All posts tagged: Trip

How I Officially Became a Middle-Aged Badass in the Finnish Arctic

A few summers ago, I was offered the opportunity of a lifetime: a roundtrip holiday junket to the Finnish Arctic region in hopes that I’d write about the region’s beauty, sustainability and why it should be a top travel destination for millennials who are increasingly seeking meaning and purpose when they travel.  But as a woman in midlife, a decidedly non-millennial, I found meaning, purpose and a little bit of a super-hero skill in the deep-freeze. I was offered two, week-long options. The first was to take the trip during the summer solstice in August, featuring hiking, biking and outdoor trekking. The second was a visit during the darkest and coldest time of the Finnish winter, January. Given that I’d be traveling solo and am middle-aged, I initially leaned towards the safe and more “typical” sounding summer holiday. But, after reflection, I thought, “Hell, Susan, why not go the challenging route? Get out of your comfort zone and be a badass for once.” So winter darkness was the selection I made, and my trip would …

25 Years Later, Adventures with My Husband Are Just Getting Started

“What’s the Australian equivalent of Ibuprofin?” I asked my husband, handing him Band-Aids out of a medicine chest in a hut in the middle of the Tasmanian wilderness. “Is it paracetamol?” I said, flipping through various tiny white medicine packets stored in a Dixie cup. My husband winced and limped back to a bench to tend to his blistered feet. He’d been pretending they weren’t bothering him, but four days and almost 40 miles into our traverse of Tasmania’s Overland Track, his feet weren’t playing along. “Hey, your legs are still bleeding from the leeches,” he said, pointing to the rivulets that traced their way down my left calf. We’d learned that leeches secrete a chemical to prevent your blood from clotting while they fill up. You can’t feel them latch onto you and it doesn’t hurt to have them there, but once they fill up and drop off it, it takes ages for the bleeding to stop. “I know,” I said, dapping at the blood with a tissue. “Those little Tasmanian bastards.” It was the …

Oh Ottawa: Reflecting on a Canadian Life Left Behind

  If Belle from Beauty and the Beast were 40 today, would she still be living happily ever after or would she have second thoughts about leaving her provincial life? Would she still identify with that life at all? Growing up in Ottawa, Canada, I suppose in some ways I was a modern-day Belle leading the proverbial provincial life*. The grass is green, and there’s lots of it – in the summer months at any rate. With the federal government headquartered in the nation’s capital, the job market is robust and typically weathers market downturns well. There’s access to good schools and, of course, universal healthcare. At home, we indulged in many popular American imports. Our family tuned in to ALF and laughed at Steve Urkel’s silly jokes, my dad received a hero’s homecoming when he signed up for a Jumbo Video membership (Canada’s answer to Blockbuster) and surprised us with a copy of the newly-released Batman movie, and in the 10th grade I became completely obsessed with The Phantom of the Opera when a …

The Zipper

I read Erica Jong’s Fear of Flying at 19 during my first year of college, around the time my then-boyfriend and I were working together to give me my first orgasm. In the most iconic riff of the novel, protagonist Isadora Wing describes a one-hour trip from Heidelberg to Frankfurt, which she would take four times a week to see her analyst. On the train, she would see beautiful German men and have elaborate sexual fantasies, including one involving an Italian widow and a soldier in a train compartment. She famously called this a “zipless fuck….not because the participants are so devastatingly attractive, but because the incident has all the swift compression of a dream and is seemingly free of all remorse and guilt.” When I set off on a study abroad program in Europe myself a few years later in 1994, I did so with Jong’s zipless fuck in my mind. I would get a Eurail pass, travel alone, and have hot, anonymous sex with a chain-smoking French intellectual. But unfortunately for my scheme, …

Snow & Steam — A Couple’s Tour of Iceland

I saw Iceland for the first time in a friend’s photo: she and her rock-star girlfriend were luxuriating in a pearlescent hot spring surrounded by snowdrifts and billowing steam, explorers on a magnificent alien planet. My husband and I finally explored those hot springs and snowdrifts for ourselves five years ago, and we promptly fell in love with them; we went back two years ago, and we’re planning to go again next winter. We try to play it cool by alternating trips to Iceland with trips to other countries, but the truth is that we daydream about moving there. “Iceland” is a misnomer, and a deliberate one at that: the Vikings gave it a nasty-sounding name to trick other Scandinavians into steering clear of it and settling instead in “Greenland” (which actually is kind of a frozen hellscape). Iceland is green, gorgeous, and breezy in the summer, and temperatures in the spring and fall hover around what you’d expect in New York City, though the daily mini-seasons, when storms blow in and out and the …

