Here's a basic assumption we'd all love to have: we have more airline miles than we can use and more hotel points of any sort that we can ever use. Oh, such a dilemma!
1) Where would you go again, anywhere in the US or the wider world, 1 or 2 times for sure because you felt there were unfinished things you wanted to experience there?
2) Where would you most like to go maybe once a year if you still had those miles and points coming in?
My answer to
1) is Egypt. I am following events (even a nonsocial creature like me is using twitter to keep current on events in Egypt. Things are looking up because of a judicial decision about presidential candidates allowed to run, though tomorrow and the next month will tell the story.) But I desperately want to finish the story of Egypt I started but did not end. (I sound like Barry Manilow's Weekend in New England). I want more time in Luxor at the Valley of the Kings and a Nile cruise down to Aswan and Abu Simbel.
Second choice: Greek islands, especially Crete, Santorini, Delos, and Mykonos. Even though I took that three day very cheap cruise of the islands last summer, it was too short and I had to prioritize, so I never even got off the ship at Mykonos. Frankly, I was more interested in the ancient sacred island of Delos, which is next to Mykonos, but I could not have visited during the short stop.
2) has changed constantly for me (and will undoubtedly do so again) as I grow older, and my answer now is not one I would have given even 2 years ago and probably won't give two years from now. It's Venice (Italy, definitely NOT California).
Since I've lived in Paris a good part of my 34 years plus life, and been in almost all of France for research, it oddly no longer pulls me as much, however much I love the country and its people. I only really rediscovered Italy starting in 2002 when I led college tours in Tuscany and Umbria, but my trips to Rome since (which would have been my answer to 2) two years ago, has now changed to Venice. Venice simply feels more like me. It's historical, it's on the sea (I need to be near ocean or at least a good equivalent) and a major city. While my first trip to Venice in 1995 was a huge disappointment, every trip since has been better and better and it's starting to feel like parts of France in being a 'bit like home'.
In the US, as I said in an earlier post, I've been to all but three of the continental states (missing the Dakotas and Oregon). I figure since I almost ended up in Portland, Oregon after a cancelled flight home upon arriving from abroad at JFK but only caught the mistake at the last minute, I will probably end up there someday when I become more demented and no longer am able to challenge a flight rebook. I hear it's a lovely place.
I have also been to all the Canadian provinces except British Columbia and Saskatchewan. No offense to Saskatoons out there, but I would like to see Vancouver and Victoria, esp. since I have a really stupid cancelled Europe credit of $600 (when they started counting taxes as much more than fares this spring making the credit not work for Europe at all anymore, but it will work for North America). Watch out for these weird airfare changes. That was a first. So if any of you have a suggestion of how I can maximize miles for less than $600 before August 30 within North America, please tell me.
I have never been to Alaska or Hawaii, and frankly (you're all going to think I'm nuts) am not very interested unless it takes a cheap short trip to keep my Delta status. The places have to be seriously historical for me to want to go there (I've never been to Bermuda or the Caribbean either). And for me that means hundreds or thousands of years old. I guess I could lounge on the beaches of Waikiki, but then frankly for me the beaches of Maine would do as well (and believe it or not I like the cold ocean better).
So again assuming unlimited free miles (let's even say business or first class) and free hotels, where would you go in these two categories? Why?
profchiara -- like you, I've been to a lot of places. Also in common, I have visited all states except 3, yours, ND, and VT. I hope to visit over the course of time many new locations both domestically and internationally, but honestly the one place I think I could go back to time and again is in fact Alaska. Not Anchorage, not Fairbanks, but the small villages along the Yukon or Kenai Peninsula. Beautiful country and hunting and fishing are two of my favorite pastimes in AK.
what a great thought-provoking travel question! I have also traveled the world and seen many beautiful sites along the way. I will be reaching a time in my life where that question will become a reality and sadly, I have no idea as to the answer. The good news, and what keeps me coming back to this site daily, is that someone, or several of you will pique my interest with your choices and why you chose them.
Thanks Prof! I hope others can fill these pages with great ideas.
I agree! It is a great question, mainly because it's answerable! Jasper posted a similar question not too long ago (Where would your dream trip take you?). Although definitely thought-provoking, it was just too difficult for me to answer because there are too many wonderful places in the world to go, all calling my name at the same decibel.
My answer for both 1 and 2 would be France. Second place would be - France.
