Some Favorite Places

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I am often asked, “What are your favorite vacation places?”

Having visited 122 countries to date, that is a very difficult question to answer. There simply is not one favorite.

So much of our own country is fantastic — as is Canada — that one could write a book on that subject alone. Some of the locations that stand out for me in North America are: the coasts of California, Oregon and Washington State; Colorado with its stately mountains, quaint towns, skiing and camping possibilities. I particularly enjoy the National Parks of Mt. Rainier, Glacier Park, Yellowstone and the rugged peaks of the Grand Tetons as seen from the Jackson Hole area. In Canada, my favorite areas are the coastal areas around the city of Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Province of British Columbia, including the wonders of the Canadian Rockies.

Alaska is special no matter how many times you visit the 50th state, and is best seen from a cruise ship. The Inland Passage cruises visit interesting ports of call, you get up close to glaciers and you simply sit on deck or in a comfortable lounge chair near the wide windows and soak up nature’s grandeur.

Hawaii never disappoints, and my favorite islands here are Maui and Kauai. Oahu is interesting, but this is where most of the tourists go and I try to stay away.

The northeast part of our nation is not only very scenic, especially during fall colors, but steeped in history. If you are not familiar with this part of the country, I suggest taking an organized tour so as not to miss the best of the area — and, the seafood along this coast is to die for.

New York and Washington, D.C. should be enjoyed at least once in a lifetime and let’s not forget the Deep South. It also holds much history to be enjoyed, along with wonderful scenery, southern cooking specialties and hospitality. I especially appreciate the cities of Charleston and Savannah. These are truly the old South!

If you are a beach hound, try those in Florida. You could spend a month here driving up and down both coasts with your blanket, towels, sunscreen and dark glasses.

Overseas, some of my favorites would include New Zealand. Here is a special land that also never disappoints, full of scenic adventures. The north and south islands are of distinct contrast in glorious scenery, great people, good roads and they speak our same language. No confusion, misunderstanding and they always want to help you have the vacation of a lifetime. There are great beaches, good, clean hotels and motels, and food you can trust and are familiar with. The south island is where you will find the Southern Alps, which are great for skiing if you are so inclined. The top of the north island is where you will go for beaches. The length of New Zealand stretches 1,100 miles from north to south.

I visited Norway last summer and spent some days cruising in their awesome Fjords. I had wanted to visit this area for many years and I finally got to do it. The Fjords are spectacular. That’s all I can say, and that would be a conservative description. See Norway for yourself sometime, you’ll see what I mean. Mountains and waterfalls are so plentiful they almost become boring (not really), there is great seafood, green, green countryside, clean, clean cities and gracious people. Norway is truly wonderful.

The British Isles are not to be missed because of the history that is so important to many of us in America. London is fantastic in many ways and so is the countryside, with towns and villages that are a treat to stroll through, perhaps have a meal and do some shopping. The same can be said for Scotland with its spectacular highland area and warm and friendly people. Ireland is becoming very popular with tourists now and deserves it place as a leading vacation land. Here again are warm, friendly people who also speak your language. The pubs all over the British Isles are a great place to meet the locals and sample a pint or two of brew with some local food. Train travel in England and Scotland is good with frequent, fast schedules. Some Americans like to rent automobiles and do their own travel through these areas via motorway, but for me, I’ll take the rails.

In Europe, I enjoy France. I love the food, the cities, the countryside, and the shores along the Mediterranean. Paris remains my favorite city on this planet. The history, the architecture, the entertainment choices and some of the greatest museums in the world are the draws for me.

And let’s not forget Italy. The historical ruins, the great art, sunny people, interesting landscape and fantastic shorelines are always wonderful. A visit to Rome, Florence and Venice are a must here. The food? Pasta anyone?

A Greek Isle cruise is fascinating, with stops at small islands of historical importance and wonderful food. Try the lamb; you’ll come back for more.

Austria and Switzerland can be enjoyed wherever you venture. Here are countries that have great historical importance; everything runs on time; there are friendly people, good shopping, fantastic food and great music. The Swiss lake areas are special, and don’t miss Vienna.

I suppose one should visit Egypt at least once because of the temples and zillions of artifacts you’ll see. The best way to see the ruins is a five-day cruise on the Nile River, which will take you to many of the major sites. Luxor is my favorite, and do not miss the sound and light show here in the evening. The best time to visit Egypt is in the winter months when it’s not so hot. The summers are even hotter than in Phoenix.

In Asia, Japan is my personal favorite. I lived there for a year and have visited this outstanding country many times since. I like everything about Japan: the people, the history, entertainment, historical monuments, museums, the food and the countryside. Here is another place where everything works and is clean, clean, clean. China is coming into its own now especially since the publicity of the Olympic Games. An organized tour here is recommend where everything is pretty much arranged and you are guided to most points of interest.

Prices vary and your travel agent can assist you with recommendations and arrangements. I have missed much, but there is only so much space.

Wherever you go, pack me in your suitcase, please.

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