Tuesday, March 2, 2010

76-Second Travel Show: "What Does Travel Teach?"

Episode #024
F E A T U R I N G * 4 5 * B O N U S * S E C O N D S

The New York Times Travel Show attracts three types of people: crusty travel vets looking for contacts, casual travelers (some keen for group tour deals) and travelers pulling rolling suitcases to fill with freebies.

In two full days, I met dozens of vendors. I posed at for a Zapata-moustache pic at the Mexico section, where I also grabbed a pink drawstring bag. The three grumpy women at Russia's Intourist Agency set out 'Trans-Siberian' tours, but shrugged in silence when I mentioned I had (co-)written a guidebook to the train ride. (Russia, please regroup on effective ways to attract people to your lovely country.)

Enjoyed many panels too. New Yorker writer Susan Orlean, in a panel of travel writers MC'ed by David Farley, confessed to not being a travel writer, and that she believed in travel 'without preparation.' Sree Sreenivasan, of Columbia University, suggested Facebook's motto is 'if it's not broken, we'll break it.'

That panel, on social media in the tourist industry, ended with a slide show on Germany, where I learned that Germany has 16 federal states but that its list of musical geniuses included Bach and Brahms, but NOT Klaus Meine of the Scorpions!

Every day has its moment -- unless you stay in and write bad poems. Mine came Friday when I lost my favorite pen, a multi-ink-jet dealie that I left by the coffee. After an hour of re-padding my empty pockets, I walked back to the scene and found an employee, Nina. 'Um, I lost a pen -- do you know if anyone saw it?' Her eyes lit up, and she pulled it out (of her sock actually -- Javits Center uniforms have no pockets, I guess). 'You mean this?'

Travel is all about little connections and kindnesses made when you least expect, and if you're lucky, most want them.

Thank you Nina. Thank you Travel.


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