As a true explorer and traveler, I love my “I travel where the cheap tickets take me” attitude, but after my last “glitch” destination vacation to a place I barely liked with friends I sometimes love, I decided I need to sometimes travel for something other than travel sake. It’s been a few years since showing up in a place I’ve chosen based on my passions and needs, and something is missing. I’ve lost my way, and need to return to my travel roots.
Years ago I chose London to recreate the infamous Abbey Road crosswalk photo. I chose Belgium because I had an undying need to piss on the statue of King Leopold. I chose Amsterdam because I heard the coffee shops sold more than coffee, and although I’m not a smoker, “when in Rome…(or this case Amsterdam).”
I want to travel for food:
There are restaurants I’ll visit and chefs I’ll ask to step out of the kitchen to be praised directly. Torrential rains kept me out of Modena, Italy a few years back, but I promised I’d come soon. I want to wake up early, through on some light favbrics and a hat I’d usually not wear, and go to a market like I imagine the old women do for bread and veggies for lunch. I want the Grey and Black Rice with Oscietra Royal Caviar as my first course and Ox Rib-eye with pickled veggies as my second, and I want Massimo Bottura to cook it. I’ll pretend I like red wine.
I like surprises. Some years back, in Brixton, my favorite area of London, I found a door buzzer outside a random, beautiful Victorian home, and I pressed it. There was a hidden, Michelin-rated restaurant on the upper floor called Upstairs that introduced me to a plate of veal ravioli and a bowl of fennel soup I swear I’ll never have again. I want more surprises. I want to walk down empty alleys in Lisbon and happen upon Bolos da Madrugada (“Cakes at Dawn”). I want egg cream-filled Portuguese donuts for breakfast with a pretty woman on her way to work, and custard tarts after the club when we randomly connect again and decide to go til dawn.
I want to know chefs by their first name and be invited into kitchens and cellars other customers have never seen. I want to be able to call Dominique Crenn “friend.”
Other Restaurants: Steirereck (Vienna, Austria); Asador Etxebarri (Axpe, Spain); L’arpege (Paris, France); Geranium (Copenhagen, Denmark); Vendome (Bergisch Gladbach, Germany); Attica (Melbourne, Australia); Pujol (Mexico City, Mexico)
I want to travel to hang my hammock between trees:
The Mae Hong Son province of Northern Thailand will have me feeling like Che, traversing by motorbike, parking, and filling pages in my journal while swaying away in my Eno hammock. At least this is how I’ve imagined it after talking to the young, but wise, Ghanaian woman on the bus from Amsterdam to Brussels.
A quick boat trip away from Hiroshima is the Island, Miyajima. I want to get lost in the plush greens of the hills on a sunny day and turn on my Rain Sounds app and listen to my perfect mix of Rain on Japanese Temple, Oregon Coastal Rainforest, Cologne Thunderstorm, and Small River in Scotland.
Minchin Cove is in Terra Nova National Park in Newfoundland. I want to talk about my days long hike into the center of the park while at dinner parties with lovers, and share stories of being chased by wildlife and almost having to drink my own pee as death approached like it did the guy played by James Franco. I don’t truly know if any of this will happen, but a guy can imagine, can’t he?
Patagonia, Chile is where I’d test the weight limit of my hammock on a romantic getaway or a friend’s trip. I want to sway while listening to guided meditations that help me with gratitude and restful nights.
I want to travel to meet myself. There are places my ex has gone where the human eye can see the bend of the earth. I want to see that. I want to ride a sleeper train thru Mumbai and drink tea with a woman on her way to meet a waiting lover and talk to her about how we love differently. I want to record hostel noises, and random conversations and babbling brooks.
I’m cheap as hell, so I’ll never lose that “I’ve never thought about __________(insert random country here), but it’s only $20 for a round trip, so I should go” attitude, but I will work harder on my true #TravelGoals.
Darnell Lamont Walker, a self-professed traveling foodie, has been found sitting at tables eating baby goat sweetbreads, drinking tequila, and laughing loudly with strangers. The writer, filmmaker, artist, and sometimes photographer puts happiness above all.