Anthony Bourdain always reminded me of our own modern-day Steinbeck or Hemingway. He had that similar uncanny, uncomplicated ability to take us along, seeing at the same time the world’s grit and pain, and moments of pure joy. It was a familiarity we’ve all experienced from traveling, both to new and familiar places.
His ability, through his story telling, to share a life that most of us will never experience, was thrilling and enriching at same time.
My favorite episodes were ones when he was almost gushing in his excitement to share his favorite foods and revisit his favorite places for the rest of us.
Having noodles and beer with the President in a “hole in the wall” restaurant in Vietnam seemed as natural as most of us sharing our favorite local diner with an out-of-town friend. I’m certain it wasn’t either Barak or Tony’s finest meal, but it was at its essence what travel has become for me now. As my daughter says, I’m on the dark side of nearly seventy.
Yes, I still have a large bucket list of places to go (Cabo and Maui were checked off this year), but as I finish this journey, I find that while I still enjoy both the thrill of taking off with an empty suitcase and no destination, or often the reverse, joyful months researching every city and planning every detail of next trip to ports unknown.
My most comforting relaxing vacations are returning to my favorite places again and again. Much as I choose to live on the water (not block away or close), I’ve learned it’s worth sacrifices to surround yourself with what you love, every moment of every day, as often as you can.
It’s not surprising that, like Bourdain, I always love returning and sharing my favorite familiar places (for me on the ocean), when I can truly unwind.
We are building a very fun house on an isolated beach in Taupo Bay (at top of North Island) in New Zealand. It’s become our favorite comforting place. We can’t stay away long and not start yearning to get back, to discover for us, nearby hidden beaches, new cafes, new experiences and adventures, all just around the corner from our secret bay, halfway around the world.
Yet, it’s the familiar that pulls us. If it’s Sunday, it’s market day in Kerikeri (50 beautiful miles, worth driving) to see old friends, hear the music, and get up early to grab pastries before they’re gone at our favorite bakery. Couple times week we drive fifteen miles the other way, to little fishing village (Mangonui) for breakfast and coffee at a neighborhood cafe and then before heading home, a quick stop at an unassuming house, where a hardworking couple run a fish market out their back door. (He fishes every day and they sell enough to live well and do what they want. In return, we get tremendous pleasure from fresh caught fish and for supporting their life style.) We than rush home before dark to get in our second daily swim in the warm 75-degree water, just us and our waves.
We are so, so pleased that the Inn at Avila Beach has become that familiar place for so many repeat guests. We all have bucket lists of places yet to see. But it’s comforting to come back year after year and experience the familiar.
We’ve owned the Inn for now over twenty years and much of our staff have been a part of that journey for most of those years. Our now adult children grew up in the shadow of the Inn, it’s theirs and many of your happy place.
We recently were asked by a “wannabe buyer“ of the Inn on what’s the secret of Inn’s success? Obviously, its oceanfront location plays a big part. But to be truly a success, an Inn needs to have a soul. “
Ours is a rather simple philosophy: “if we give you hug, you’ll come back. If we give you two hugs, you’ll tell your friends and family.”
Business, life, and travel choices don’t have to be harder or more complicated than that.
Rest in Peace Anthony—and thank you for sharing your favorite places with us.