Off for the month of April, opportunity to re-group before six-months of travel: Greece, Turkey, Middle East, Arabian Peninsula, North Africa. When I travel, carry a small notebook; maintain real-time “to do” list that I need to complete; I can’t even remember what I ate for breakfast. 28-days goes by quickly, dump out the backpack and re-pack.
Place the largest, single Amazon order that I recall ($300). While not reckless, spend more freely, because there are items that I won’t be able to buy overseas: backpack rain cover, neck gaiter (desert), wet shave brush, shave soap, zero drop shoes, braided travel clothesline, 110-240v universal power adapter, USB-chargeable toothbrush, synthetic t-shirt, pair of split running shorts, Excedrin Migraine, and some vitamins.
Bought some new underwear, too. For those of you keeping score at home, you may recall that I had food poisoning in San Cristobal, Mexico, puked in the parking lot and shit my pants, before boarding an overnight bus to Puerto Escondido.
Intention is to keep the backpack light, weight adds up walking a few miles to bus or train stations. If an item doesn’t have multiple use, or won’t be used often, it’s removed; departing for London, backpack weighed-in at 20-pounds; pack weighs 3-pounds empty;.
Meet up with family and friends. Darden classmate, Deven, passed through Connecticut, meet up for coffee. Take my parents out to dinner, Beamhouse, to celebrate my Father’s 85th birthday. Meet my friends, Dave and Kim, for dinner and to see the film, Air. Celebrate Easter with family. Dentist appointment, routine cleaning. Meet my friend, John, for lunch at Modern Pizza in New Haven; we complete the trifecta, including Frank Pepe and Sally’s. It’s my birthday, get a free latte with heavy cream at Starbucks, makes up for instant coffee in Guatemala City, of all places. Completed 18-mile relay race in the rain with my twin brother and sister-in-law.
Time for baking, too; bake pull-apart dinner rolls, an enriched, brioche dough with cup of sugar and stick of butter; able to maintain dough strength by slowly incorporating the sugar; incorporating sugar all at once, and the dough goes slack in a complete mess. Bake sourdough bread, too; use stiff levain to maintain dough strength, and finger pinch of yeast so that dough rise isn’t sluggish; bake at 500-degrees for chestnut-colored loaf, and stunning flavor.
Reviewed travel itinerary, and tightened it up; fewer destinations, longer stays, less dizzy. Reserved a few airline flights, what I call book-ends; try to reserve outside 90-day window for better airfare. Register travel plans, and emergency contact, with US State Department. Also consider potential travel plans for next year:
A. Antarctica and South America: fascinated by Shackleton’s failed Endurance mission in 1914; cruise from Ushuaia to South Georgia Island and Antarctica, not inexpensive, $8,000 for ten day voyage. Upon completion, transit South America.
B. Australia, New Zealand, Japan, China, Tibet, Nepal: current China-US political environment is strained; Tibet requires visa and tour guide. Enjoy train travel, and Qinghai-Tibet Railway is the highest in the world, climbing from 2,829m above sea level at Golmud to 3,641m at Lhasa, much of it built on permafrost.
C. Capetown to Cairo via train: in past years, could travel 70% of this route via train; pandemic has caused disruption, down to 60%; need to fly over Sudan (Level 4: do not travel); onward travel to Western Balkans and Scandinavian Europe.
D. Central Asia: western Turkey, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Pakistan, Karakoram Highway (Silk Road), and five former Soviet republics: Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan; a unique corner of the world.
E. Southeast Asia: Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, Singapore, Vietnam; tack on South Korea and Japan. This is the most likely itinerary, due to ease of obtaining travel visa. One idea is to arrive via an island-hopping campaign from Hawaii to Polynesia; another idea is to return to the United States via freighter from Japan or Hong Kong.
Travel New York City to London, Tuesday April 25th, may the experience be unique.