“Your first discovery when you travel is that you do not exist.” I’ve been thinking about these words, from the writer and critic Elizabeth Hardwick, since I read them the other day in New York Times reporter Anthony Shadid’s House of Stone: A Memoir of Home, Family, and a Lost Middle East, his extraordinary account of returning to the town his family came from in what is now Lebanon. Sadly, Shadid died while on assignment in Syria last year, the same year his book was published, and far too early in life. Hardwick, who died at the age of 91 in 2007, might well be surprised to see the speed at which so many of the familiar signposts of life at home are proliferating globally, from Starbucks to luxury fashion and hotel brands to the way people dress and such cultural touch points as music, TV series, and film. These days, to experience the kind of particularity and distinctness that will allow you to leave your world and yourself behind, you have to exert a conscious effort to “step outside your comfort zone.” There’s a far greater chance of succeeding when you venture into a far-flung neighborhood or a remote destination.
This month, we offer a springboard to experiences at home and abroad, starting off with our cover story, “20 Easy Weekend Getaways,” and trips that range from Vancouver to Utah and from Charleston, South Carolina, to North Haven, Maine. We go off the beaten path to the small towns and hidden beaches of “Secret Ibiza” (by Henry Urbach) in the Spanish island’s northern and western precincts, and reveal neighborhood pleasures in “Melbourne by the Minute” (by special correspondent Shane Mitchell). We also take a close look at Amsterdam’s lively food scene (“Dutch Renaissance,” by sometime resident and contributing editor Anya von Bremzen); and, in our “Decoder: Mexico City” (by T+L’s director of editorial product development, Peter J. Frank), we present the latest attractions of this fast-paced Latin American center. Then there’s Bruno Maddox’s singular report on his time as a not-so-secret bartender “embed” on the Celebrity Reflection (“I Was a Cruise Ship Bartender”), where he mastered many of the finer points of cocktail making and serving, if not the many-tiered martini tower.
Finally, our Strategies section spotlights a kind of travel that for many people, including the editor of this magazine, offers one sure way to get outside yourself (“T+L’s Ultimate Guide to Trekking, Hiking, and Walking”). As the unfamiliar becomes increasingly rare, moving slowly through a destination and taking it all in can be the key to unlocking the authentic and unique.
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