The Bravest Woman I’ve Ever Known

There have been many fierce, independent women in my life. Women who have stepped far outside of their comfort zones to chart new paths or tread into unfamiliar territory. But the woman who has inspired me the most to explore, to dare, and to navigate is my great-aunt Adriana. Her erratic presence in my life, seemingly flying in and out with the wind, opened my eyes to exotic worlds beyond the small southern town where I grew up. Many years earlier, she had had the same effect on my father, who would “drag” his family on archeological digs and to more ruins than I can count. Our nomadic tendencies were a bit of an anomaly in our town, and it wasn’t until I was an adult that I truly appreciated this gypsy lifestyle. It was my family that introduced me to the gift of travel and my great-aunt who helped me realize the importance of breaking bread with other cultures around the world. As a young woman, Adriana would take the same route home from …

Talk TueNight: Been Around the World [Photos]

Sixty+ women joined us last Tuesday night as eight storytellers took us on a round-the-world tour: Singing through Buenos Aires, hitchhiking across Italy, under the Great Barrier reef, returning to Haiti and more. For our fourth live storytelling evening, we partnered with Yahoo Travel who hosted us in their lovely Midtown offices. The event was also a benefit for the wonderful organization Girls Write Now. Here are some of the photos from a raucous, hilarious and moving evening of tales, courage and worldwide jaunts. Margit had a chance to interview Yahoo Travel’s Paula Froelich, and the star of A Broad Abroad, who talked about how “travel is not a luxury anymore, it’s a mandate.” We should all get our of our comfort zone, embrace more life leaps and travel. “If your gut tells you it’ll work, it’ll work!” said Froelich. She vouched wholeheartedly for traveling solo, which segued nicely into Courtney Colwell’s piece later that evening.   Courtney reads her piece Cyclone Approaching! Why I Chose to Dive Anyway. “A remote rocky beach in Greece? Sign my shit up.” — …

That American Woman: Finding Myself in Africa

My father once said to me, “Just once I’d like to get my feet on African soil, to stand anywhere on the continent if only for one day.” It’s a fairly common sentiment held by those of us whose ancestors were brought by the African slave trade to the Americas, the desire to reconnect and bind ourselves to an identity beyond our short and tragic history here. Given his advanced age and fear of flying, I’m sad to say it’s a dream I doubt he’ll ever realize. I, however, had the great fortune of spending a couple years after college as Peace Corps volunteer in Liberia during the pre-war years, an experience I will never forget. Full of hope and wonder, I was excited touch, see, smell, hear, and taste the wonders of “the Motherland” for myself. Despite my enthusiasm for reconnecting with my roots, however, I was disabused of any notion of belonging almost as soon as I arrived. No amount of sun could darken me enough to stop the locals from referring to …

A Globetrotting Romance

My marriage splintered after just five months when I discovered my husband deemed free trips to Miami and New Orleans a nuisance. He loathed travel, preferring to burrow into the earth in one place. I grew up believing divorce was a sin, but my need to traipse across every inch of the earth was stronger. After my divorce, I medicated myself with travel. I wanted a man who shared my odd sense of humor, was smart but kind, didn’t want kids and had the contradictory quality of loving intense travel yet having a home base. I was sure he didn’t exist. After seven years alone, I finally decided that Maddie, a little black lab, was the real love of my life. She loved road trips. The solitude of the open road has always rearranged my cells in a way I can’t pass up, so on a recent trip, I went to Portland. For the past year, I’d been tweeting with Lourens, a guy who was living there temporarily. When he learned I was in town, he suggested drinks. I was …

The Trip and the Tribe That Changed My Life

A coworker of mine used to give me shit about my fondness for getting together with my “Hawaii girls,” a group of writers I met in the Aloha State. A mere week after our group parted ways, we were planning our first reunion. “Don’t you guys have friends of your own?” she asked. “Of course we do,” I replied. “We just really, really like each other.” Last June, bleary from a pre-dawn call-a-car ride to the airport and a turbulent connection from New York City to Atlanta, I plunked down in my seat on a massive jet for a nine-hour flight to Honolulu. The woman beside me looked strangely familiar. Had we met somewhere before? “You look like you might be on the Starwood trip,” she said. “I’m Kafi—I am, too!” Kafi is a fellow writer, and she and I were both headed west to check out Starwood Hawaii’s health and wellness programs. Nine hours is a long time to share an armrest, and by the time we touched down we’d told each other the stories …

