Away from the Maddening Crowd

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August 20th 2018
Published: August 24th 2018
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We all travel for different reasons. Some of us are attracted to famous places, and sights. Others are attracted to food and culture. And yet others want to get away from crowds, find quiet corners of the world, and just relax. Turn off all of the electronics, veg out, so to speak, and just enjoy nature and solitude.

But those places are harder to find. On my last trip to eastern Europe, we found both Poland (Warsaw) and Hungary (Budapest) to be relatively quiet, uncrowded, with lots of locals enjoying themselves, especially in the evenings. Going further out, places like Botswana, Antelope Canyon (AZ), Nepal, southern Chile, Medellin (Columbia), and some of our National Parks, provide a break from people, noise, high rises, and commercialism.

I am decidedly in the middle, having seen and visited the extremes of travel. I do not mind the boisterous Oktoberfest, but also enjoy the solitude of Bryce Canyon National Park in the winter. I enjoy the revelry around Wimbledon, but also the quiet beaches on Kauai.

Digging deeper into this problem, one simple solution rings out to me. It is to travel in the off and shoulder seasons whenever possible. For example, I like to go to Europe in the mid to late fall, the same for SE Asia. We went on safari to Africa during their winter. I took the Trans Siberian Railway while the snow was melting, but still got caught in a huge snowstorm at Lake Baikal. But very few tourists!

Much of the right answer depends, of course, of your likes and dislikes. When I travel with my buddy Mike, he loves to walk around the big cities, like Hong Kong, Budapest, Prague, Warsaw, Bangkok, and Hanoi. I prefer a little more open space, perhaps a bicycle ride out in the countryside. Or once in a while, a foodie or historical tour. The tour of Berlin was an example of seeing a place before and AFTER the Wall. And we enjoyed a real farm to table dinner out in Prosser, WA, about 2 hours east of Seattle. And my foodie tour of Mexico City was a great intro to a place I have never visited.

Sometimes, you play it by ear, and hope to get lucky. Such was the case in Medellin, Columbia. The young lady at the front desk suggested we go to dinner and after dinner entertainment in a place called Parque Llerus. I had read a little, and I mean, very little about it online and in a tour book. Little did we know this was the local hotspot for food and drink!!! Other times, a simple walk around the city reveals a great little bar or cafe, perhaps even some decent music.

Rowdy bars are not my thing, but finding a crazy group of Irish pfootballers in Vilamoura, Portugal can, at the least, point me in the direction of a great neighborhood, and some local watering holes. And seeing revelers spill out onto the street at happy hour is another sign of good times to come. Always, and I mean always, check out the longest line in every town or city!!!

I have enjoyed the big spectator sports, like the Kentucky Derby, Indy 500, and Wimbledon. But I also enjoy the quiet of a long bicycle ride in the country, here or on the road in Hoi An, Vietnam. I can handle a train full of rowdy Russians across Siberia, or sit alone in my roomette on the train, reading or listening to music. There is a time and place, as my Mom once said.

Though I am not the type to sit on the beach for hours, I do enjoy the quiet life near the beach, and the beautiful views. On the other hand, being stuck in a resort on Inle Lake, Myanmar afforded little opportunity to mingle with locals or to walk into town. We were surrounded by water!

Staying connected to the internet is also important for me. I need it to communicate to home, and to people like you. And I want to know what is going on in the world, since BBC and CNN do not provide much in the way of American news. For instance, last fall in Eastern Europe, we received NO coverage of the terrible fires in Napa and Sonoma!!!

So, bottom line, choose your place, based on your own interests, and mood. Yes, it can change from day to day, or even hour to hour. Maybe some of both each day?


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