Richard Frisbie is a columnist, freelance journalist, professional baker, publisher, bookstore owner and historic preservationist who likes to garden. Many of his articles also appear on Outoftownblog.com, Luxuryweb.com, GoNomad.com and in Ensemble’s Vacations Magazine.
1. What are your top 5 best places to travel?
It has to be: wherever there is great food and wine! But so many destinations meet those criteria that I’ll have to narrow it down for you. Spain — for the food and wine (of course) but also for the great people, culture and climate — has to be my all-time favorite. After that, in no particular order: France, Italy, Portugal, Mexico, Brasil (here spelled the way Brasilians spell it), and Ecuador. Together the combination of culture, people, climate, food, and wine, but in different orders, allow each to vie for my second choice.
2. What is your favorite food?
Pulpo — we say octopus — cooked as they do in Galicia, Spain — boiled, then grilled and drizzled with a red olive oil sauce — Magnificent!
3. What is it that you enjoy the most when you visit a new destination?
First the colors and shapes, then the smells and sounds, and especially the way locals will proudly introduce me to each — I like seeing the newness of the same old things through different eyes.
4. What are your best tips when preparing to travel?
Be well rested. Settle affairs — put a hold on your mail, pay bills, notify your bank & credit card companies, photograph your prescription bottles and list your medications, photocopy your passport, license, and credit cards (front and back). Have copies of these documents with you in different places, and leave one home. (Having a color copy of your passport is the fastest way to get a lost passport replaced.) Check Federal travel advisories and for possible shots you might need. Pack clothes with color combinations and thicknesses that can be layered, include a windbreaker/raincoat, hat, sunscreen, comfortable shoes, and — if checking a bag — be sure to have enough medications, chargers and a change of clothes in your carry-on to get you through the few days your luggage may be lost. Last — get travel insurance. Once you’ve done all that it is easy to relax and enjoy the trip.
5. What are your best practices regarding currency? Do you suggest wearing a money belt?
No money belt for me. I usually exchange enough money for tips and snacks at an ATM in a US airport using a debit card, and when out of the country try to pay for most things with a credit card that has no foreign exchange fees; one that can be easily replaced if lost or stolen. (American Express comes to mind.) I usually carry a slim travel wallet in a deep front pocket. It holds a few bills and a few cards and is barely noticeable.
6. How do you get by with the language barrier?
A smile goes a long way. I have three years of Latin and one of Spanish under my belt. The romance languages are similar enough to figure out many signs, etc, and I have a passing acquaintance with the civilities — please, thank you, bathroom — and enough words to get by ordering wine and food off a menu. But, honestly, with a smile and patience most people will be happy to accommodate you.
7. What countries would you avoid?
Any that professes not to like Americans. But mostly it is the American government that is not liked. American tourists — especially those properly attired and respectful of local customs — are safe most places.
8. What airline do you like the most?
Whoa! Are you trying to get me in trouble here? I have frequent flyer status with most of them, and don’t want to jeopardize any perks they might bring me. I can say that Iberia is a very comfortable airline to fly and Air France has treated me like visiting royalty — really — with lounge privileges, pilot escort onto the plane before anyone else is aboard, wine tastings — that is an amazing airline to fly! But any airline that I don’t have to fly steerage, where I can pick my seat and eat for free, is fine with me.
9. What are your favorite films?
Fame follows New York School of Performing Arts freshmen through graduation. Great talent, excellent editing, loveable kids — such exuberant performances!
A River Runs through It from the autobiographical novel by Norman Maclean. This has beautiful cinematography, gorgeous cast, and a lovely philosophy. This could be on my book list, too.
Best Little Whore House in Texas: Just for the fun of it! How could you go wrong with Burt Reynolds & Dolly Parton? And the poignant song: It’s Gonna Be A Hard Candy Christmas still brings tears to my eyes.
I guess I should add Mame too, just for its Christmas song: We Need A Little Christmas, and, of course, Patrick Dennis.
9. What are your favorite travel books?
In Patagonia by Bruce Chatwin: Anything by him is so beautifully written, but he made me want to be there.
At Play in the Fields of the Lord by Peter Matthiessen: Not a travel book per se, but so evocative of life in the Amazon it made me want to go.
The Catskills – From Wilderness to Woodstock by Alf Evers: He treated my home turf as the stuff of literature.
Venice by Gore Vidal: Simply for the beauty in his words and the pictures.SEE RICHARD’S POSTS HERE