Lesvos, Ayvalik, Istanbul, Astoria

In 2005, I was waitressing in New York City and thought, no, was convinced that I was destined for so much more. I called myself an opera singer/actor, but I wasn’t making a living at it. Many of my friends had far fancier, better educations than I did, better jobs, and, in most cases, more money. That is a reality of living in NYC, but I had only been here a couple of years and hadn’t fully accepted my place “in the middle” yet. I decided that the best way for me to become more equal with a friend whom I idolized for her intellect, creativity, and worldliness was to travel more, like she did. She was just starting to freelance for Lonely Planet and Rough Guides, and I shared her curiosity for other cultures and places, so it didn’t seem so crazy that I would make it a goal to just get on a plane and… GO. My friend (who I’ll call Z) and her then boyfriend, now husband (let’s call him P) invited my …

Hitchhiking in Italy: The Worst Travel Decision I’ve Ever Made (Shocker, I Know!)

There I was, age 19, exactly 24 hours after setting out on a three-month tour of Europe, walking along the narrow shoulder of a busy freeway on the outskirts of Naples — then considered the most dangerous major city in Western Europe — bent under the weight of my backpack and the near-paralyzing fear that I would not live to see the sunrise. It was the middle of the night. My friend Angie and I had just been unceremoniously dumped from the cab of a transport truck onto the side of a busy exit ramp and left to fend for ourselves. From the start, it had been one of those episodes that, if it had gone another way, would have been the sort of headline-making story fellow travelers shake their heads at in an “obviously, this is what happens when you’re an idiot” way and parents brandish as a dire warning to children setting out to travel for the first time. In my own defense, the one good thing I can say about the worst …

A Superstar Visits Buenos Aires

Gospel music has a way of making people sound like better singers than they are. I should know—I’m one of those people. In general, one should not make too many assumptions about someone’s talent simply because that person sings professionally or publicly. When a person chooses to sing or not sing in front of other people, that choice doesn’t necessarily reflect the person’s musical ability (or lack thereof). Not all people who can sing do sing, and not all people who do sing can sing. If you’re wondering into which category I fall, the answer is who the hell knows? Can I carry a tune? Absolutely. (*Clears throat. Puts right index finger to ear and points left index finger to sky, like Mi-mi-mi-miiiiii. Do-re-mi-fa….*) Can I hit high notes? Usually. It depends on how many Marlboros I smoked (or how much Malbec I drank) the previous night. But when you sing in a gospel choir, especially an African-American gospel choir, hitting your notes is beside the point. The music is as much about the message …

Cyclone Approaching! Why I Chose to Dive Anyway

When you go on vacation, are you the cautious type, heavily insured and fully prepared for anything that could go wrong? Or are you a more adventurous type, for whom the worst seems easily resolvable with a little Immodium or an immediate call to Amex? You’re optimistic—you are on vacation, after all. You could be mugged in Mexico, and it would still be better than being at work. I’ve been that person. I’ve spent hours researching hotels and dining but overlooked required immunizations. I’ve put myself in questionable situations that could have been easily avoided with a little forethought—or any thought at all. Like the time I took a bus alone from Montevideo to Punta Del Este, Uruguay. It wasn’t until boarding that I realized that it was highly improbable I would know which stop was mine. I had just assumed there would be a large sign, “Welcome to Punta Del Este.” Or at least an English-speaking bus driver. Somehow, I managed to find a fellow passenger who knew both the stop and English, and …

Why I Kind of Hate Disney World

If you asked me to describe my worst vacation scenario, it would go something like this: The destination is perpetually crowded, it’s hot and noisy, the accommodations are bland at best, the food is unhealthy and unappetizing, I must wait in line to do anything, and I have to pay a sizable sum of money to have the crap scared out of me several times a day. Sound like fun to you? Then you must be a fan of Disney World. As you might have guessed, I am not. But it’s not Disney’s fault. On the contrary, I believe that for those who are so inclined, the place is top-notch. I don’t get the appeal, but I know that even grown-ups without children visit the park regularly. Some couples even honeymoon with Goofy. And for those people, Disney definitely hits the spot. You might assume I have shunned The Mouse’s kingdom, refusing to set foot near a single spinning teacup. But you would be wrong. For not only have I stomped my boots at the Country …

