Monday, August 23, 2010

Moonlighting as a Travel Agent

I love giving travel advice. If you know me, you’ll know this simple and undeniable fact. The very reason for starting this blog was to promote travel, to tell my own travel stories and to give ideas and advice to anyone who will listen.

I go gaga at the mere mention of travel, whether it is you, your friend or your mother’s aunt’s dog’s cousin twice removed who is travelling…I love to offer my suggestions and stories about my experiences whenever welcome. I can talk ad nauseam about planes, trains, automobiles and that’s just on the subject of transportation. Get me going on specific destinations and you’ll never hear the end of it.

I try to limit my travel advice to when it is solicited. Generally, I find people are much more receptive to just about any kind of advice when they ask for it…travel tips not excluded.

A few weeks ago I had some friends ask me where they should go on their honeymoon. They were thinking Italy and/or Greece but had no idea where to start. Little did they know I would prepare an entire report on locations in Italy, Greece and also a personal suggestion, one of my favorite destinations, Turkey.

My friends decided to book their once in a lifetime love-trip to Athens and the Greek isle of Santorini. In addition to a slew of other information, I recommended a restaurant on Santorini that I visited years ago called Senor Zorba’s, a Mexican restaurant. I started out by advising they not actually eat there…Mexican food in Greece, not really authentic or at all appealing for that matter. I suggested they toast to their life together over a margarita while watching the legendary sunset over the caldera and the glistening Aegean Sea. While not an epicurean paradise, Senor Zorba’s provides a lovely and very romantic spot high atop the white-washed cliffs of Santorini.

My friends aren’t the only ones to feed my obsession with giving travel advice. My father is a corporate pilot and flies all around the world. I often live vicariously through him as he flies his company’s executives to far-flung destinations and then gets to wander, eat, and play until they are ready to return home. Years ago my father flew to Edinburgh, Scotland where the executives had a short meeting in the city centre. Because I lived in this gorgeous city and am absolutely fanatical for anything involving my darling Edinburgh, I prepared a two page list of restaurants, activities, and must-see sights. My jet-lagged, time-crunched dad didn’t have the time or energy to do one of my suggestions let alone the whole list but I couldn’t help myself, I wanted him to have options.

The same thing happened when he was in Paris over night last year. Excited that my dad would finally see The City of Light, I prepared a very detailed report on public transportation from the airport he flew into, shops, a small language guide (I speak French) and most importantly some restaurant recommendations. Eating well in Paris is paramount. I sent my father and his co-pilot to one of my favorite restaurants in the world, Joel Robouchon’s Atelier. Located in the posh Hotel Pont Royal, this Michelin starred restaurant focuses around the kitchen, the workshop. Guests sit at a bar which encircles the open kitchen and meticulous chefs preparing Robouchon’s unearthly creations. The portions are small and meant for a tasting experience. However, I made sure my dad knew to get a large portion of the mashed potatoes…they’re what dreams are made of!

I spent all morning digging up info for my friend’s honeymoon, I spent multiple days gathering information on Paris hot spots, and I took a lovely and nostalgic trip down memory lane compiling my list of recommendations in Edinburgh. I want my friends and family to enjoy their trips. Nevertheless, I can’t say my travel tips are entirely selfless. I truly, honestly love travel research and interjecting with my own experiences and stories so much so that I probably should have become a travel agent. It makes me so happy, giddy even. Train tables, fare watchers, hotel guides…you name it, I have fun dreaming about visiting other places.

So, be prepared when you ask me for travel advice. You will literally make my day (or week depending on where you’re going) and you’ll get more information on a place and how to get there than you ever imagined. If that’s not your bag Baby, check out a copy of Lonely Planet at your nearby library and knock yourself out.

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