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Coffee in Cuba Kindle Edition
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As for international travel, all I can boast of is a visit to the Canadian side of Niagara Falls when I was a five-year old boy and a chartered day trip over the border to Tijuana a few years ago. (I did spend a few days travelling through Texas, but it's still open for discussion whether the Lone Star State counts as a foreign nation.)
Nevertheless, I simply love good travel writing, if for no other reason than to tease myself about all the fine sights I'm not standing in line to see and all the interesting locals I'm not handing my credit card to. Which is why I was delighted to read Robert Graham's accounts of his many experiences travelling the world. Though I envy his quieter moments sipping wine or coffee at a quaint local café, surrounded by rich history or gorgeous scenery, it's his often hilarious descriptions of the many downsides to travel - the disappointments, confusions, and discomforts that most tourists conveniently leave out of their post-travel gloating - that left me with the satisfying feeling that I'm not missing anything, after all. Or, as Graham himself puts it in his foreword, "Quite often I've found it more of a disruption than I wanted but since I have very rarely been forced to go anywhere I have only myself to blame."
But the reader "Coffee in Cuba" will hardly find anything to blame in Graham's witty accounts of travelling the world - like his tour through Russia in its bad old Soviet days, where a hotel light switches turn on bath faucets and the food is neither recognizable by sight or discernible by taste; or of getting lost in Rome and discovering a warm, inviting restaurant that seemed to materialize out of thin air like magic, only to disappear and never be found again; or of Necromanteio, the Greek town fabled to be the entrance way to the land of the dead, where the ancients came to attempt to communicate with their departed loved-ones ("Even then they had the strange view, still prevalent, that their late auntie whose advice they regularly ignored in life was suddenly worth listening to just because she's dead"). It's observations like the last one that make Graham a pleasure to read, regardless of which exotic locale he's currently lost in.
Whether you are well-traveled like Graham, or unwell-traveled like me, there is much to enjoy in this well-written and clever collection of travel tales.