Month: February 2018

It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

 “One of the great things about travel is that you find out how many good, kind people there are.” — Edith Wharton

Travel enriches our lives, but it’s the people we meet that makes the difference. It isn’t where we go that makes travel so enriching, it’s the people we meet that bind the places together with the fabric of life, that makes us richer for the opportunity to go beyond our tiny corner of the globe.

It’s The People We Meet That Makes The Difference

My recent trip to Seattle wouldn’t have been as enriching without the people encountered along the way. So many of the wonderful people I’ve met in my travels would have remained strangers if I hadn’t found a way to talk to them. Everyone has a story to tell. Luckily I seem to have a knack for finding a way to start a conversation with just about anyone. And I have formed many new friendships because of it. A comment here or there opens up the world, but also makes the world a much smaller place in the process.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Louis from Brisbane

While having breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory, 700 Pike Street, a young man was ushered into the booth next to me. I could hear his conversation with the waitress, and since I’m fascinated by accents, I was tuned into his – slightly English – with a touch of Aussie. When you are a long way from home, an Aussie accent is the golden thread that links you with the homeland you are missing. When he finished his discussion about the menu, I had to ask, “Where are you from?”.

Where Is Australia?

As usual, an Aussie’s initial response when travelling is simply, ‘Australia’. It’s a big place, and for most Americans, ‘Australia’ is usually enough. Even those less travelled Americans have a reasonable idea of where Australia is, or at least they’ve heard of it. With a little more probing I discovered that my dining-neighbour was actually from Brisbane. Now that’s a little closer to home, given that I live about 100 kilometres south of there, and it is my nearest major city. Louis’ fascinating story of life in a military family resonated with me – having spent many years ‘married’ to the Australian Defence Force, and the travel involved in a military lifestyle. Louis was on his way to Las Vegas, but needed advice on the best means of getting to the Airport.

Giving Directions Like A Local

Feeling more like a Seattle-local than I deserved to, I knew exactly how to get to the Westlake Station and that the Airport Link was probably the easiest, and least expensive way to go. Whether he needed it or not, my travel-buddy and I took Louis under our (collective) wing and walked with him to the station, helped him buy a ticket, and bade him farewell as the train approached. He seemed genuinely appreciative, but I’m sure he would have made it on his own. After all, he seemed like a very capable young Aussie who had followed in his father’s military footsteps.

it’s the people we meet that makes the differ

David Montague entertains travellers at Westlake Station Seattle

Local Talent

Once Louis was safely on his train to the Airport we made our way back to street level, but as luck would have it, a musician had taken up a key position mid-way. And in true travel-friendly style, we stopped to listen. My travel-buddy is a classical music fan and the instrument David was playing was a little unusual – or at least – the way he was playing it seemed unusual. A lengthy conversation ensued, culminating in my travel-buddy being given a CD of David’s unique music. A few extra dollars found their way into David’s instrument case in appreciation, and we continued our journey to higher ground. We had just made another American friend to add to our growing collection of global-friendships.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Olga, from Belarus

Olga From Belarus

And who could forget Olga! When we stepped into the Cheesecake Factory that morning, Olga was our waitress. When we left at the end of the meal, we felt like Olga was an integral part of our Seattle eperience. Olga is the kind of waitress who takes an already good meal and turns it into a great dining experience. It’s no wonder the Cheesecake Factory is such a popular place for Seattleites to dine. Great food and even better service from outstanding staff.

it’s the people we meet that makes the difference

Lyn – a great ambassador for the Cheesecake Factory

And The Beautiful Lyn!

The reason we decided to have breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory was Lyn. We had ventured in for a late-night snack the night before and were greeted, and taken very good care of, by Lyn. Before we’d even studied the menu that late night, Lyn arrived with a basket of absolutely delicious bread samples. It made the task of exploring the menu so much more enjoyable –  there were so many choices. Because we weren’t overly hungry, having eaten much earlier, we apologetically settled on a milkshake. Lyn understood completely and was back in no time with our fantastic shakes.

Lyn Was More Than Just A Waitress…

she beamed happiness! It seemed that making diners feel comfortable was her mission in life. And her mission was accomplished when we promised to come back again. Breakfast at the Cheesecake Factory was sealed for the next day. You can imagine how we felt at seeing Lyn pass by our table the next morning. She remembered us, and stopped to say hello. I may have asked her if she had slept there the night before, but she assured me she had actually made it home for a few hours sleep.

That’s What Makes A Great Dining Experience!

And just to reinforce what a great place the Cheesecake Factory is, Lyn’s two daughters work there as well. That says a lot about a restaurant. The Cheesecake Factory is high on my list of places to eat in Seattle – in fact – anywhere in the US that is lucky enough to have this great chain as a dining option. I can’t guarantee that other places have staff like Lyn and Olga, but I look forward to hearing from travellers who have experienced the Cheesecake Factory in other cities. Does Seattle have the best staff? I’m hoping to test the theory every chance I get in my future travels across the US of A.

