Deb Eve’s Best & Worst Travel Recommendations

img_2568As anyone who’s been following The Ball this year – or who has read FIRST COMES LOVE, THEN COMES MALARIA – knows, it might seem as if I have traveled a lot. But the other day, I met up with a dear friend who racks up frequent flier miles like the rest of us collect dryer lint. Listening to her most recent jaunts between Atlanta, Zambia, China and Laos, (she’s the director of the CDC’s Global AIDS Program) I feel as if I’ve never even left the farm.

So, mindful of all the places in the world I have yet to visit, I would like to humbly offer this list of some of my best and worst travel recommendations.

Best place to go island hopping, sunbathe nude and eat olives (sometimes all at the same time): Greece.

Worst place to realize you really should NOT have drank the tap water, (NO MATTER WHAT THE GUIDE BOOK SAID): on a bus somewhere in Turkey.

Worst place to have a life-threatening nosebleed (or probably any other life-threatening ailment): Uzbekistan.

Worst way to travel: on the next flight out of Uzbekistan, with your nose packed in gauze and hooked up to an IV, (for some reason, it really makes the other passengers nervous).

Best place to get medically evacuated to: Thailand – medical care is excellent, hospitals are immaculate, shrimp and massages are considered medically necessary.

Best place to have hot coffee spilled on your lap while watching giraffes run alongside you at sunrise: The overnight train from Mombasa to Nairobi, Kenya.

Worst place to book a second class sleeper car to share with your in-laws: The aforementioned train, also known as the Lunatic Express (no wonder our tickets were so cheap!)

Best place to feel like a kid in a Swiss Family Robinson treehouse (and maybe see an elephant in your pajamas): The Treetops Resort in the Aberdare Mountains in Kenya.

red_squareBest place to bring children: Thailand, where construction workers will actually climb down off their scaffolding, not to cat-call at you, but to cootchy-coo your baby. And incredibly patient waitresses will entertain your children so you and your hubby can enjoy a fabulous meal. (ALL meals in Thailand are fabulous.)

Worst place to take the kids: The Hermitage in St. Petersburg (they REALLY mean it when they say “NYET TOUCHING THE PRETTY, SHINY NATIONAL TREASURES!”) followed by Moscow, where, trust me on this, NO ONE THINKS IT’S THE LEAST BIT CUTE, when your kids chase the pigeons around Red Square.

Best way to attempt to drive cross-country with your kids: In a 25-year-old, biodiesel RV that “drives like a marshmallow,” leaks oil, smokes like a chimney and won’t go more than 40mph uphill. It was fun! Actual quote, from one of Deb Eve’s actual children.

Worst way to actually GET across the country: In the aforementioned 25-year-old biodiesel RV that drives like a marshmallow, leaks oil, smokes like a chimney and breaks down everywhere. It would have been better if it ran. Actual quote from one of Deb Eve’s actual children. (The same child. The other one was busy rolling her eyes and making sure NO ONE actually saw her riding in the affectionately named “Alum-A-Womb.”)

Best way to make a short vacation seem long and/or Worst way imaginable to travel with a toddler: On a skutje (a very rustic type of sailboat with very low edges and cramped spaces) sailing through the canals of northern Holland. Did I mention we were two families of four sharing this skutje and it was ten, very rainy days? And that we didn’t bring a leash for the toddler?

Best place to shrug your shoulders and say, “What the hey?”: Maui Sands, the indoor waterpark and hotel in (get this) Sandusky, Ohio. But they greet you with “Aloha,” toss leis around your neck, your kids will LOVE it and after one or two tropical drinks, you won’t even remember that you are in a strip mall, NOWHERE near the ocean!

Best overlooked (and let’s face it, overlookable) tourist site in America: The Jell-O Museum in LeRoy, NY. Yup, an entire museum devoted to a dessert made from the connective tissue of hooved animals. Also available to meet the dietary requirements of people of the Jewish faith. Direct quote from the museum’s docent, who does not have nearly as much of a sense of humor as should be required for that job.

Happy travels and I’d love to hear about some of your best and worst travel recommendations.

~Deb Eve

9 Replies to “Deb Eve’s Best & Worst Travel Recommendations”

  1. I shouldn’t have read this over my morning tea! Keyboard now demanding water wings.

    Hilarious post. A great way to start the day, especially at this grizzly hour. I’ve been going to bed and getting up earlier and earlier for the past week in my attempt to get myself onto UK time before I fly into London on June 1st for my book tour. But, as a card-carrying night owl, I’ve not found it easy, and it makes me wonder how on earth I managed when my kids were little. Guess I was a wee bit younger then.

  2. HAAA!! I knew you wouldn’t disappoint, Eve! Loved this.

    OK, that settles it. Next stop: Thailand.

    Also, I can’t help thinking of the Groucho Marx quote: “Last night I shot an elephant in my pajamas. How he got into my pajamas I’ll never know.”

  3. So funny! I love how you take everything in stride. And as far as overlooked/overlookable tourist sites, anyone ever been to the Corn Palace in Mitchell, South Dakota? It’s…well, it’s something.

  4. Very funny, Eve! When we drove across the country, we begged to stop to see the “Jack-a-lope” after seeing it advertised for roughly 500 miles. It was a tourist pit featuring a giant fake rabbit with antelope antlers just to tempt people in to buy postcards. Very disappointing.

    Lydia’s parents in Posed for Murder are always sending her postcards from weird spots, and it’s so much fun to research them online. Did you know there’s a soybean museum somewhere out there in the heartland?

  5. When we drove (well, sorta) cross-country we also passed RV museum and Abraham Lincoln leading a parade and the rest of the family wouldn’t let us stop to see those (I wanted my picture with Abe) and I just KNOW there’s that giant ball of string somewhere. That’s why I was bound and determined to make it to the Jello Museum! If I ever make it out to South Dakota, hot dang! I am going to the Corn Palace!

    In Thailand, Kris, just get out of Bangkok as soon as you can. Bangkok is just horribly overcrowded and chaotic (with excellent hospitals). It’s the rest of the country you want to see.

    Maggie – Have a fabulous trip and launch and everything. I am quite envious of that busy, busy schedule someone’s set up for you! Good luck!

  6. I just finished your book over my lunch break at work. (Okay, so I might have gone slightly over my 60 minutes, but it was either that or get caught sneaking peeks at the last 10 pages while I sat in my cubicle. I just couldn’t hold off for the bus ride home tonight.) I’m an RPCV too and thought your book did a great job of capturing life overseas. Your humor and honesty were very compelling. Thanks for sharing your story with us!

    Best place to sit at the edge of a grassy cliff while gazing out at the ocean: the Isle of Skye in Scotland

    Best place to go as a Peace Corps volunteer: Burkina Faso 😉

  7. Thanks KG – So glad you enjoyed the book! St. John was a PCV in BF! But you already knew that!

    Am putting the Isle of Skye on my must-get-to list. Thanks.

  8. Eve

    I just read two novels set in Skye, by Linda Gillard, an Edinburgh-based author who lived on Skye for 8 years. The best of the two (both were excellent) is STAR GAZING and the main character is blind. The author did a fabulous job of allowing the reader to ‘see’ the story through the character’s other senses. The book isn’t pub’d in the US, but it’s probably available in the secondary market. I was lucky enough to get a copy directly from the author. She’s been hugely helpful to me about places to get the word out about my own novel.

    The descriptions of Skye are breathtaking.


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