Let Me Go! (55 Places I’d ♥ To Visit)

The world is a book, and those who do not travel
read only a page.
— St. Augustine

Where I’ve been: 55 Photographs

Perhaps I should start, meaning no disrespect, with places I have no desire to visit.
Because I usually prefer rustic over production, I don’t want to go to:
Disney Land
Disney World
Hawaii, the main island
Florida during spring break
Arizona in the winter
A cruise to anywhere
Las Vegas

My dream travel schedule, funds and time mine in abundance,
would be to visit a place and stay for a month.
I prefer off-the-path places, and off-season travel.

The order below is random—out-of-my-head random.

The photos not credited are from Wikimedia Commons.

If you always go where you have always gone
and always do what yo have always done,
you will always be what you are now.
— Tristan Gylberd

photo: Christina Jose
1. Albania — because Audrey and Brian live there.
Audrey and I (and Ruth, Barb, Eileen and Nancy) grew up together in Lombard, IL.
If I’m dreaming HUGE, our next girlfriend reunion would be there.

2. Istanbul, Turkey
— because Will and Emma (my nephew and niece) live there.
Ever since I’ve read about the Hagia Sophia I’ve wanted to see it with my own eyes.
And there is Lamb Shawarma. (I wrote that *before* I saw The Avengers!)

3. Cape Town, South Africa — because my Aunt Betty lived and died there.
I want to meet her adopted son, Jean-Blaise, and his wife, Loret.
And dear Virginia, who—via Skype—talked me through my Aunt’s life and death.

4. Monhegan Island, Maine
This is my brother and sister-in-law’s favorite place.
A haven for artists twelve miles off the coast of Maine,
Monhegan is the perfect place to recharge.

photo: Katie Boyd

5. Harare, Zimbabwe
Harare is on more than one list of where NOT to go.
But a friend, with whom I used to swap weekly emails, lives there.

6. Budapest (and the glorious Danube River) —
Did you know this city used to be two cities: Buda and Pest?
I love trying to pronounce Pest the local way: Peshhht.
Norm and Michelle, friends from almost 40 years ago live here.

7. St. Petersburg, Russia —
The Winter Palace is part of The Hermitage, a museum founded in 1764
which holds the largest collection of paintings in the world.
In preparation for the rare chance that I would go to St. P.
I’m *thinking* about reading the great Russian writers.

8. Krakow, Poland —  It was the children’s book,
The Trumpeter of Krakow, that first put this city on my globe.
I would be sure to visit Karen, a fellow bibliophile, who blogs at U Krakovianki.
One of Europe’s oldest cities, Krakow is a gold mine of architectural styles.
The Jewish Quarter is a must see.

9. Why Wales? — Most castles per capita, for one.
Hay-on-Wye, world renown bookstore town. 30+ secondhand books!!
How Green Was My Valley, Welsh revivals, the tradition of Welsh singing, and Welsh Corgis (my first dog).
And all those charming LL words in Welsh: Lloyd, Llewellyn, Llangollen,

10. Quebec City, Quebec —  I want to go for the sheer romance of the city.
To hear French spoken. Willa Cather’s historical novel,
Shadows on the Rock, piqued my interest, oui?


11. Jerusalem. All of Israel — from the Negev to the Golan Heights;
from Tel Aviv to Jericho.
My grandpa went to Israel.
My dad went to Israel.
I’d like to go…someday.

The perfect journey is circular —
the joy of departure
and the joy of return.
— Dino Basili

12. Dublin (home of the Book of Kells) —
A dear friend took a solo trip to Ireland, the land of her fathers.
A young man I know saved his nickels and spent a month hitchhiking Ireland.
Dublin, Belfast, Shannon, Wexford, Cork, Donegal, and the Blasket Islands:
I want to see them all. (And oh! the reading that would precede that trip!)

