I will never forget my first time at Disney World, mostly because I was 25 years old at the time. Yes, I was a bit of a late bloomer on the Disney thing. I never went there as a child, possibly because I don't think my sisters and I ever really wanted to go, but more likely because my parents figured a college education was more important than an overpriced trip to see a college student dressed as a mouse. As it turns out, my parents were right all along. College was a blast. And Disney sucks.
Hold on, Disneyphiles! Hear me out before you stick your Mickey ears up my backside.
I endured the trip to Disney World twice, both times really wishing I could see the glory and wonder in it that everyone else did (and I’m talking about full-grown adults here, not kids). It ended up having the opposite effect on me, most importantly because nothing is real. You walk through this little village in the park that is supposed to look like, I don’t know, a colonial town or something (it’s been awhile, all I can remember is the candy shop). Then you walk through another part of the park that is supposed to look like Germany. Or is that Hershey park? Whatever. I think you know what I mean, anyway. You get on this boat that takes you through a town with fake people waving at you, and plastic pirates hanging out of a fake ship drinking fake rum. You go to Space Mountain hoping to ride the one ride that remotely resembles a rollercoaster only to find out that it’s closed for repairs. Disappointed, you go to a “restaurant” (cafeteria) only to spend $25 on a rubbery hamburger and fries that were made 12 hours ago and kept warm by a heat lamp. And of course the only open seat is the one surrounded by the families whose kids are screaming that they refuse to eat their chicken nuggets because they want to see the princesses NOW!
Never again. If I ever acquire an accidental child of my own, I will never take it there, I promise (unless they start serving real rum on the pirate ride). My apologies if I’ve offended the Disney lovers, but I’m sure you would hate a trip to Stockholm in January, yet to me that would be beyond awesome.
There’s only one vacation in the world that would probably be worse than Disney, and that’s a cruise. It doesn’t matter where the cruise is going. Trapped for a week on a giant floating shopping mall with chain restaurants and closet-sized accommodations, where you’re forced to dine at the same table with complete strangers and attend social functions? Oh my god, could it get any worse?
Again, as it is with the Disneyphiles, I know there are so many people who insist that a cruise is the best vacation on Earth. They have tried and tried to convince me that I would absolutely love it, their intentions so good at heart, but I really think I’d better enjoy camping in the Everglades in the middle of July without a tent.
My favorite vacations have been the ones where I can experience the simplest of things. I don’t need to do anything crazy, like skydiving (I take it back, there is something worse than a cruise!) or shark diving (sorry Lou) or crocodile hunting (although that would probably be necessary to survive my camping trip in the Everglades). All I really want from a vacation is a change of scenery. I want to hang out where the locals do, learn a little bit of history about the place, take a ridiculous amount of photographs, and most importantly eat at the restaurants that tourists don’t even know about. In other words, I want to pretend that I live there. I want it to be real.
I live vicariously through others by reading travel memoirs, because those writers are usually the people who can afford to take long, lazy vacations to dream destinations and become a part of the local culture (some of my favorites are Bill Bryson’s In A Sunburned Country, A Walk in the Woods, and I’m a Stranger Here Myself ; Julia Child’s My Life in France; a book about the history of America’s eating habits called The Food of a Younger Land; and – believe it or not – Eat, Pray, Love). I also beg my traveling friends to take thousands of pictures and tell me detailed stories so I can pretend like I went on their trip with them. It’s very satisfying for me, although I imagine it must be quite annoying for the traveling friend who is subjected to my inquisition.
This seemingly sudden case of wanderlust is not sudden at all. I’ve always loved to travel, but circumstances prohibited it for many years. Now I am really starting to feel the itch again. Here are some destinations I fantasize about when I need something to get through the work day.
-Japan (which frightens me a little because I know absolutely no Japanese).
-Paris (perhaps because I just read Sacre Bleu!).
-London (less intimidating because at least I speak a little English).
-Pretty much all of Europe, let’s be honest.
-Too many cities and towns along the Pacific coast to name here, but if you live in one of those cities, you may want to turn off your lights and lock your doors because I might visit you.
-Anywhere in Colorado where I can ski (as long as there's an ER nearby).
-Alaska during the summer solstice.
-Alaska during the winter solstice.
-Oh, yeah, and Hawaii too.
This is by no means a complete list. My bucket list is as long as my reading list (which is already longer than my remaining lifespan will allow). I welcome any travel suggestions from you, my readers, to make my bucket list even longer and more difficult to attain than it already is. I love a challenge.