Monday, February 14, 2005

Slow blog movement.

Drizzle pretty much all day, more like March than February, but I won’t complain, as long as the water trends away from the low places in my house. At least this house doesn’t have a leaky basement, which I’m reminded of whenever I smell the faint must of some of the books we used to store in the old house’s basement.

This morning, Ed & Lynn forwarded me the following, by a columnist in the South Florida Sun-Sentinel, not a paper I see often, but one that Ed, traveler extraordinaire, writes for periodically. I was amused. I’ve even practiced some of the suggestions. Without further ado, this is the whole thing, with occasional gloss by me in italics.

The Slow Travel movement: A primer

Thomas Swick

February 6, 2005

Last week I addressed the need for a Slow Travel movement and the column got such an overwhelming response -- two letters, which indicate of course that most people are following my advice and taking time to digest the idea -- that I've concluded that this is something too big to leave to a single Sunday.

That first column, as you recall, delineated the philosophy behind the
movement and ennobled it with a motto: "We travel to see the world, and we never see more than when we're perfectly still."

Now that we know where we're slouching from, I want to move on to the practical side, and offer suggestions for all of the would-be dawdlers with wanderlust.

Use your globe as a meditation tool. (I do this often.)

Choose one city, or state, or province (as opposed to an entire country, not even Slovakia or -- nice try -- Slovenia). (Fine advice.)

Consider taking the train. Or a boat.

Buy guidebooks with small print to discourage speed-reading.

Overpack -- heavy suitcases slow you down. (I disagree, but if it works for him, he can do it.)

Wear clothing with lots of pockets, and forget which ones you use for what.

Whatever the terminal, get there early and drink in the drama. ( Some people just drink in the terminal.)

At immigration, stand in the line with the most ethnic headwear.

Take the shuttle instead of a taxi. (Yes.)

Sweep the lobby with a glance before proceeding to reception.

If there's a bar, plop down in an armchair. (Drink a sloe gin fizz.)

Have a chat with the bellman.

Note the wallpaper in the corridor.

Test the comfort of the bed and, while testing, surf to find the local news. (Sometimes your hear the oddest things on someplace else’s local news.)

Flip, still supine, through every bit of hotel literature.

Walk. (As much as possible.)

Don't plan to see anything but try to see everything.

Forget the Alamo. (What does he know, he’s from Florida. Still, I think I understand.)

Curse the subway. (Some people cruise the subway.)

Read the posted menus of at least 10 restaurants before you decide on a place to eat.

Give each forkful quality time in your mouth. (Hard for me.)

Ask your waitress what she thinks of the Slow Food movement.

Up her tip if she claims membership in the Slow Service movement.

Have an after-dinner drink.

Go to a hot club so you can stand in a line.

Leave as soon as you reach the entrance. (It's not like you're going to miss a lot of slow dancing.)

Admire the streetlamps.

Eat a good breakfast.

Read the paper (keep the Leisure section).

Drop by a market on your way to the museum.

Stop and smell the cheeses.

Choose just a floor, an era, a school of art.

At ruins, linger till the dust from tour groups has settled.

Try to converse in a foreign language.

Empty all of your pockets and then find a gang of street kids.

Write in a journal.

Browse in a bookstore (even -- especially -- if you can't read the titles).

Forget the camera and carry a sketchpad.

Study the money before you spend it. (Little artworks, sometimes.)

Listen to the entire repertoire of Andean flute music. (Except, it always sounds exactly the same, so it’s hard to know when it’s repeating.)

Apply for a work visa. (Very time consuming.)

Wait in front of an interesting building until someone comes out and invites you in.

Board a bus that looks very lumbering.

Then take a nap.

Make your way back on foot.

Stop for mimes. (No. Forget it.)

Watch men working.

Strike up conversations with sloe-eyed strangers.

Spend a morning in bed with your green Michelin guide.

Toss four coins in a fountain.

Wonder what the woman is doing with a mannequin.

Buy postcards only after you've scoured all the shops. (And don't fall into the trap of purchasing stamps with them.)

Behold the swallow flying around the post office.

Ask the gentleman the name of his bulldog.

Read every plaque.

Gaze at the clouds.

Halt on a bridge.

Say, "I am here."


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