13.  China — where the Terracotta Army is being excavated.

14.  The Lake District, England — It is both romantic and literary.

photo from East-Coast-Golf-Vacations.com

15. Prince Edward Island — Who has read Anne of Green Gables
and not wanted to visit PEI?

 16. London (soundtrack: ♫♪♫ England swings like a pendulum do ♪♫♪) —
Confession: I’ve been in London, but not really. Heathrow doesn’t count.
Nor does a drive through. We planned a day in London which we canceled.
One day to see Westminster Abbey and the British Museum and 84 Charing Cross Road and…?
I promised myself that if I came to see London, I would give myself
at least four days. It’s an expensive destination, but so worth it.
I’ve never seen so many ethnic groups as I did in London.

17. New York City — I’ve been threatening to visit NYC for a while.
One week for the museums, one week for shows, one week for
people watching. Some of my favorite Facebook statuses (stati?) are
Rebeccah’s 4:56 a.m. Starbucks/subway updates. She’s got a hilarious book
inside her on commuting protocol.

Photo from angelfire.com

18.  Kwajelein — a 1.2  x 2.5 mile atoll (a coral island that encircles a lagoon)
in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. My brother, sister-in-law, and nephew lived
there for a few years. I keep meeting people who lived once on tiny Kwaj.
Since it is a restricted island, I don’t think I could ever visit, but it’d be fun!

Photo from Readers Digest rd.com

19.  Florida Keys — These words captured my imagination long ago.
It may have been Key West, President Nixon’s favorite escape.
If you don’t know who President Nixon was, please don’t say it aloud.
Can you imagine *driving* from island to island?
Doesn’t this picture say, “Come, check me out?”

20. The Netherlands — my maternal grandmother emigrated from Holland when she was nine. I would visit Barendrecht, her birthplace. My own grandma’s place of birth!
And look at tulips. And eat cheese.
And visit the Rien Poortvliet Museum.

211. Cappadocia — History abounds in central Turkey.
Cliff dwellers, underground cities where early Christians lived.
This video made Cappadocia my cuppa.

Not all those who wander are lost.
— J.R.R. Tolkien

22. Dubrovnik — a coastal fortress in Croatia
My brother-in-law is the son of Croatian emigrants.
When they came back from a visit, my sister-in-law
gave me a book about Dubrovnik.
It’s a city steeped in history.


23. The Orkney Islands — Have you heard of the Thules? (pronounced TOOL lees)
They are the northernmost part of the habitable world. The Orkneys qualify.
Leslie Thomas’ book Some Lovely Islands fanned an
already burning fascination with insular culture.
There are thriving communities of folk art and crafts.


24. The Blasket Islands — Some Lovely Islands
introduced me to Greater Blasket Island. This forsaken island produced authors and books. I’ve read Peig Sayer’s An Old Woman’s Reflections
and Maurice O’Sullivan’s Twenty Years A-Growing.
The last day people lived on this island was November 17, 1953. The Irish government
evacuated the population because it could not maintain their safety.
Some cottages still have furniture, kettles hanging from chains, crockery…all abandoned.

25. Mont Saint-Michel — Blame Henry Adams. An island fortress,
an abbey, that spire pointing upwards. Oh yes, please!

26. Venice — I have read so much about the pigeons in the piazza at
St. Mark’s, that I can practically hear the cacophony they make.

  27.  Florence — how this missed the top five is a mystery.
Firenze! (Italian name) Tuscany! I can taste you in my mouth.
Michelangelo. Giotto. Donatello. da Vinci. Dante. Galileo.
Ah, Firenze.

28.  Parma — A culinary festival.
Parmesan cheese, Proscuitto di Parma, home of Verdi.
Go ahead and laugh: John Grisham’s Playing for Pizza made me salivate.

 29. Geneva — Switzerland, in general.
Calvin, clocks and Lake Geneva.

30.  Paris — Notre Dame, the Louvre, Eiffel, Tower, Arc de Triomphe,
left bank, right bank, Latin quarter,
cafes, patisseiries, brasseries, chocolat.


