Today we’re going to do something a little different. It’s time for you to see Somerville, Massachusetts — TwT style. The approach: a “photo walk.” The theme: “doors.” The partner in crime: my awesome, crafty friend Molly. Allow me to explain.
Molly is the mastermind behind this project. Luckily she thought of me to help her do it! Of course, as soon as my physics exam was behind me, I was all over it. Inspired by a blog (and Molly’s upcoming trip to Kenya and Tanzania — “jealous” does not begin to describe how I feel…), we decided to do a “photo walk” in Somerville. This basically consisted of us walking around, taking photos of anything that caught our eye in an area that doesn’t get many “photographers.” We looked a little creepy and stalker-ish, but I think Somerville appreciated the love. As we snapped photos of the ‘hood, we kept to Molly’s predetermined theme: doors.
Tavel and Molly, Somerville “Photo Walk.” Theme: Doors. Photo by Tavel.
Here is a collection of our photographs. If you have a favorite, feel free to give it some love as a comment. In other words, if you have what I call a “Doorgasm,” do share it (hehehehe… OK, this term accidentally flew out of my mouth when I saw an awesome door today and claimed to have a “doorgasm” in front of Molly. I almost called this post “Doorgasm,” in fact, but was worried what Google searches might bring me…).
I know, blah blah blah, you just want to see the photos. So… here they are. Hopefully they give you some sense of the ‘hood. As always, feel free to contribute! If you have taken a photo of an awesome door in some far off land and you want to share the image, feel free to do so by attaching a link as a comment.
As I wake up for yet another physics-filled day, I can’t help but fantasize about making a break for it, and running/flying/getting away from all the incredibly hard work… The easy route is always tempting, but it’s never as thrilling (right… RIGHT?! Now is when you convince me this is true…). My creative spirit feels a little like a caged bird, or a plant that flowers in summer but has to be kept in the basement this year. My brain is mush, I’m exhausted, and I’m just about to hit the halfway point in the most intense course I’ve ever taken (and I complained last year? HA!).
View. Sint Maarten. Netherlands Antilles.
But don’t worry! I’m used to dealing with this urge to escape every now and then. It’s in my blood. While I must be patient, I’m so looking forward to getting my time back to play with as I wish. (Only 4 weeks to go!) But just because I’m stuck in physics molasses (don’t get me started on drag forces…), that doesn’t mean my mind has to stay completely still. That’s the thing about wanderlust…
Horse statue. Rome, Italy.
A few years ago, we put together what has now become a pretty out-dated list of “Ultimate Travel Songs.” So, as a pleasant distraction for me and a fun opportunity for you, it is time to refresh this list with new music! I will now request that you — once again — provide me with a list of your CURRENT favorite travel songs. Again, this is not about judging people’s musical sensibilities; it is escapism through sound, wanderlust through music, a chance to get that excited little flutter in your heart that you (I?) get when you realize you’re headed somewhere foreign, and it feels like anything is possible. It’s that feeling on an airplane, when you take out your headphones because the captain announces you’re about to make the descent — the long trip somewhere is over, and you’re almost there. It’s that energy you get when you’re in a car with friends about to pull up to your first beach vacation of the summer and music is blasting through the speakers. It’s that stream of steady sound that accompanies you as you walk to work everyday, contemplating your next vacation, your love life, your hopes and dreams…
Prayers outside a shrine. Tokyo, Japan.
OK ok, you get the idea. Now don’t be shy!
Lantern in Sultan’s bathroom. Topkapi Palace. Istanbul, Turkey.
Please leave, as a comment, a list of 1 to 5 songs (with title and artist) that form the soundtrack for some sort of getaway — whether it is a getaway in your mind while you sit for another day in your sub-zero office chair wondering how to get out, an actual playlist you would play on your way to a perfect beach weekend, or a song that you listen to during a long flight to that new country you’ve been anticipating for years…
Guard outside Topkapi Palace. Istanbul, Turkey.
Once I have a decent list, I will add it to my “Music” tab with YouTube videos for every song. If you don’t do this for yourself, do it for me! I need new music, I need to daydream, and I need TwT to take me away from science, at least for a little while…
Travels with Tavel started here (July 7, 2009) — hopeful, young, maybe hurting a little, but curious about the world, about life, about people — and full of wanderlust. The first year, it took us to the salt flats of Jujuy along the Argentina-Bolivia border, onto the back of a motorcycle in Cabarete in the Dominican Republic, all the way — unexpectedly — to Quito, Ecuador (“One Year of TwT” post). The journey continued up volcanoes, down beneath the shark-filled seas of the Galapagos Islands, through cloud forests, and eventually to the most unexpected destination of all: school.
Galapagos View. Ecuador.
