travel lessons

I curiously continue to lose weight. This despite a diet that has variously consisted of the following: potatoes (in many forms)  and pints (Dublin), room service, more pints, and tequila (London), vodka, cheese, and a bit of chocolate (Zurich), mashed potatoes made with entire sticks of butter, topped with gravy (again London), and McDonald’s cheeseburgers (throughout the months of January and February. Possibly a bit in December.). It’s true I’ve been going to my trainer when I have not been in London, Dublin, or Zurich, which is to say, I haven’t been going to him much. Gym access has otherwise been spotty, and honestly, with the gym weights in kilograms, I have no idea how much working out I’m actually doing. I have, however, mastered measurements in stones. I’m quickly closing in on nine.

It’s possible that what you always hear about walking being good for you is true after all. I figured walking was like marijuana — the health pushers just started you out on it in an attempt to get you hooked on stronger stuff, but the walking itself was harmless. But maybe there’s something to this walking thing. I love walking — seeing new places, old places — soaking it all in. Although walking through a densely wooded park at 3am in Zurich  may not have been my brightest moment.

They say that travel is educational and it’s true. Here’s what I have learned.

  • As illustrated, you can have as much cheese and beer as you want as long as you occasionally walk rather than take a taxi.
  • If your suitcase weighs 70 pounds, it’s likely there will be no elevator to the sixth floor. Think of hefting that bag up all those stairs as creative exercise. It just means you can have more cheese.
  • Pack more socks. No, more than that. Maybe a few more.
  • The number of reusable articles of clothing (jeans, sweaters, etc.) that you should pack is directly proportional to the number of very smoky places you plan to frequent. And if you plan to contribute to their smokiness. Not that I would. I’m just offering you helpful hints, is all. Not speaking from experience. Nope.
  • A wicker stool is not as comfortable as one might imagine as a desk chair. A pillow works in a pinch, but is not really a substitute for an actual chair. If the wireless were reliable, you could work from bed. But the wireless won’t  be reliable. So, you may as well start considering the trade offs of a comfortable position vs. the frustration of a dropped connection now.
  • Your room won’t have a coffeemaker. If you’re in Europe, at least you’re likely to have some form of tea kettle. If you’re in Vegas or the crappiest hotel in Silicon Valley, you’ll get nothing. The more you pay, the less likely you are to have access to actual coffee. The diet coke in the mini bar is $5, but well worth the cost.
  • Why don’t you bring shoes that are appropriate for the actual clothes you pack? Why? Because you will not, it’s best not even to try for anything other than jeans and t-shirts. You’ll just end up taking up space in the suitcase.
  • Don’t let the cleaning people in. They say they’ll only be a minute. They lie.
  • Sure, the mini bar isn’t cheap, but don’t knock the mini bar. There may come a time when it’s exactly what you need.
  • Go to Dublin.
  • Always book hotel rooms with robes.
  • Did I mention how nice it is to walk around?
  • Taxi drivers are like bartenders and hair dressers. They dispense life advice at no extra charge. And you’ll never see them again, so why not take advantage of the opportunity. Just be prepared for brutal honesty. After all, they’ll never see you again, so they have no need to sugar coat.

Obviously, traveling is the path to profound wisdom. And to cheese.

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