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Anthony Bourdain Speaks

Anthony Bourdain in Rome

By Anthony Bourdain - Parade


“Travel changes you. As you move through this life and this world you change things slightly, you leave marks behind, however small. And in return, life - and travel - leaves marks on you. Most of the time, those marks - on your body or on your heart - are beautiful. Often, though, they hurt.”

Anthony Bourdain, The Nasty Bits: Collected Varietal Cuts, Usable Trim, Scraps, and Bones

The host of the new CNN series Anthony Bourdain Parts Unknown (Sundays) shares his thoughts on going off the beaten track.

1. A great book can get you in the mood.
I like to bring along an atmospheric work of fiction set in the place I’m going. Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is perfect for the Congo, for example; Graham Greene if I’m in Vietnam.

2. Visit the central market.
You get a real picture of everyday life in the place you’re visiting, and you might bump into people who are eager to try out their limited English on you. Good things seem to happen when you wake up early and check out the market.

3. A local food blogger can point you to hidden gems.
There’s always a blogger who’s obsessed, who’s made a life out of painstakingly documenting, say, every food stall in Saigon. It’s generally worthwhile reading and possibly even a person to reach out to.

4. Be willing to make mistakes.
I think a rigid itinerary is frequently disastrous—you’re never going to find the perfect meal, for instance, if you’re not willing to take a chance on maybe having a bad one.

5. Use your time reasonably.
Is it worthwhile waiting on line for three hours at the Eiffel Tower when you could be sitting in a café, sucking up daily life? You should at least ask yourself those questions.