Rochester resident Dr. Richard DeRemee has made 77 foreign trips in his lifetime and racked up 600,000 miles of air travel crisscrossing the globe.
DeRemee loves to travel — for the history, the food, the culture and the self-enlightenment. There is nothing like it.
Many of the trips were made for professional reasons during a 34-year career as a Mayo Clinic medical pulmonologist, but others were done for the sheer delight and fun of going places.
His book, "Once upon a Jet Plane," is both a memoir of those seven-decades of travel as well as a travelogue that offers suggestions to travelers: What to see? Where to eat? Where are the most amazing sights?
We asked DeRemee, 85, about his book, which was published by ArtPacks.
Why did you feel inspired to write this book?
I had these cabinets full of my records from my trips and I didn’t want them to be completely forgotten. Why not write a book about all my trips?
What places did you enjoy the most?
Germany was my first overseas trip, in 1954, when i studied there. I really fell in love with the German culture. Italy is the next one. I have returned many times.
Do you think traveling is essential for personal development?
Oh, my goodness, I think it’s the most important. It stimulates interest and intellectual curiosity, besides the experiences of seeing beauty and eating good food and drinking good beer.
Do you have any tips to share with others as a practiced traveler?
I have developed a slogan, which condenses the most elements of traveling: Passport, money, tickets and time. If you check all those boxes, you will have a successful travel experience.
If a person doesn’t travel, what are they missing out on?
First of all, it develops self-reliance, particularly if you travel by yourself.
If you had enough money for one trip, where would you go?
That’s a really tough question. I think almost any place that you have some interest in and a particular motivation to visit. But to get out of your own culture and circumstances is the most important, because you become aware that the world isn’t the place you came from.
I think you develop a sense that people are basically the same, with different characteristics of their culture.
Is there a place you wouldn’t want to go?
That’s really tough, because every place I’ve been has been fascinating to me. I guess the Balkans, the former Yugoslavia, was the least interesting to me. It was in the early 1990s and we were there at the outbreak of the civil war. There was a lot of unrest, and circumstances made it not very appealing.
Where did you find the best food?
I can recommend a restaurant in Venice. We’re returned so many times we’re almost on a personal basis with the waiters there. Taverna San Trovaso. It’s rather an obscure restaurant, but it has gained over the years a very good reputation.
Also the Hofbrau Haus in Germany. It’s the most famous beer tavern in the world. And it has a fantastic history. Adolph Hitler made his early speeches there, so it rings with history. And it has the best beer and the best ordinary German food that you can imagine.
What are the memories that stand out through all your years of travel?
It was 1954. That was nine years after World War II. We entered Berlin. To see Berlin in utter rubble. That kind of lasts with you. You could trace the pattern the allied bombers took by the rows of rubble. It was almost unimaginable.