President Pussy-Grabber and the Romanian Railway Police

Over the last few weeks, two parallel sets of misfortunes have been unfolding: one on a global scale, and of tremendous significance; and one on a personal level, and not important to anyone but me.

The more important narrative has, of course, been that of a short-fingered orange sex criminal being appointed to the office of the most powerful man (and yes, it’s still an office apparently reserved solely for men) in the world. The much less important one involves me leaving a trail of lost and damaged property through Europe, along with a few stray fragments of my heart – let’s start with that one.

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My Severe Discomfort with Talking About Travel

For someone who talks about travel a lot, I sure hate talking about travel. I suppose it’s inevitable that the topic should come up – when I’m traveling for half a year at a stretch, as I am now, the subject tends to dominate my life. It’s a good topic for breaking the ice with locals and fellow travelers, and epic tales of my seat-of-the-pants backpacking adventures can certainly impress timid two-week package tourists.

And yet, I can’t escape the dirty feeling that comes with talking about travel. (And yep – I’m feeling it right now!) Why is that, though?

First of all, I feel like I’m just not as excited about it as I’m supposed to be. I’ve lived the past decade of my life overseas, and have spent a significant chunk of that time traveling. At this point, I can muster about the same amount of enthusiasm for a trip to a new country as I would for a really good cup of coffee – it’s not nothing, because I do love a good cup of coffee, but there’s still something perfunctory about constantly feeding one’s addictions, whether they be to caffeine or to travel.

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America and the Joy of Low Expectations

I write this on a train from Bucharest to Transylvania, on an evening which also happens to be the morning of the 2016 US presidential election. I want to write about the United States, but my topic is not political – although, depending on the outcome of the election, my opinion of America may have shifted significantly by the Transylvanian morning.

I’ve been thinking differently about America since two years ago – which, in spite of all of my traveling, happened to be my first actual visit to the United States. One reason I delayed visiting for so long was because we Canadians – and yes, I now admit to the secret shame of being a Canadian – have been inundated with absurdly negative ideas about our neighbours to the south. “Oh, those Americans are so dumb,” a Canadian might say inbetween slapshots or hacks at the base of an uncommonly thick pine tree. “They’re all religious nutjobs who run around shooting at each other! Not like us – we’re so polite and peaceful, and we have universal health care!”

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