Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Travel Traditions

One of my favorite things about traveling is when I get a recommendation from a friend or family member on something to see or somewhere to eat. Of course its fun to strike out on your own and discover things for yourself, but it’s also the neatest feeling to travel in someone else’s footsteps and continue a tradition in a foreign place.

For instance, two of my best friends studied in Paris one summer as part of a study-abroad program. While they were there, they fell in love with a restaurant called The Grizzli Café, especially charmed by its chocolate cake. When my parents and I visited Paris the next winter, my friends insisted that we eat there, so along with the Mona Lisa and Versailles gardens, the Grizzli Café and it's famous chocolate cake was added to our must see list.

Of course, we loved it, and when my parents visited France the next summer with friends, they returned to the cafe. Another friend of mine visited Paris this summer and posted Facebook pictures of herself outside the restaurant, 7 years after our other friends made the original discovery. I love that two college girls stumbling into a Parisian restaurant have created a tradition among so many.

Another example is Tommy Toys, a fancy Chinese restaurant in San Francisco. My parents found the eatery on a trip 11 years ago and have raved about it ever since. I mentioned previously that my brother and his wife took a trip to San Fran 2 weeks before Jonathan and me. Both of us knew that reservations to Tommy Toys would be included on our respective itineraries. Even though none of us were blown away by the food (apparently Tommy died a few years back and the restaurant has since changed management) it was still sentimental to get to share a travel experience with my parents even without them being there.

On a side note: If you are in San Fran, I do encourage you to visit Tommy Toys. You have to understand that my parents have seriously raved about this place for 11 years so our expectations were set unreachably high. Also, in general, I’m not a huge fan of Chinese food. The food was still above average, and the atmosphere and service were superb. There were a ton of locals eating there and I overheard more than 1 conversation where patrons remarked that it was their favorite San Francisco restaurant. It’s a unique experience with elaborate 7 course meals. You should definitely at least try it, even if you don’t go back.

Perhaps my favorite example of passing along travel traditions isn’t food related at all. While my parents lived in Scotland, they offered to fly each of my family members over for a visit. Since it was too hard to organize a time for everyone to go, we ended up taking 4 separate trips among us. My sister’s brood went first, followed by my grandparents and Aunt. Then it was time for me and Jonathan’s trip and lastly, my brother and his wife got to visit. Our itineraries all differed slightly so that our tour guides (my parents) didn’t get stuck seeing all the same attractions over and over. But there was one place that we all wanted to see, and it was all inspired by this photo of my nephew at Loch Ness.

We all made the trek to Inverness to take a picture with Nessie and stick our toes in the legendary (and freezing) lake. Even though we all experienced it separately, it’s still a fond memory that we share as a family. When your family is so spread out, it’s nice to be able to bond over common experiences, even if you don’t get to experience them at the same time.

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