Meeting travel writer Stanley Stewart

When I first spotted him, he was getting off his Ducati and entering a pint-sized café in Santa Teresa di Gallura, Sardinia. I couldn't believe my own eyes, that was Stanley Stewart.

I had always wanted to meet him and I wasn't going to waste what was potentially the occasion of a lifetime.

Fortunately the café was really small, which gave me the excuse to sit just beside one of my favourite travel writers. His cappuccino was surrounded by small notebooks and he was skimming through tiny sheets covered with words. They surely were notes from his latest trips aimed at who knows what articles.

I started wondering what he was scribbling and if he was going to write about Sardinia, but couldn't hold back anymore so, defying my reserved nature, I shamelessly burst in his concentration: "You know," I mumbled with as much self-confidence as I managed to muster, "you made me want to go to Egypt." I have since seen some Egypt holiday deals and am looking forward to exploring what it has to offer.

I was relieved to find out he's not as grumpy as Paul Theroux allegedly is. "You should," he replied, "it's a fascinating country, and don't forget to cruise the Nile": his article on Egypt was too recent for him not to understand what I was referring to.

I knew he liked Egypt, otherwise he couldn't have written such a masterpiece. "What about Mongolia?" I kept on asking. Watching him sipping his cappuccino I reckoned he looked like the perfect Italian, but I didn't have a hard time picturing him contemplating one of Mongolia's harsh landscapes and eagle hunting with Kazakh falconers: "Of course!" I thought, "he's an expert traveller, he must look like a local!"

I had the impression he had just read my mind when he told me: "People in Mongolia can be very mysterious and they constantly surprise me, but I found them more approachable than many Parisians (laughs), although Paris is the best epitome of the lovers' corner."

Only a quick exchange of travel opinions before he hopped on his rented Ducati and drove away to find unexplored spots in Sardinian land he would write about in his next article for National Geographic.

A small sheet had fallen off the café counter, so that I had my exclusive foretaste on his upcoming article.

P.S. If you enjoyed my encounter with Stanley Stewart, I'm sorry to disappoint you: it never happened. I don't know if he takes notes of his travels in small notebooks and I have no idea whether he likes cappuccino or he prefers espresso. I only know that I find his writing enriching and inspiring, and this post only reveals my secret hope to meet him one day and have the chance to barrage him with questions.

Pictured? A view of Lake Omodeo in Sardinia, pretty much unexplored spot.


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