'Drink a Cold Beer and Let Somebody Else Figure it Out': 22 of Anthony Bourdain’s Wisest Quotes About Travel

Anthony Bourdain
Photo by Andy Kropa/Invision/AP, File, via Newscred

by Annabel Fenwick Elliott, The Telegraph, June 11, 2018

Anthony Bourdain first rose to fame with his searingly honest memoir about life as a chef, Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, but as his career progressed, it became evident that travel was a passion he held just as dear to his heart as food.

“If I am an advocate for anything, it is to move,” he once said. “As far as you can, as much as you can.”

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The American veteran broadcaster was in France filming the latest in his legendary TV series, Parts Unknown, when he committed suicide in his hotel room on June 8, and while this last season will forever remain unfinished, Bourdain leaves behind him a long catalogue of quotable wit and wisdom on the subject of world exploration.

Here are some of the most memorable things he said about travel over the years, and why we should all be doing more of it.

Getting off the beaten track

“Do we really want to travel in hermetically sealed popemobiles through the rural provinces of France, Mexico and the Far East, eating only in Hard Rock Cafes and McDonalds? ... I know what I want. I want it all. I want to try everything once.”

On the tougher aspects

“Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you. It leaves marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body. You take something with you. Hopefully, you leave something good behind.”

Exploring the unknown

“Travel is about the gorgeous feeling of teetering in the unknown.”

On slumming it

“If you’re 22, physically fit, hungry to learn and be better, I urge you to travel — as far and as widely as possible. Sleep on floors if you have to. Find out how other people live and eat and cook. Learn from them — wherever you go.”

The 50 greatest adventures on Earth 

The only thing he’d order on a plane

“Scotch on the rocks - they can’t f*** that up.”

On switching off

“My brain and body and nervous system, they see a plane ride, a long plane trip, as an opportunity to sleep with nothing coming in, nothing to do. I just go offline the minute I'm on the plane.”

His favourite city

“It's so different than the aesthetic I grew up with, the society and culture I grew up with. I compared it to taking my first acid trip: Nothing was ever the same for me. I just wanted more of it. If I had to agree to live in one country, or even one city, for the rest of my life, never leaving it, I'd pick Tokyo in a second.”

On review sites like TripAdvisor

“I don’t see them as reliable, because you don’t know what people’s priorities are.”

On his childhood dreams

“I wanted kicks - the kind of melodramatic thrills and chills I'd yearned for since childhood, the kind of adventure I'd found as a little boy in the pages of my Tintin comic books. I wanted to see the world - and I wanted the world to be just like the movies.”

Day-drinking

“There's something wonderful about drinking in the afternoon. A not-too-cold pint, absolutely alone at the bar - even in this fake-a** Irish pub.”

How to solve transport conundrums

“When dealing with complex transportation issues, the best thing to do is pull up with a cold beer and let somebody else figure it out.”

The perils of micromanaging

“I learned a long time ago that trying to micromanage the perfect vacation is always a disaster. That leads to terrible times.”

Anthony Bourdain obituary puff 

On happy accidents

“I'm a big believer in winging it. I'm a big believer that you're never going to find perfect city travel experience or the perfect meal without a constant willingness to experience a bad one. Letting the happy accident happen is what a lot of vacation itineraries miss, I think, and I'm always trying to push people to allow those things to happen rather than stick to some rigid itinerary.”

How not to do Paris

“Nothing unexpected or wonderful is likely to happen if you have an itinerary in Paris filled with the Louvre and the Eiffel Tower.”

On indescribable places

“It’s an irritating reality that many places and events defy description. Angkor Wat and Machu Picchu, for instance, seem to demand silence, like a love affair you can never talk about. For a while after, you fumble for words, trying vainly to assemble a private narrative, an explanation, a comfortable way to frame where you’ve been and whats happened. In the end, you’re just happy you were there - with your eyes open - and lived to see it.”

On Cambodia

“Once you’ve been to Cambodia, you’ll never stop wanting to beat Henry Kissinger to death with your bare hands. You will never again be able to open a newspaper and read about that treacherous, prevaricating, murderous scumbag sitting down for a nice chat with Charlie Rose or attending some black-tie affair for a new glossy magazine without choking. Witness what Henry did in Cambodia — the fruits of his genius for statesmanship — and you will never understand why he’s not sitting in the dock at The Hague next to Milošević.”

On Senegal

“Senegal was a surprise. It's unlike any country I've been before. It's a slice of Islam that I think most people haven't seen, with a very different colonial history than a lot of people have seen.”

Being a tourist

“I'm not afraid to look like a big, hairy, smelly, foreign devil in Tokyo, though I do my best not to, I really do.”

On keeping secrets

“Look, I try not to f***places up. There have been times where we deliberately shoot [a neighbourhood bar] in such a way that you'll never find it.”

Europe's 17 best secret islands 

It’s the journey…

“The journey is part of the experience - an expression of the seriousness of one's intent. One doesn't take the A-train to Mecca.”

On choosing fun

“Your body is not a temple, it’s an amusement park. Enjoy the ride.”

 

This article was written by Annabel Fenwick Elliott from The Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to [email protected].

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