Recently, a friend asked me in which of the countries I've visited I felt most at home. I was a bit stumped by the question. It's not that I couldn't answer it. If pushed to answer I think it would be the Netherlands. But my first thought was that the question was not one I would ever ask myself because the reason I travel is to feel different, rather than to feel at home. Of course there are limits to the extent I want to explore differences. I don't like physical challenges or even extreme physical discomfort, so I'm not going to canoe down the Amazon or climb mountains in the Himalayas. What I like to explore is why things are the way they are in other countries; which traditions, values and 'taken for granteds' make the places I visit different from my life here in Australia.
I always seem to have itchy feet. There's always somewhere I particularly want to go, but when an opportunity for travel presents itself, I'd go almost anywhere if I could afford it. I used to travel quite a bit for work, organising international student exchange programs. This took me to many places that were large enough to have a university, but weren't on any tourist itinerary. I learned that most places have something of interest and, if nothing else, they enrich your impressions and knowledge of the diversity that exists in any country.
So, I'm planning my next trip. My daughter will be working in Mexico for a month in November this year, so I will join her to help with caring for my grand-daughter. We'll visit places my daughter needs to spend time - Mexico City, Merida, Chetumal, but we'll probably have a week's holiday within the month and are still discussing where we might spend it.
In the spirit of making the most of chance travel opportunities I'm also planning on this trip to partially fulfill one of my long-held travel ambitions - to travel across the USA. I'd really like to drive across the US, or rather, be driven across the US because I hate driving. I think that's not going to happen, so the next best thing is to go across the US by train. And in this particular case, I can't even go right across the US, because the best, most affordable connections between Australia and Mexico go via Dallas/Fort Worth. But I've applied the travel principle of something is better than nothing and so I'm travelling from Los Angeles to Dallas by train, with a stop in San Antonio, Texas. Amtrak has so far proven to be extremely efficient, with great customer service, and amazingly cheap - even with my own 'roomette'(ugh! what an ugly word) for the two nights between LA and San Antonio.
Readers - I'm looking for travel advice. I arrive in LA at the end of October and then I'll have two days in LA, three in San Antonio, and two in Dallas. What part of LA should I stay in? (remember I won't have a car). What should I see on my stops? I've been to both LA and San Antonio before, but I'm sure there are lots of interesting things I've not seen or done. Dallas is unknown territory. Are there yarn shops I should visit anywhere?
Any advice or suggestions are welcome. Gratefully received, even.