Sooo much unfinished business there, and I could easily return annually for the rest of my life.
Seriously, second place would be Italy. I have so much unfinished business in both of those countries that it would still take a long time for me to get bored with them.
Spend it on BC! Vancouver and Victoria are awesome. Fly in and out of Seattle, and rent a car up to Vancouver, or take the jet boat out to Victoria. Also take a ferry to the San Juan Islands and do some whale watching, depending on time of year. BC gets my vote for your ticket credit!
you can definitely fly to the interior of AK. In fact, that's the only practical way to get there. All roads in that part of the state are local to each village. You can go by boat in the summer, but it's a lengthy trip, or by snow machine or dog sled in the winter, even slower. But unfortunately DL doesn't fly past Anchorage or Fairbanks. The regional carrier used to be Mark Air, not sure what it is now. And 600 bucks probably won't even get you to Anchorage. It's pricey, but worth it to me.
Actually I've been pretty much a whiz with Delta airfares. When I had to cancel one today for May 9 (since I will be in France all next week) the Delta agent said to me, wow, you're giving up a really good airfare esp with the int'l change fee.
It's one of the perks of my job -- I can pretty much fly when or where I want in May-September and on long weekends in between. Obviously, when I fly in the US or Canada, unless it's a conference, it's not in any way a business expense, but I have to use the $600 credit (and fly it) by August. And since my Delta perks are even more important to me than the Marriott ones (I love business class free flights to Greece, Italy and the Middle East), I want to get all the miles possible. Strangely until next week I have flown only in the US this year -- to Chicago in January and NYC a few weeks back -- but I will soon be in flying season to Europe and beyond. And if I'm short toward the end of the year, can someone tell me the farthest distance Delta flights can take me any where in the world, even if it's for a day or two? Maine - Kyoto? Yes, that is HOW determined I am to maintain my Delta status because it has paid off magnificently for more than two decades.
It's a fun way to track your life. I'll be 60 in July and it's been a major turning point in my thinking. While I cannot conceive of retiring before I'm 75, I've still taken stock in many areas of life. Travel has been one of the great joys, since for me at least it's never been associated with unpleasant trips that I 'had to take.' I've known a number of people who hate the travel associated with their business, so I know how lucky I am.
To me, as I thought out the question, the really intriguing part was that my answer has always changed over time. Had I not done much of my bucket list during my sabbatical of 2010-11, I would have never first experienced Egypt, Israel, the West Bank, Turkey, Andalusia, Spain, or the Greek islands. But all that did was whet my desire to visit more. I think now that I met with my dear 'special ops' friends (private joke for those of you on the site 3-4 months ago) at the electrical tower in Asian Istanbul, I feel I've seen enough of Turkey -- but I loved it. And when I got to NYC for "Saint Joan" a few weeks ago, I got to dine at Beyoglü, an amazing Turkish restaurant not far from the Metropolitan Museum. I will always love Turkey, but two visits pretty much gave me much of what I needed and wanted to visit and experience.
I guess I've come to the realization we do what we do as we get older for a reason -- to get more in touch with what we need to experience (there's a wonderful pilgrimage book called Making Travel Sacred, or some such title, by Phil Cousineau -- it is not religion-specific, though it is spiritual, and it has helped make me understand me).
For many of us travel is family, and my primary family now is my beloved cat (and you can see the person I named her after on the new TV series NYC22), so I'm always torn between traveling and being at home, yet I know travel invigorates me, makes me want to learn more, care more, and be involved in the world. (Plus I drink too much wine at home )
You know the funny thing -- I did so many things out of my comfort zone -- in 2010-11, that I am still a little stunned. I suddenly asked myself the other day if I go back to Egypt should I get a malaria shot (probably not necessary, as it turns out, though last time I went in December). So it's easy to get back into comfort zones, yet our lives are so much enriched by getting out of them. Greece first taught me that lesson in 2009 after my catsitter told me I must go away to someplace I had never been after I lost my cat of 18-1/2 years (yes, I am the cat lady par excellence, except I always have only one).
She sensed my utter depression and knew me well enough to tell me what to do (she's also the Econ secretary here). And what a train of events she set off. Once I lost Kitikat and then started going to all these places, I could not get enough of them.