Margit’s Note: New York Walkabout

A trip can be a journey to Singapore or it can be a jaunt around the block. Both can do wonders to change your perspective and open up your mind. Come to think of it, I’m having a bit of writer’s block, so let’s go outside. First, I head to the Starbucks across the street on Broadway to get my usual green iced tea but a sign on the door reads, “Due to an emergency, we’re closed,” with a note about other nearby locations. Huh, ok. Recalculating. I stand for a minute and watch other people’s reactions. They stop dead and look around, confused, as if they can’t quite believe their daily routine could dismantle and/or what the hell kind of emergency makes a Starbucks close. Moving along… I walk to another Chinatown coffee shop and along the way notice this cool Basquiat-Warhol poster — a throwback to an older, grittier downtown. Dodging women hawking knock-off “Louis Vuitton-Michael Kors-Marc Jacobs” bags, I watch tourists pull off to the side and hover over a map. I …

Island for One, Please: Why I Love Traveling Solo

Are you one of those people who say they could never work virtually because they’d miss being around other people? Not me.  When I tell, friends that, they look at me in bewilderment. “But if you were stranded on a deserted island…” and I cut them off with, “Wait, where is it?” I’ve been looking for that island for years. No, I don’t need to go 100% off the grid, and it’s not that I don’t like people. It’s just that sometimes I prefer solitude. I find travelling alone, even in a crowded city, can give me some sense of “alone.” About 10 years ago, I took my first solo trip — on my way to visit a friend in Hong Kong, I decided to go to China on my own. It was one of the best trips I’ve ever taken, but eventually, I forgot that part of what I had loved was being on my own. Then, a few years ago, a friend bailed on a trip to Prague about a week before we …

I Always Travel With My…

When traveling, we all have that one thing we wouldn’t dare leave home without —a pashmina to keep us warm or earplugs to tune out Loud Baby. We asked our contributors for that one special thing… Baby Cashmere Blanket When my son was born, we received a gorgeous cashmere baby blanket from Susan Lazar, the designer, who is a childhood friend of mine. It is gray with his horoscope sign (Scorpio) in white. He no longer needs it — he is 10 now —  but it is the perfect blanket to use on an airplane. It is easy to stuff into a backpack, and it is cozy, soft, warm and luxe. —Lauren Young Moccasin Slippers I ALWAYS fly with my old Dearform moccasin slippers. Beige, furry and a hand-me-down from my mom circa 1982, these slippers are on my feet before the plane takes off. I’ve gotten some funny looks from other passengers but I don’t care. A few years ago, I lost my lucky slippers before a long haul to London, so I picked …

Dublin, Take Two: A Writer Revisits the Emerald Isle

The first time I took a whack at Dublin, I was working as an assistant in my first job after college. The second, I was an established travel writer “on holiday” with my then-boyfriend. There are some things that remained the same: the nippy weather, the reliable Guinness pours, the warm, amiable charm of the Irish people. But being able to go and do it “the proper way” this time — staying at a hotel instead of a six-to-a-bed mixed hostel room — gave me a whole new perspective on the city. Where to Stay The Shelbourne. It’s hard to get more central than St. Stephens Green, and this hotel wins not only for convenience but for cozy-yet-luxe accommodations. It was built in 1842, but the old-world charm melds nicely with modern conveniences. Paintings by local Irish artists hang in hallways and common areas and the spa is perfect when you need a warm sauna at the end of a cold day. Dylan Hotel. If it’s a more boutique-y feel you’re after, The Dylan is a laid-back hotel …

Margit’s Note: Hey, Let’s Take a Trip!

I’m hearing that Jonathan Richman song, “Let’s Take a Trip.” He rocks out, “I’ve got my jeans and things and I’m ready to go.” The idea of quickly packing up the essentials, hopping in the car, and meandering into the unknown. Can we leave, like now? Sure, most of us are travelling out of familial love and duty this time of year, but we can also plan and dream for a different trip sometime next year. A hut on Vanuatu. A corner of sand on Coney Island. I’m not picky. This week, in addition to serving up some brand-new stories, we’re highlighting several of our Second-Time Travel pieces, as well. You know, those places you may have been once? We track down the secret alleys and hidden gems to see the second time around. It’s an insider’s guide of sorts. (And if you’d like to write one of these for us, pitch us at hello@tuenight.com!) So let’s go go go… Lilit Marcus does the writer’s trip to Dublin. Courtney Colwell extols the virtues of solo travel. …