Where will you travel in 2011? It’s a juicy thought that inspires endless midwinter reverie, and never more so than during a week of waist-high snow drifts and slushy intersections. At times like these, I dream about places where holiday lights coil around palm trees.
I was in Barcelona, dropping by a friend’s shared apartment, when it started up. “I’ve been so busy here, I haven’t even had time to go shopping!” I laughed, and was met with this teasing response from my friend’s housemate — a Bulgarian cellist I barely knew. “No shopping? Why, for you, that must be as unthinkable as not building settlements would be for an Israeli!”
Wintertime in Florida? Why, that’s so old school. Haven’t you heard that the hottest trend is off-season travel?
Make that the coldest trend. As yesterday’s summer resorts have morphed into year-round weekend destinations, beach towns from Cape Cod to Hilton Head have quietly developed a 12-month-long scene. Increasingly, people are willing to sacrifice an August dip in the ocean for a soulful, solitary beach in February — and a chance to spot wildlife that isn’t toting a keg.
Years ago, I found myself studying German at the Berlitz school in Rockefeller Center. My classmates were a fascinating lot: international business people, Austrian Airline workers, diplomats and their significant others, all learning German for love or money.
They were also a well-traveled lot, so one day when the teacher was late, the conversation fell to favorite travel destinations. Would the consensus be Paris, Italy, Hawaii? Not even close: to a one, they all replied, “Cape Town, South Africa.”
A scantily clothed man sprints along the shore, fire blazing from the stick in his hand. As he pauses to light each of dozens of torches, the sound of ukuleles wafts from a hotel patio, and the flickering fires cast a shimmering golden glow across the lapping waves.