Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Travel - Choosing a Destination

We were concluding an eleven day horse trip in the Bob Marshall Wilderness, Montana, under the leadership of Jack Hooker. Monty was telling Karen, Jacks wife, that she hoped we would come back again. Karen said that people like us do not come back, but move on to see other things. She understood us well. We have moved on to other places.

The patterns of our travel have been to go in ever widening circles. It is just as well to visit the closer destinations before wandering off too far. We recently discovered that we had overlooked one of the most interesting places in Alabama - Tuskegee. I bet that most of you have not been there either. It is one of the most interesting campuses in America. The campus is dominated by structures made by the students themselves, which produces and impressive but simple landscape. Its chapel designed by Paul Rudolph, John A. Welch and Louis Frey is probably the finest contemporary building in Alabama and contains the only nationally regarded stain glass window in the state. Booker T. Washington’s home, the Museum with fascinating movies of the lives of Washington and George Washington Carver, and the airport where the Tuskegee airman were trained could all deserve at least a star or two by Michelin Guide standards. Why go to a village in Italy, if you have not seen Tuskegee?

There is as much to see in this country as any where in the world. Some of my favorites are New York, Williamsburg, Glacier National Park, and Chicago, and anywhere you can find Frank Lloyd Wright architecture.

The same principal of ever widening circles applies to foreign travel. There is no reason to seek out the exotic until after you have seen the well traveled spots abroad including, Alaska and a Hawaii, which are considered foreign lands by The Traveler’s Century Club.

There is no reason to go to remote corners of the unusual places until you have visited the obvious ones. I still believe that the best destinations are the great cities of Europe - London, Paris, Rome (by way of Venice and Florence), Madrid, Athens, Berlin. Moreover all of those cities surround a treasure trove of other great destinations. These cities are popular spots for a reason. They are unusually rich in culture and our own heritage. Once you have been exposed to our own country and Europe, it is time to venture further and explore the many places throughout the world that are worthy of your time and treasure.

The following is a list of some of my favorites. In Africa the Serengeti, Lake Victoria, Capetown, and many other superb Safari locations dominate the south while Egypt and Morocco are most prominent in the North. Asia includes China, India, Japan, and all of Southeast Asia. My favorites in South America are Peru, Iguazu Falls, Chile and Argentina. In Eastern Europe there are Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia, Poland, Czech Republic and Hungary. Travel in the Middle East has been inhibited by the conflagrations there, but Israel is a must. Leaders among the remaining parts of the world are Australia, New Zealand, Antarctica, and Spitsbergen, Norway.

There are many places we have not visited that probably should be on the list, including the Philippines, Mongolia, Bhutan, Korea, Nepal and the Galapagos Islands. Maybe we can make a dent in that list before it gets even longer.

Meanwhile, let me suggest a very special trip for you. In next year between May and September, the tiny town of Oberammergau, Germany will perform its marvelous Passion Play, for the forty first time. This is a world class event that comes along once a decade and should be seen during a lifetime. The play fills out one day leaving time to Switzerland or Austria nearby, to Italy in the south, Berlin in the east or maybe Paris in the west. You will not regret it.

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