Saturday, May 23, 2009

The Obsessive Traveller

~ I recently finished reading, The Obsessive Traveller by the Australian author David Dale.

Despite the fact that it was first published in 1991, I like the book for the way Dale combines many experiences into each chapter. Rather than write in a linear fashion, that is, start at the beginning of a journey and document his travels from start to finish, he divides the book into sections with each chapter looking at different aspects of the travel experience.

That way he can write about, and compare luxury hotels he has stayed at in America, France, Italy, and elsewhere. Or he can do the same for meals he has eating in various countries; famous burial grounds he has visited – one of his obsessions; and a host of other experiences.

I particularly liked his fondness for choosing an item from menus when he has no idea of what the item or meal might be. It was the danger and excitement of knowing he might discover an amazing gastronomic delight, or find himself eating something plain and bland, or worse still, disgusting and inedible that made his dining out experiences just that much more interesting.

Dale also made a point of using public transport as much as possible wherever he travelled. As he rightly noted, and as I myself found, there is so much more to observe and discover about a city and its inhabitants when you share their buses, subway trains, and other means of public transportation.

I also like how he indulges himself at least once on every trip he takes. He does this by spending at least three nights in some of the most expensive and exclusive hotels he can afford. One of these cost him $400 a night (and this was during the 1990s), but he built this indulgence into his budget. It was Dale’s way of rewarding himself for tightening his ‘purse strings’ throughout the rest of the trip. It also gave him an opportunity to try out the top end of the travel experience, if only for a brief few days.

While on a much more modest level, I too enjoyed my stay at the Lake Placid EconoLodge hotel, in upstate New York when I stayed there during May 2008. At US$60 a night, it was twice the price of my YMCA accommodations in New York City, but the luxury of having my own room with two double beds, en suite, TV, tea and coffee making facilities, and free WiFi internet connection was worth the expense.

As far as accommodations are concerned, it was in fact, my only major indulgence in seven months. The hotels I used in London, while more expensive than the Lake Placid EconoLodge, were far more modest.

The book is informative, easy to read, full of humorous anecdotes and observations, and makes me want to travel again – sooner rather than later.

I’m delighted to find that David Dale is alive and well and still writing.

You can read his bio here…
He also has a blog, Who We Are, here at the Sun-Herald here…
And his own Essential Ideas website is here…

Image courtesy of Wall Media website

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