Go Away With ... Nora Kirkpatrick
A childhood trip to London stands out for actress-musician Nora Kirkpatrick, who says it sparked a lifelong love of travel. (Tribune Media Services / April 30, 2013)
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. I love South America and Mexico City. I loved Cuzco, Peru. I spent time there before I hiked Machu Picchu. A city that took me by surprise last year when we were on tour, was the city of Groningen in the Netherlands. We played this amazing festival called Noorderzon that combines theater, arts and music around this beautiful lake in the center of town. It was an incredible city, specifically geared for biking. I could have lived there, and I rarely feel that while traveling.
Q. What was the first trip you took as a child?
A. My parents took my brother and me to London and Portugal when we were young. It was a wonderful experience. I remember going to the Globe Theatre in London and the color of the water in Portugal.
Q. What's the most important thing you've learned from your travels?
A. Traveling makes me much more aware of how special each culture's eccentricities are, and helps me remember to be welcoming to foreigners I may encounter in my hometown. We all have so much in common, despite our wide and wonderful cultural differences.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. Big Bear. It has snow and hot springs.
Q. Where have you traveled to that most reminded you of home?
A. Parts of England are very similar to the United States, and maybe some parts of Sweden or other Nordic countries. Berlin is also a very western city with few parks, and a lot of concrete.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. Asia. I would love to go Japan, Thailand, Cambodia, etc. I usually take a trip alone every winter. I had to miss last year as I was getting my tonsils out, but this year is a go for sure. I am leaning toward Thailand and Cambodia, and perhaps one other place. I'll decide spontaneously when I'm there.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. A 35-mm film camera and way too many dresses. I also bring a lot of books, which is a shame because it makes my suitcase overweight every time.
Q. What would be your dream trip?
A. I'd like to take some of the trains through Japan and see the trees blossoming. So many people have told me about that experience. I'd also like to do some hiking in Vietnam and spend a few weeks trolling through India.
Q. What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A. Lots of wine and, of course, trying the weirdest food I can find in each country. I also try to rent a bike or bring a bike on most of the tours, so I do a fair amount of rolling around when I travel. It's such a better way to see a city than riding in a taxi cab or subway. I feel you get to interact with your surroundings and can actually smell the different parts of the city, which is both nice and not-so-nice at times.
Q. What kind of research do you do before you go away on a trip?
A. Not a lot. I try to find a lot of outdoor activities like waterfalls and hikes, but mostly I just ask locals. They seem to know the more obscure choices. Also, TripAdvisor.com is kind of like the Yelp of travel. A lot of the good hostels are listed there with reviews, as are the more interesting adventures in each city.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. I did get stranded in Nairobi, Kenya for a few days. That was not fun. But the months I spent in Africa are some of my fondest travel/volunteering memories overall. Also, there was one trip to Mexico when I was young when I definitely contracted a case of Montezuma's Revenge; also not a fun experience.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at http://www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow "Go Away With..." on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)