Thursday, July 26, 2007

Travel excitement

For me the excitement of a group trip, i.e., the kind of I've been taking with groups arranged by a tour operator, which is to say I'll be with people I've never met, begins when I get the list of names and cities they are from. Today I got the list for the upcoming central Europe trip -- besides me, 7 women and one man -- and a male tour guide. Three Canadian women, the rest from the US. Just names. It always starts that way. Soon each name will be a person! It's the simplest thing possible but a wonder nevertheless. I have a single room being the late comer so this time there is no roommate compatibility question -- I've never had an uncompatible roommate, but some have been especially good to room with and I've stayed in touch with some of them. The people are important, people always are important!

And then there's the brochure with all the pictures of castles and scenic vistas. It could be anywhere, soon it will be something I saw and have stored in my memory. On some trips I've almost ODed on Greek and Roman ruins, and I suspect that on this I'll come near to OD-ing on baroque and renaissance architecture. But it's not all towns with oxymoranic "rectangular squares" in the center, there are forests and rivers, there are castles. And there is history. Some I know, but it's sketchy. I'll know a lot more soon -- that's fun. So I'm getting excited, anticipating that first diinner together in Prague when we'll assess each other, probably introduce ourselves with a little information and begin to sort out who has common interests. I love the anticipation -- tho' not as much as actually being somewhere new. But for me almost everything about traveling [once beyond the neo-nazis at the security check-in x-ray machines and once the plane is actually airborne], it's all cake and ice cream.
I had a postcard from someone recently showing the redwood forest in northern California. The woman mentioned it was the 30th World Heritage site she had visited. As I read escriptions of towns and castles I'll see on this trip, 5 or 6 are World Heritage sites. I think there are about 850 total. So now I'm wondering about getting a list and seeing how many I have seen. It's got to approach, or maybe top 100. I'm not especially interested in keeping that kind of record but my curiosity is piqued.

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