I have lived fifty-seven years on the west coast of the United States.
When I tell people the well-known cities in this country I have never seen–cities that people travel from other countries to visit–I do it with some trepidation and embarrassment as if I might be considered somehow inadequate.
The fact is that once I got a passport and got a taste of the exotic nature that foreign travel often entails, I have spent more time in Europe, Mexico, and even Indonesia, than I have over on the far right side of a map of the U.S.
And while I have every intent to see those iconic American cities–you know the ones–I can’t say I have any regrets, so far.
One place abroad I have never visited is Great Britain. This has not been due to lack of interest.
I have relatives in Wales, which I have been negligent in visiting, although many of them manage an annual winter trek to Colorado for skiing. (Yes, I have been to the Rockies.)
And I am overdue a pilgrimage to Scotland where my now-deceased mother spent a decade between escaping likely death in Nazi Germany (which was the ultimate fate of most of my mother’s family) and her eventual home in the San Francisco Bay Area, where she met my dad and little me was born.
No, the holdup as of late has not been due to lack of interest or intent.
I guess I am just too damn cheap with an exchange rate that gets me 50 cents (of value) for a dollar bill.
But get there I will.
With my affinity for microbrewery beers and my longstanding travel interest in visiting as many local purveyors as possible, wherever I go, I lust for the day to go pub crawling in England and visit small town pubs across the Irish landscape.
So, it was with great alarm the other day I read a recent Newsweek Magazine article that reported on the decreasing numbers of what has been described as something “central to the cultural and social life of the nation,” that being the neighborhood pubs of Great Britain.
Apparently five pubs go out of business every day.
Whoa, tell me it isn’t true.
Establishments such as the Museum Tavern has hosted such notables as Karl Marx and Arthur Conan Doyle and have been part of the “deep roots in the British psyche” providing “both sanctuary and meeting place.”
The trend of declining public houses, as the pubs are often called, have been blamed on a wide range of factors: from increasing prices for a pint; to the poor economy; to smoking bans; to the availability of cars to drive somewhere else for non-drinking pursuits (ed. note: not sure what non-drinking recreational activities could take the place of a nice mug of Guinness); and even to “takeaway pizzas…and a DVD.”
Even Prince Charles has become involved in this time of national crisis, where more than half of Britain’s villages have gone dry. The Prince is a sponsor in a nationwide campaign to let everyone know that the “Pub Is The Hub.”
Certainly a royal calling for a member of the royal family.
As the story concluded,
“Pubs provide a setting for some of life’s indispensables, things like comradeship and the chance to study the foibles of one’s fellow humans. Ask Karl Marx–or Sherlock Holmes.”
While I certainly encourage Brits to please do their part to keep these national treasures in business until I can get over there and carry my share of the burden, if any of them start talking to Karl Marx or Sherlock Holmes, it might be time to call it a night.
And once again I seem to have found a connection between travel, travel writing, and recreational alcohol consumption. (Or would this be professional alcohol consumption?)