How Not To Drive From Paris To Avignon

Gourdon

I actually don’t have any photos of the trip. This was taken on another harrowing mountainside two weeks later.

On the last day of April in the Year of Our Lord 2012, fellow travel writer Melanie Waldman and I decided to rent a car in Paris and drive down to Avignon for our stay at the Hotel d’Europe. This is our story.

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Best Cruise Ever, If You’re Me

The Love Boat For Policy Wonks, by Henry Alford in the New York Times.

The 460 of us — about a fourth of the ship’s passengers — were welcomed at a cocktail party held poolside on the Lido Deck. Two things quickly became clear here. First, the diversity and intellectual accomplishments of the 460 were fairly staggering — included among the Nation readers who paid $1,991 to $8,657 for the cruise were many academics, several judges, a founder of The Chronicle of Higher Education, a scientist who worked on the Manhattan Project, a retired Army major, a steel company vice president, a former drug trafficker, four granddaughters aged 15 to 22, State Representative Mike Boland of Illinois, the public health expert Dr. Quentin Young and the feminist author Marilyn French. Second, many of the so-called cruisers were unhappy that the 2000 election spoiler Ralph Nader was on board.

“If he’s assigned to my table at dinner,” a pixielike retired Californian in her 60s told me as she downed her third cocktail, “I’m going to switch tables.”

Seriously? This cruise is now second only to the Global Scavenger Hunt on my list of best novelty vacations EVER. So many amazing trips to take, so not independently wealthy!

Mission Accomplished: The Freedom Ship!

I have seen the future, and now I need a Dramamine.

My parents and their friends and cousins have been having to deal with retirement homes and nursing homes for the last 15 years or so, which has prompted them to think about how they want to spend their own retirement. This is when I had first heard of retirement cruises, which apparently is not an urban legend but an actual possibility for life after work. You book a room on a cruise and sail around the world chasing summer and feeling the sea breeze in your hair.

I like this idea. A lot. It feeds my travel obsession, and it plays nicely to my dream of never having a permanent home. It’s a hotel on the sea – two of my favorite things wrapped into one! And this article just seals the deal – breakfast in bed every day and free toiletries sounds just up my alley.

Then, Cal discovered the most amazingest of all amazings – THE FREEDOM SHIP. They cruise around the world every two years – meaning, it takes two eyars to complete the voyage, but you can live on it forever. According to the newest designs, you can land an airplane on the top of it and it will be four times longer than the Queen Mary. Which, if you remember the pictures, is a pretty fricking big ship.

According to their residential price list, a 1,200 sf apartment with a view of the water (why you’d live on a ship and NOT want a view of the water is beyond me) is $1,031,000 with a monthly maintenance of $1,882. Now, that might seem like a lot – but considering that could buy you a condo in Harlem, I’m opting for the round-the-world cruise.

Phew! At least I got my housing figured out. Now all I need is millions of dollars.