Travels With Tadji

The fun and not so fun details about my travels, including research, planning, and the importance of letting serendipity find it's way.

Traveling is the enemy of bigotry

-Francis O’Donnell

Savor Every Morsel

The French have a healthy love affair with food and with meal times. When I first started organizing canal boat trips, I learned that reservations in restaurants are almost always required, especially in the smaller towns outside of Paris.  It was the strangest thing.  We would arrive in a small town along the canals and just figured we’d walk into a restaurant and be seated. I mean, come on, it’s a tiny, little town.  Of course they’ll be excited to have our group walk in and give them the business.  But that wasn’t the case.  They would just say, ‘Sorry, there is no place.’  Ok?  (look of confusion on my face) So…for how long?  When should we come back?  “It’s not possible.  You do not have a reservation.”  I didn’t understand why they would just turn away customers like that.  I guess that’s a very American way of looking at the situation.  $$$  The restaurant runs a business to make money, the customer (diner) is eating to satisfy hunger.  We order, we eat, we pay, and we leave.  Not so in France.  The French don’t eat casually.  Food is to be enjoyed, savored, appreciated.  So, why won’t they put our name on a wait list?  My only explanation is that because they don’t believe in rushing though a meal, the restaurant has no idea when, or if, the table will be available to seat another party.  There’s no rush to get you out the door.  The servers are paid a salary.  Tipping may be appreciated, but it’s not required.  Therefore, servers will not rush you to pay your bill.  Take...

Isolated, but Not Forlorn

From the plane I could see the crystal clear, turquoise waters. I hadn’t expected paradise…more like a storm ravaged island, the kind all the stories and myths about the Bermuda Triangle had led me to believe what it would be like.  I landed in L.F. Wade International Airport and after waiting in the long customs line, I was sent to a separate office.  Since I didn’t have a return flight, I had to confirm that I was indeed leaving the country.  I was not sure I wanted to, based on my first impression from the sky.  Once cleared, I took a taxi from one end of the island to another, to Pier 4 Marina at the Dockyard. Quetzal was moored along the quay across from the America’s Cup training facility. The U.S. and Japan teams were training in their catamaran hydrofoils, literally rocket ships just barely touching the water. Yes, there was also the very large,  assuming cruise ship off our stern, but I tried to pretend it wasn’t there…unless something was blaring from the loud speaker. We spent the rest of the day relaxing aboard QUETZAL while I got settled in.  Of course, we later went out for an authentic ‘Dark & Stormy’.  Since I like to assimilate into the local culture, I figured, no better place to start than trying the local cocktails. The next day we rented a scooter and rode all around the island. The south coast is famous for pink sandy beaches and rocky coves.  The weather was perfect, the sun shining brightly, and the sea sparkled. It was truly magnificent. Not sure how...

Stand-By…Luck or Good Timing

Am I a lucky person or was it just a matter of good timing? I flew standby on a Delta buddy pass from Ft. Lauderdale, Florida to Bangkok, Thailand. If you’ve never flown standby on a buddy pass, then I’ll fill you in. We are at the bottom of the totem-pole, bottom feeders…meaning that everyone one else on standby (employees, their immediate family, retired employees, employees from partner airlines) gets first dibs on any available seats. This process can be quite nerve wracking, especially when you have three legs, each one being standby, and are traveling half way around the world…not that I’m complaining or anything. I am much appreciative of being able to travel abroad for just a fraction of the cost. And then when your name gets called and you know you’ve been assigned a seat on the flight, it feels like you’ve hit the jackpot, even when it’s the last row on the plane next to the toilet. There’s no direct or easy way to get from Ft Lauderdale, Florida to Bangkok, Thailand. The first leg of my journey was from Ft Lauderdale to JFK in New York. When I arrived at the airport I checked my status. I was 12th on the list with 13 available seats. I felt pretty good about those odds because there was only about an hour before boarding. However, I knew I could easily get bumped further down the list. The second leg, from JFK to Narita Airport (Tokyo), had plenty of seats available so I was pretty confident about getting a seat. The last leg, from Tokyo to Bangkok...

Taking Flight

I didn’t realize it’s been so long since my last blog. From Kekova we sailed to Finike mostly because it was a good starting point for a road trip to Cappadocia. As we finished docking in the marina another sailboat, Jeanneau 54, came in and docked right next to us. Apparently I should have given way because they were under sail and we had taken our sails down and were motoring in. Whatever!  We would have just had to bob around in the water waiting for them to catch up. No thank you. However, the three men on the boat were very friendly and struck-up conversation immediately with John. They were probably shocked that John had actually sailed from USA. The majority of boats here carry a U.S. flag and are registered in Delaware because of a tax break. So most people just assume we’re one of those boats, but when they hear us speaking English, or should I say American, they know we’re authentic. By the way, Barclay says he’s going to teach me English. I had no idea that being ‘pissed’ means being drunk. Anyway, the guys on the Jeanneau invited us over for drinks and we found them to be quite interesting. Jean is Lebanese and lives in Beirut running the family fashion business. He has previously lived in Texas, Singapore, and Paris. Ziad is Lebanese and lives in Paris. And Giovanni is…I let you guess at this one. Right, he’s Italian but lives in Cannes. The next day was filled with boat projects for John and reading for me, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walters. We...