And It’s What Adds The ‘Enrichment’ To Travel

It’s about the people: the Louis’, the Olgas, the Lyns and the Davids of this world, who contribute to the richness of our travel experiences. The buildings and landscapes of foreign places will live on through the photos we take, but the people we meet make a lasting impression because of the way they made us feel. Many will become friends that we stay in touch with.  Others will be thought of from time to time, rekindling the same warmth we felt when we met them.

From The Heart – I Thank You!

To all the beautiful people of Seattle, and especially the ones I’ve mentioned in this and other posts – thank you. It might have been just a kind word or gesture, but it created a lasting memory of a city that cares, especially about travellers with strange Aussie accents, like me.

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 3 comments
2018: Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

2018: Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

The Lunar (Chinese) New Year begins today, the 16th February 2018. It isn’t a significant year for me in any way – just the year I’ve chosen to stop all the ‘fluffing around’ and get serious about being more productive. And what better way to start than having at least one goal ready to coincide with the Lunar New Year. After all, it’s about new beginnings, isn’t it? 2018; Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

Just to sort things out a little for you, I’m referring to the era that I call ‘Post-Career’, herein referred to as PC Time. When I looked back on most of my career years, I could identify at least a few achievements that were significant for that particular year. Since I retired in April 2016, there haven’t been too many significant achievements looking back at me from the rearview mirror of end-of-year reflections.

That has to change!

So here I am, with 2018 looming large around me. The urgency is in the fact that we are more than half-way through February and I still haven’t committed any plans to paper – digitally speaking of course (does anyone still use paper?) – until now.

Distractions

Barely a day goes by that isn’t filled with distractions – so I have to devise a plan for how to ignore them. That isn’t as easy as it might sound, since some of those distractions are mighty interesting. One of the significant distractions in my life is the location of my home. My humble abode is nestled amongst twenty-eight acres of natural bushland. As any Aussie knows, bushland means birds. Not the Alfred Hitchcock variety (that’s another story!), but the beautiful kookaburras and magpies that gently sing me awake in the morning and signal the close of day in the evening. If I could just be satisfied with hearing them while I work, it wouldn’t be a problem. The problem stems from the hours spent, camera in hand, waiting for the perfect photo of a kookaburra in flight.

2018; Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

It’s the kookaburra’s fault!

And The Justification For The Distraction?

I’m always intrigued by the ingenious reasons we use to justify the things we do, regardless of whether they are ‘right’ or not. I justify my bird-watching activities by assuring myself that one day, that photo of a kookaburra in flight, will be the perfect addition to something I’m writing. It might be years before that happens, but I’m convinced it will.

2018; Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

Well, I almost got it…

Rule Goal Number One

Schedule Writing Time For The First Waking Hour (Or Two)

That could be a problem before I even begin. In PC Time, there is no set waking hour. Don’t get me wrong, I still rise at an acceptable time, for a retiree. But now I have the option of not rising, if I don’t want to. While the magpies and kookaburras sing me awake most days, there are times when I let their melodic calls sing me back to sleep.

How will Goal Number One be impacted when I roll over and pretend I haven’t heard the day starting?  Will it be lunchtime by the time I’ve finished my hour (or two) of writing?

Does it even matter?

The answers to these questions will depend on what events are vying for my time on any given day in my usually, almost empty, Post-Career diary. While most days roll in and out with nothing more than writing, taking photos, eating and/or socialising, on the agenda, some days are different. Sometimes there’s a 9am meeting scheduled, or an early morning coffee at ReCafeNate with my name on it.

Revised Goal Number 1

Devote One To Two Hours To Writing, Every Day

Perhaps we fail to meet our goals because they are not quite as realistic as they could be. Nothing happens until I’ve had my coffee, so the hour immediately following my opening-eyes experience, has to involve coffee. When I’ve had the coffee, then I can do the writing. And here’s where a bit of creativity could help. I usually brew my Espresso coffee at home. But sometimes I saunter across the road to ReCafeNate for the pampered feeling of having Josh make the coffee for me. If I took my iPad with me, I could make the coffee last an hour while I write. If I’m really getting into the writing, a second cup of coffee would see me through the second hour. And I could check off my exercise for the day as well. While it isn’t a long walk to ReCafeNate, it is uphill.

Write First – Illustrate Later

Theoretically, the first goal of the ‘2018: most productive year ever’, is to focus on the writing. Instead of having thousands – yes, you read that right – thousands of photos that I might (or not) ever use, by getting thousands of words written, then I can focus on the specific photos that I need to highlight the text. Besides, I might even get lucky and put the already thousands of photos I have to good use, before I take any more.

Well, that’s the plan – I just hope I can stick to it.

2018: Will It Be The Most Productive Year Of My Life?

I’ll keep you posted on my progress….

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Posted by Maureen in Travel, 3 comments