.”

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Dalmatians 101

Posted: July 15, 2007

PART 8:  “I have decided that for the rest of the day, I will only say things I know in Croatian,” I said, having had no practice or knowledge of any vocabulary of the eastern European language.

“I guess we’re not going to say a lot then,” Steph told me.

“No.”

Not surprisingly, my dumb little proposed verbal stunt didn’t last long when we started exploring our first and only day in Split, Croatia, where our ferry had docked before seven in the morning.

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Alone Again

Posted: July 18, 2007

PART 9: The city of Zagreb originated in medieval times — the period in history, not the hokey dinner theater with jousting knights — back in the 11th century when the villages of Kaptol and Gradec grew and grew and eventually merged to band together to oppose Turkish invaders.  (The two villages are now neighborhoods in the present day city.)  As Lonely Planet puts it, this capital city of Croatia is “too often overlooked by tourists making a beeline for the coast… a fascinating destination on its own, combining the best of Eastern and Western Europe.”

With that in mind, Stephanie and I were excited to explore the other “half” of the Croatian cultural dichotomy — until Steph’s fateful words that morning:

“I’m not feeling very well.” 

Feeling a little feverish, she figured it was just a little sunstroke, and needed the day to rest and rehydrate.  “You go to Zagreb.  I think I just need a day.  Have fun for me.”

“I’ll have twice as much fun and give you half.”  I kissed her on the forehead as she laid in our bed with her eyes closed.

And so, like many, many days before in my travels, I set out alone again, the lone vagabond traveler, to explore a new place with pen and pad in hand, and ripped out pages of my guidebook in my pocket.

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The Backpacker/Flashpacker Part Of The Trip

Posted: July 23, 2007

PART 10:  “I like this random backpacker thing,” Steph had said back when we had checked into the Hotel Garni, a surprising great accommodation deal that we spontaneously acquired in a willage [sic] just outside Zagreb airport in Croatia.

Flashpacker thing,” I corrected her. 

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Ending On A High Note

Posted: August 01, 2007

PART 11:  It’s not surprising that Interlaken, in the heart of German Switzerland, is a popular destination for all types of travelers on the tourism spectrum.  From campers to luxury hotel jetsetters, backpackers to flashpackers, and even big busloads of Asian tour groups, this mountain town situated in the Bernese Oberland area of the Swiss Alps is a complete draw with its postcard picture perfect scenery.  Interlaken means “between lakes,” for the town is at the junction of two beautiful lakes — Lake Brienz and Lake Thun — and if that’s not enough, the area is flanked by three majestic mountain peaks:  Eiger, Moench, and in the center, the famous snowcapped Jungfrau, commercially dubbed as the “Top of Europe.”

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Encores

Posted: August 07, 2007

PART 12:  “You haven’t changed one bit,” said a familiar voice from a familiar face.  Both belonged to Zoe, the British lass I’d met at random at a cafe in Uyuni, Bolivia during my big trip around the world.  Little did I know during our initial encounter that she’d end up as a recurring character on “The Trinidad Show”: with her traveling buddy Sam, we were in the same jeep on our tour of the famed salt flats and surreal desert sands of Bolivia; we met up in Sucre for a kitschy dinosaur tour and makeshift puppet show; and now, 479 blog entries later, we were in Zoe’s hometown of London.

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TWO IN THE BOOT AND BEYOND (in chronological order):



PRAISE FOR THE GLOBAL TRIP BLOG

Praised and recommended by USA Today, RickSteves.com, and readers of BootsnAll and Lonely Planet’s Thorn Tree, The Global Trip blog was selected by the editors of PC Magazine for the “Top 100 Sites You Didn’t Know You Couldn’t Live Without” (in the travel category) in 2005.

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