Chandler Burr on the ‘Scents of Place’

Travel Blog  •  Michael Yessis  •  12.12.06 | 8:57 AM ET

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We’re believers in the power of the smell to color a journey, whether it comes from a whiff of full-bodied, slightly sweet jet fuel; the legendary stench of durian; or sample-size lotions from some far-off hotel. The Emperor of Scent author Chandler Burr believes, too, and he’s written a fine essay about it in the December issue of Conde Nast Traveler. “The process of travel is imbued with, drowned in, smell,” he writes. “The smell of my first passport, which was that of book (new paper, binding glue) and fresh plastic (the thick photo lamination). The smell of jet fuel and the synthetic carpet of the airport, the lonely nose of concrete-and-Formica of the train station, the scent of seawater and engine oil and metal of the ship. In between check-in and jet lag, there is smell. It tells us where we are. We may shuttle from airport to airport and stay in luxury hotels from Shanghai to Seattle, but local smells still reach us, marking these places as indelibly as light.”



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