Introduction: A letter to a student on how to travel and enjoy a higher quality of life.
Read below… Life is a travel experience and adventure, only if one dares!
Advice for the wise and you don’t have to do what your ‘crazy-teacher’ did when he was young. I have had a full life, seeing the must beautiful dawn by diving in the waters of Bonaire (N.V.A.) to the magnificent dusk I saw while visiting the Tin Tin Buddha in Hong Kong. Life is short, so do it and taste it all!
When travelling abroad to places like Amsterdam, you can indulge in areas like the Red Light District or do the same in places like Bangkok. However, that’s not the only purpose of travel. Because that gets old and stale rather quickly!
Travel is an education and I’d like to recall the famous writer, Mark Twain. The latter believed that travelling could knock down prejudices and barriers.
Now back to Amsterdam, you don’t have to indulge in the craziness of it all or nightlife. Amsterdam is a very cultural city, with the Anne Frank Museum; this little-Jewish girl was 14 when she died in Auschwitz during the Holocaust. But left her Diary behind for the world to read and this is one reason to visit Amsterdam. Another would be the Van Gogh and Rubens’ museums, great painters that left wonderful works of art for the visitors and locals to enjoy alike. The capital of Holland has great food, even in the areas like the Red Light District. If it makes you uncomfortable to visit at night, go during the day to eat chicken with waffles at a local restaurant. What a great concept! Other than Belgium, in Holland I had the best of mussels, wines, cheeses and chocolates in my life. The brasseries are incredible with beers like Heineken and Amstel. Amsterdam, Netherlands is a city of great tolerance. It has Muslim and Jewish communities and a grand Chinese community, etc.
When travelling to places like South America, you’ll have two countries to choose from, Brazil and Argentina. I first chose Argentina and travelled to its capital, Buenos Aires for a ‘milonga’ or tango festival, here any local will teach you how to dance tango or in neighbourhoods like “Las Bocas”, where locals are ardent admirers of tango and its tango superstar, Carlos Gardel. And by the way, the food is just awesome! In Brazil I landed in Rio de Janeiro and went in February (two weeks) for Carnival and yes, there the locals are also very friendly and will teach you how to dance Samba. A lot of fun, fun, fun!
For Spain [my parents country, hurray!] you have the openness of the city of Barcelona, but also reflecting, you have a grand place of culture. Gaudi architecture is all over the place, La Sagrada Familia Cathedral, walks through La Rampla to see the beautiful creations of all the artists in the city. I also visited Casa Batlo, one of the 10th best chocolate producers in the world and other than that, you have Casa Jamon, great place to eat and enjoy its wines during a two-hour lunch break and siesta period (3:00 to 5:00 p.m.). This is learning and this is culture, and for these reasons I travel!
A capital like Paris [by the way, known as the “City of Lights”] cannot be ignored, and yes, prostitution is legal. Moreover, it can be substantial in culture, and yes this is the city for you! There are places like the Pompidu, Orly, Invalide and Louvre Museums. The Eiffel Tower is best enjoyed [with prior reservations] inside its restaurant to admire the entire City at night. Eat great French foods in places like Café de la Paux, where you can easily meet actors like, Gerard Depardu. Or make a stop at Trocadero, for a moment to have a complete and outstanding view of the Eiffel Tower. And during the evening hours, journey into the Latin Quarter to buy great books or enjoy a tango show. If you want something a little-more naughty, then you have Le Moulin Rouge. Where you can have dinner with champagne and enjoy the dancers for their figures and showing their lovely selves in the nude. But that’s your choice!
In Italy I loved the “Eternal City” of Rome. Yes, I did indulge into the foods like Spaghetti, and honestly, Rome wasn’t my favourite city. It was Venice, oh romantic Venice while riding a Gondola and listening to music like, “O Sole Mio” or Gypsy Kings’, “Volare”. The city is eternally romantic, with couples kissing all over the place or in special distinct areas like, Piazza San Marcos. Plus, it’s the city of Marco Polo, remember, when I taught you—that he lived for 20 years in China.
There were places like Shanghai, a sexy city by the way. For its glorious foods, the Bund, lovely women in their “qipaos” and grand structures like the Pearl Oriental Tower. But buddy, you know China, so let’s go international! Abroad and all over the place, baby!
One city that I would like to go back to is Dubrovnik, Croatia. I haven’t returned since after the war. And I recall the beauty of the city [even when shot-up], turquoise coastline, kebobs with chips (food was wonderful) and friendly people. This City is one of my goals to return.
I fell in love with Athens, Greece. This ancient society, one painted in whitewashed-styled buildings and roofs are in magnificent-intense blue. Coastline is just glorious for fishing and diving! The foods were also magnificent: with feta cheese, pita bread, lamb and leeks. The women were and are absolutely gorgeous. Therefore, you should have a try!
Now, let’s backtrack before I forget to the Middle East, and places like Turkey. My favourite city in Turkey was Istanbul. Great foods like lamb, baklava and Turkish coffee. The gorgeous and intoxicating belly dance shows should be done and admired. Yes, it’s also a city to admire its mosques and minarets. Grandiose creations in engineering and architecture—that make you feel closer to God! And it’s true, I taught you about the Turkish baths and still, you should go for a massage and have a try, you’ll never know!
Another place that I would recommend to you was, Havana, Cuba. I’m really ‘dying’ to return there! Yes, all Chinese are always talking about Mambo, Rumba, Cha-cha and Salsa. Well, these all come from here! From the 900 kilometer Island of Cuba [and only 145 kilometers off the coast of Southern Florida, U.S.A.]: famous for its cigars, beautiful people, Ernest Hemingway’s “Bodeguita del Medio” bar, population that always wants to be happy and likes to dance. This is Cuba for you. And the journey should begin in the naughty dance halls of Club Tropicana. Here is the true home of Salsa, Rumba and Mambo. You’ll just fall in love and into hedonistic pleasures!
Alas, then we come to my beloved country of America. The great U.S.A. and I know my friend Randell Jackson will love this one… Yeah baby, here’s Las Vegas, Nevada. Its founding-unrecognized father and infamous gangster was Bugsy Siegel (hurray, he was also Jewish by the way!). Known as “Sin City” or a city of vices, great place for gambling! But more than the gambling, there is a culture of great food, a wild-rollercoaster ride on top of the Stratosphere building. Las Vegas is not only the city of pleasure, but near and only 90 minutes away is the Grand Canyon, Lake Meade (largest artificial lake created in the world), Hoover Dam and Hopi-Native American Reservation. Aren’t all of these cool, don’t you think?
Yes, there are ‘dirty cities’ (cities full of vices) in the world, and in every place you can find beauty and great culture! Know your country first; then, go all over the world when you have the opportunity. It’s just a matter of being curious for learning and exploring the world. Don’t be ignorant and open your mind! Now, as I’m proud of you, so should your parents. So get ready, educated and start making some money! And like me, you can travel the world and keep in mind, as I stated about these cities in over 1,000 words for you, it took me more than 28 years to travel them across the globe! Yes, there is rubbish in the world, but also beauty, it’s a matter of discovery and finding it. Make the best of your time, education and job by loving them…
“I want to eat my bread, drink my wine and be loved!” – Daniel Otero