31. Steens Mountain — Harney County, Oregon
Only navigable in the warm season, this mountain is
composed of “basalts, stacked one upon another.”
Steens has been on my husbands wish list for years.
We recently flew over this wilderness area and
renewed our intention to go visit.

Whenever I start pulling out this list of places I’d like to go,
Curt’s comeback remains: I’d just like to see Steens Mountain.

32. Victoria — British Columbia
Canada: you have to love a country that is book-ended
by Victoria and Prince Edward Island.
Charming gardens, historical architecture, people from all nations.

There are only two rules.

One is E. M. Forster’s guide to Alexandria: the best way
to know Alexandria is to wander aimlessly.
The second is from the Psalms: grin like a dog
and run about through the city.
—  Jan Morris

photo: The Minam River Lodge

33. The Minam River Lodge — Minam, Oregon
The only way into this wilderness retreat is by chartering a plane,
horseback and hiking a 8.5 mile trail. I hope to get into shape
for the hike with my husband next summer.

34. Corfu — Greek Island in the Ionian Sea
Reading My Family and Other Animals put this island on my map.

35. Sweet Home, Oregon
If it’s wrong to like a place simply because of the name, then indict me.
When we first contemplated a move to Oregon, we looked at the map.
It’s twee, but I’ve wanted a Sweet Home return address ever since.

36. Cape Mendocino Coast — California
Earlier this year we were talking about the prettiest drives we’d taken.
Since we were just getting acquainted and I was more enamored with my
boyfriend when we drove on Highway 1, I’d like another chance to see it.

37. Lolo Pass, Idaho-Montana
Highway 12, between Lewiston, ID and Missoula, MT
has some of the most stunning vistas you can imagine.
We’ve traveled through. We need to travel to.

38. Sunnyside, Washington
My great-grandfather immigrated from Holland to Sunnyside.
The town’s history fascinates me: Dunkards started a Christian colony,
and included a “morality clause” (no drinking, dancing, gambling, or horseracing)
in every land deed sold. I’m sure we still have distant relatives living there.
It’d be fun to go exploring with one of my brothers or sisters.
Oh brother (sister), where art thou?

photo: elklakeresortmontana.com

39.  Elk Lake Resort, Montana
When our friends moved to Elk Lake Resort near Yellowstone Park,
we said we’d come visit. We’ve dropped that ball, but there is still time to follow through!

 40. Civil War Battle Sites – (shown is Burnside Bridge at Antietam)
Perhaps I should limit it to the Top 10 Sites. I’ve been to
Gettysburg, PA and Franklin, TN and I will never forget either.
You would need a year to read and prepare, but this kind of
excursion would ignite me.

41. Baseball Park Tour (Wrigley Field)
In the late 1980s two guys in my small town mapped out a summer
tour in their VW Bug to see a game in all 30 major league baseball stadiums.
I wouldn’t want to try the one season gig, but with my penchant
for collecting, a repressed passion for baseball, and a love of
road trips, I am enticed.

Travel does what good novelists also do to the life of everyday,
placing it like a picture in a frame or a gem in its setting,
so that the intrinsic qualities are made more clear.
Travel does this with the very stuff that everyday life is made of,
giving to it the sharp contour and meaning of art.
— Freya Stark

42. Tallinn, Estonia
The Singing Revolution DVD put this country on my map.
Who wouldn’t want to visit a country who gained
independence from the Soviet Union by singing?

43.  St. Louis, Missouri
One doesn’t have to go to Europe to see cathedrals.
Cathedral Basilica, with its organ, would be a must see for me.

44. Cannon Beach, Oregon
I want to take a picture of Haystack Rock. (It seems all my friends have.)
And hear the surf. And sleep in a yurt.