After “Two Years of TwT,” I found myself the farthest away yet from the person I thought I was becoming (a constantly roaming, adventurous travel writer). A year ago, I ended up back at square one, knocking down the tower of blocks I had been stacking for one life I wanted, only to begin with the first measly block of another life I wanted, too. Building that first tower took more out of me than I ever expected. I felt like I had lived 7 lives in those first six years after graduating — seven unforgettable, sexy, awesome lives! Then, just over a year ago, I decided to stop ignoring the wanderlust I felt for my own career-goals, put the travel-lust aside, and focus on what I really wanted in my life, my long-term dreams — the kind that don’t fizzle in your mouth like Pop Rocks only to disappear after a fleeting burst of excitement.
Quiet Sea. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
So, here I am now — taking an intensive 7-week physics course at Harvard Extension School. What a wild fucking ride these last four years have been! Never a dull moment, I can say that much.
Town of Mindo, Ecuador.
I know TwT doesn’t have the travel adventures of TwT days gone by, and part of me wonders how I’ve made it this long without a dip into my old world (a last-minute trip to Belgium, a catamaran ride in Mexico, a xurro amb chocolat at 7am after a night full of dancing and new people at a Barcelona club…). But what I’ve learned is that all of that is still in me — forever. All of that is me. The experiences I’ve had, both soul-searching around the globe and from my own chair in my constantly changing bedrooms (I think I’ve moved at least once every year since college — OY), have taken me a thousand places I’ve always wanted to go. And somehow, for some reason, you have stuck with me through it all. That makes me really happy. Like, for real.
Stroll with a gaucho after a ride together in Dolores, Argentina.
The people I’ve met throughout all of these experiences, whether through commiserating in pre-med classes at NYU (shoutout to my favorite NYU postbaccs, you know who you are), randomly living together in Ecuador (shoutout to the PPP), or meeting by chance because life just happened to criss-cross our lives (many of you!), have turned every experience — both local and international — into one that has been completely and utterly worth it. (Uh-oh, I’m being cheesy again…)
Iguanas. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador.
TwT hasn’t been about counting countries, bragging about awesome adventures, complaining about not-so-awesome ones, and me me me. It’s about all of us sharing the unpredictable 20-something experience. It’s about where life takes us, where life has taken me (I guess), but really, it’s the story that unfolds around the “where am I” that has been the most exciting part of this “travel” adventure I’m on.
Pre-hike walk through the paramo. Papallacta, Ecuador.
The story, and the journey, continues from Somerville, MA — probably the absolute last place that I would have predicted I’d be three years ago when I wrote my first TwT post on a whim. But here I am, working my ass off (um — the rumors are true: physics is hard), surrounded by brand new friends who I think will be around for a long time, and some of the ones who preceded the TwT days by years and even decades. And here (some of) you are too — with me, three years later, along for the ride, and on your own wild adventures alongside me.
Birds in Flight. Galapagos, Ecuador.
I hope you join me in wishing TwT a happy third birthday! (It’s growing up so fast…) Thank you for 3 years, 147 posts, 750 comments, over 30,000 hits, and innumerable life-changing sometimes dangerous, usually exciting, often fun, and always valuable adventures! A special thank you to the friends and family members who have gotten me through them all.
Just for fun, feel free to let me know which has been your favorite TwT post so far. To wrap things up, here is a song by a good friend’s band, Arms and Sleepers. Cheers!
Rachel Tavel, DPT, CSCS, is a published travel writer turned Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT). She earned her BA in Spanish and Archaeology from Bowdoin College and her DPT from NYU.
After Bowdoin, Tavel interned at American Express Publishing, where she worked with Travel + Leisure, Food & Wine, Executive Travel, Departures, and Centurion magazines.
In 2007, she co-authored the Frommer's guidebook, "MTV Best of Mexico" (Wiley Publishing, 2007), for which she wrote the Acapulco, Ixtapa, Zihuatanejo, and Taxco chapters.
From late 2006 to early 2010, Tavel served as the editor of an independent school's annual magazine. In addition, she worked as an editor and writer for the VIVA Travel Guides to Argentina, Quito and Guatemala. Her photography has been published in Everywhere magazine and the VIVA Guides to Quito and Argentina.
After a six-month stint working as a staff writer for VIVA Travel Guides in Quito, Ecuador, Tavel returned to the US to fulfill the 10 pre-med pre-requisites (at NYU and Harvard Extension School) to apply to Doctor of Physical Therapy programs.
In 2013, Tavel was admitted to NYU's Doctor of Physical Therapy program. She graduated in 2016. While there, Tavel became a Certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) and earned her certification in basic mat Pilates.
In addition to working as a physical therapist, Tavel contributes to various blogs about health/fitness/wellness, including the Huffington Post and Bustle.com. [See "Tavel Links" for more information.]
Last but not least, Tavel is writing a travel memoir about her adventures as a twenty-something career-changer... Stay tuned!
In the World:
Argentina, Austria, Barbados, Belgium, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Ecuador, France, Italy, Jamaica, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, Nevis, Portugal, Spain, St. Kitt's, St. Maarten, Turkey, United Kingdom, USA, Vatican City.
In the US:
Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Maine, Massachusetts, Mississippi, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina,Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, West Virginia.