April 7th, 2013

Ok fellow travelers, here’s my declaration for the day: My favorite airport is Amsterdam’s Schiphol. Granted, I do not say this as someone who claims to have been to so very many of the world’s airports. I’m sure lots of you have, in fact, been to lots more than I may ever get to in my lifetime. Still, I’ve gotten myself around a bit and I love Schiphol.

Describing the last time I flew through Amsterdam, I think, is as good a way as any to justify my argument. I had flown from San Francisco, so was getting off something like an 11-hour flight. My destination, Berlin, would only take 1 little hour more in the air, but I had to wait 6 hours to get on that next plane. I was that horrible, cramped, painful, time-confused kind of exhausted that can make international travel seem like masochistic lunacy and all I wanted was a corner to crawl into. In most of the airports I’ve been laid over in, I could have found some little space to cram myself into, trying to get enough room to stretch my poor crunched limbs, without being too greedy and inconsiderate of the hordes around me who also needed a place to sit. At Schiphol, however, I took a little stroll and found a long, empty corridor, with no gates, no shops, no busy-ness. At the end of that corridor were a few lounge chairs, all empty, and windows with a view of the runways. I got myself a coffee with a shot of whiskey in it and lay there, alternating between dozing and watching the planes come and go. It was a peculiar blissed out trance that I fell into that day and it’s hard to believe that all the hustle and bustle and commerce of such a major airport could have afforded me that peace.

That’s only my experience, though. What’s your favorite?

April 3rd, 2013

The weather this week has been strange. It’s supposed to rain and then it doesn’t, or it does, but only very early in the morning. The clouds hover, mostly staying clear of the overhead space, but still sitting, waiting, on the horizon. And everyday the week’s forecast changes. Will the next days bring a full, cathartic rainstorm, or will it all just pass through and make way for summer? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see.

What this weird uncertainty does give us, though, is the perfect chance to visit Muir Woods, the redwood park just north of the Golden Gate Bridge. In ordinary circumstances it’s a well-maintained path through a field of old growth redwood trees, so, in other words, a chance to experience secular magic, and it’s for sure highly recommended. To go, though, when it’s raining is to hear a storm around you, and yet be protected by an ancient canopy. I’m not trying to be overdramatic and sappily poetic, but these trees have been alive for hundreds and hundreds of years, some of them even over a thousand, and when they are sheltering my individual little self from the elements, it makes me feel special.

Too cheesy for you? There are two other reasons to go to Muir Woods when it’s raining. First, the rain will be a deterrent to some people and so will alleviate the one problem with this popular tourist destination, namely, too many other people having the same idea as you on the same day and cramping up your walking space. The second is that if you were already looking for an outdoor adventure for this weekend but the things you were considering become too dangerous when they get wet, Muir Woods stays safe both because of the protective cover and because it’s actually a completely flat path so you will never, ever, ever slip on a wet rock and fall off a cliff.

Convinced? Maybe I’ll see you there.