45. Skagit Valley Tulip Festival, Washington (visited April 2013)
April 2013. Tulips galore.
Beauty abounds.
This is doable. I just have to make a plan.

46. Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
The best reason to visit is to see our former neighbors—
and my mom’s best friend—who have retired here.
Oh, brother/sister where art thou?

47. Upper Peninsula, Michigan
In my youth I always heard about the U.P. Because it was remote
and beyond, it has remained one of those places I’d like to visit.
Lighthouses, bridges and the Great Lakes Shipwreck Museum.
I’m already humming Gordon Lightfoot.

48. Lancaster, Pennsylvania
Yes, I would. I’d like to see an Amish community.
But when I Googled Lancaster, the first thing I saw
was their convention center. Yep.

49. Bath, Somerset, England
A Jane Austen literary tour. Lyme, Chawton, Steventon, Winchester.
Be still my heart. Calm. We must be calm.
Of course, preparation would include reading the complete Austen canon,
watching every DVD. What fun, what fun!

50. Napa Valley, California
Beautiful scenery, do a little wine tasting.
I could be persuaded.

51. Provence, France
On a whim, I picked up a French Audio course at the library yesterday,
curious how much of my high school French stuck. Not. much.
It would be great to refresh it in Provence, n’est-ce-pas?
We dream about going with college friends.
M.F.K. Fisher’s Two Towns in Provence made me thirsty for France.

52. Door County, Wisconsin
Another destination that I’ve been told about many times.
They have fish boils are legend.

53. St. Augustine, Florida
I can’t remember the book that long ago made me want to
see St. Augustine. Give me history and I’m happy.

54. Troy, Oregon (visited September 2013)
You’ve never heard of Troy,OR (pop 25-30) Not to be confused with Troy, ID (pop 862).
On our way home from church we pass a road with a sign: Troy 38 miles.
And I’ve always wanted to follow that dirt road. At least once.

 55. Charleston, SC
Southern hospitality, Lowcountry cuisine,
cobblestone streets, Huguenot church. Yes!


9 thoughts on “Let Me Go! (55 Places I’d ♥ To Visit)

  1. I’ve only been to a couple of places on your list. I will re-read this tomorrow in depth, but wanted to let you know I have a contact to the U.P.  we are waiting now for friends to arrive so we can go to Nashville for a concert at the Bluebird. She grew up in Paradise, MI, and his mother’s family is from there. His parents now own a small motel on the shore of lake Superior. We talked about the Edmund Fitzgerald the other day. She is 10 years younger than I so was very young when it happened but has clear memories. Great post!

  2. Carol, I’ve been wanting to tell you that I had the opportunity to visit Split, Croatia in October.  And we drove through Budapest to do it.  In fact, we spent the night there.  We watched the sun rise in Budapest, and the same evening, we watched it set over the Adriatic Sea in Split.  I won’t forget that.  We drove 1400 km (the best part of 1,000 miles) to get there, and Dubrovnik was some further 200-300 km down the coast.  I’ve wanted to see Split ever since reading Island of the World, and my husband wanted to see it because a friend visited and showed him pictures.  It was truly amazing, and I wish we’d had the month instead of the week (which included the travel time).  It was all wonderful, but we discovered cevapi, a Balkan sausage pita sandwich, that made the whole thing worth while.  Yum!Naturally, you can visit with us if you get to Krakow–I’d love that! 

  3. The convention center is in the city of Lancaster the Amish don’t live in the city they are scattered throughout the county. There isn’t really an “Amish community” unless you go to the touristy places in the county like intercourse.

      • Wonderful! You should go to Green Dragon in Ephrata on a Friday night, you will see lots of Amish people.

      • Just wanted to add that I am reading through your blog in its entirety and I am thoroughly enjoying it!

  4. Laura! Thank you so much! That is such an encouraging comment. I will probably be at the rehearsal dinner on a Friday night, but I will tuck that suggestion in a safe place and see if it works!

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