Today in class we were talking about 750-950 in Spain, where the three major religions coexisted quite well -- even known as convivencia. And 5 of my 22 students had already been to Andalusia, so they added to the conversation. I am a very lucky person -- though partially we do make our luck as when I ignored the naysayers. But then I never have time for naysayers. Life is too short.
So NUHusker and Lori,
I gather it's to be British Columbia or Alaska for my 'free trip'? What say ye all? I think a few days in Honolulu would probably be not worth wearing myself out for the miles. And as you may have gathered southern California is not my favorite place (northern California I love and have been to many times). But to maximize miles, it sounds like either western Canada or Alaska. I had been thinking Seattle, which I love, but why not see places I've never been?
We did both last summer. We flew to Anchorage from New Orleans on Delta (4016 miles), then took a southbound Alaskan cruise which we really enjoyed. We docked in Vancouver on Canada Day and enjoyed a 3 day stay there. From there, we took a train to Seattle and spent 3 days there over the 4th of July. We rented a car and drove to Whidbey Island and enjoyed the beautiful scenery. We returned to Seattle and took the ferry to Victoria where we spent 3 days, then returned to Seattle for a 5-day stay. I wrote reviews of some of our activities and the hotels where we stayed; however, I'd be happy to answer any specific questions you might have. We flew back to New Orleans from Seattle (2853 miles). The open jaw fare was $439 last summer!
Well, again, I would have to vote for BC, but I confess to being a one-eyed monster, considering I've never been to Alaska (other than the airport), so my opinion is lopsided. Husker has said some great things about Alaska. There is a lot of natural beauty there, so...if it were my call, it'd be a tough one. Good luck. The good news is, you can't go wrong either way! How 'bout an Alaskan cruise? Lots of beautiful coastline.
Professor, that is a problem I do not have, thankully, but I will respond anyway.
Guess I am not a world traveler anymore and have used all my FF miles accumulated in doing so. Like many others pleasure travel was never on my short list, it was always business, sometimes a nasty business, in outposts long forgotten and frankly not that I'd like to revisit anytime soon.
I never made my own schedule, and actually never had a schedule. All you US taxpayers paid for my travel, every last dime, thanks for that. In my thirty years of globe trotting I wanted more than anything to come home, even kissing the tarmac on occasional returns (to the dismay of the flight folks). I once arrived at work in DC in the early AM, went overseas, and was back (thanks to USAF jet jocks) at Andrews late that evening,
I visited non-existing locations a lot, using an elaborate system of clothes changes, vehicle changes, reverse tracking and other Bondian tricks--which I hoped worked. No one will ever know where. I have mostly forgotten anyway, so it's all good.
I often entered foreign countries without passing through immigration but left a few days later without the required stamps--only once in Frankfurt was I detained for questioning, and my affected ignorance can be and was quite convincing--those who read my posts can agree). I often was in bad spots but through the grace of the Almighty and friends got out of them safely.
So now at last to your question: I had the chance through my Alma Mater (that small DC Jesuit school - Georgetown) to take a first class around the world flight on a 767 with 60 other alums and two MDs and three nurses to the best of the best places, all inclusive. At only $85,000 a person I was a few dollars short, so that was a missed opportunity. I guess that is still on the list and would gladly dump a million points for that if it were offered.
In the meantime I will continue to enjoy my bi-coastal lifestyle of watching alternating sunsets and different oceans, enjoying the gulls, the brown pelicans, and the sea lions, wearing wool sweaters and tee shirts.
As I age my needs are less and less, my willingness to put up with the madness of coach travel (not being an Elitist with the airlines I am the person that you wonder about in the knee-crunched middle of the five seat row on those jumbo jets.), the TSA insanity, the endless waits, and the inferior service of most airlines. I am one of the 99%ers here.
I like staying in good hotels, and some resorts. I throw my points at annual NYC visits and a few others to the desert that frames the Coachella Valley of CA. I miss the many overseas friends that I made in those business trips over many years. I do not miss that travel.
My wife has Argentina, Chile, Greece, Turkey and Australia on her short list--so I maybe outvoted, who knows.
I truly appreciate your service to the country and MRI. But I guess as I get older, my views are different. Most of my travel was for work (research that resulted in books and teaching), so now I want to combine the two. That started last year with my bucket list and I am still kind of shock and horrified at what I did, but all I want to do is more of it.
History is truly my passion, though only learned at age 24 when I read a historical novel -- prior to that I hated history because of how badly it was taught to me. Then learning classical and medieval history utterly made me a nerd. And one happy nerd. What an incredible life I have led thanks to where those courses led me (last year Knossos was the prime example).
I'm totally biased so ignore me, but of the places you mentioned I say Greece (a real deal these days!) and Turkey. I have never been to central or south America so can not give any feedback.
But enjoy whatever you do! That was my motto in following my career path and still is today in doing my bucket list. Speaking of which, has anyone been to Moscow or St. Petersburg recently? It was my fourth grad field and my nicest grad advisor, and I have sometimes taught Russian history. Is getting a visa to Russia different from getting one to Turkey or Egypt, where you buy it as you go through customs?
Professor that is what makes life and Insiders so interesting. Don't exclude South America--it is really amazing. And I should have mentioned Cuba, which after the Castro brothers go (subject of my next pot-boiler he says shamelessly) I hope to visit and to return without being held for ransom!
I always remember a friend's comment, a POW held in Hanoi, when someone innocently asked him what the incarceration was like, his reply was "like Coach with fewer amnesties."
And so it goes, as Kurt Vonnegut might have said. For those who enjoy travel I wish you all well. For those who find the comforts of home and trips to Target and Costco special, ditto.
So true!! I barely remember any history lessons from my youth, they were so bad. My English suffered as well, the result of my public education here in California. I didn't learn my technical writing skills until I entered college, and I confess to still being very ignorant regarding literary works of importance (computer science is my discipline, biological science is my passion). The best History I was ever taught was by my French teachers (6 years of French), who happened to be most excellent educators, and I'm sure that's why I identify with and love France and French culture so much.
Later on as a parent, I was appalled by the history text books and curriculum that my children used. Just appalled. Perhaps I should have been a textbook author, I don't know. As a lay person, I have enjoyed educating myself in the area of history (U.S. and World Civ, though still largely ignorant in both), but have shamefully neglected literature.
A great travel question.....here's my wish list.
For number 1: Back to Italy. Every time we have gone to Italy (except once to Bellagio) we have entered by car through Monaco. We went further each time but have yet to get to Rome and Sicily. Want to do that.
For number 2: Back to France. So many times we have flown into Paris for a few days, then driven south thru Lyon, Grenoble (Alps), into Monaco and west to Cannes, Nice, Marseille and back up through wine country for another extended stay in Paris before coming back to the States. We love that trip.
It's not that I exclude South or Central America but that it can no way be considered for me a research expense (pretty much only my trips to France and Italy count toward that). My idea was a hypothetical -- and since I am primarily a European and somewhat Middle East historian, that's where I will usually spend my miles and points.
But Lori, you latched on to my main point. Oddly enough, my backward-looking parents did me a favor in not supporting college for women. I got married to a man with two children (our custody, despite ex-wife living around the corner!) right after high school because the parental home was bad. But since he was unemployed most of our marriage and I got a full scholarship (still in New Jersey at the time), we moved. Our marriage ended shortly after (though we are still friends), and he got a job in Mass. and later NH. But while I was working as a secretary to support the family, I read an amazing historical novel that propelled me into history as my life's work.
So I guess I think life works in mysterious ways -- I don't think I'd take anything back that happened, because if I did I would not he who, where, or what I am today.
Our limited experiences lead to much more modest locales, but I'll share a few that make the return visit to do list:
Cape Town. I'd head back there in a heart beat. Relaxed atmosphere, many folks from many places, beautiful landscapes. One foot in the Atlantic and one foot in the Indian. Just looking up at Table Mountain with the "table cloth" is like a sigh of relief.
Ottawa. I was only there for three days. I liked the short exposure and need another week or so to really get a feel.
New Orleans is like an old friend. We love each and every visit.
Savannah, GA... one trip down, need one more.
Charleston, SC... same as Savannah.
I did a due diligence M&A tour of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, western Mass, and Rhode Island back in 1997. We've been back for quick hit visits. We have decided to use one of our "imaginary to real" 10 week trips back to New England to give it the proper attention. Now if we can keep our health and get this money thing figured out, 2015 here we come.
Need more people to weigh in. There is still a lot in Australia left for me to see. I probably won't go back until my sister moves back there though. In the meantime, I'm happy to have her working here in the states for as long as possible. I wonder if Jasper would go back to Aus and NZ, having spent a good amount of time there. Jasper, what say you?