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Old May 20th, 2007, 11:33 PM
AR AR is offline
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Default 1000 Places

Finally got hold of 1000 Places to See Before You Die. I was curious about the author's view of the world, and inevitably began counting our "hits." Haven't finished that yet, and don't know if I'll really bother to do a careful job, but it looks like we've hit between a quarter and a third of her top 1000 so far.

But it's a quirky list, mostly because places like Charlie Trotter's restaurant in Chicago are listed on a par with "Paris." As good as Charlie's food may be, I don't think the two are comparable in any way. There's a real micro vs. macro issue with the book that makes doing a count somewhat meaningless. Plus, some of our most lasting memories are of places never mentioned in the book.

Nevertheless, it's a good reference guide for getting ideas about some new destinations, and remembering fondly the ones you've already visited.

So why don't we start a string of favorite trips, favorite places. And just for fun, let's make them all non-cruise related (mostly because I think there would be a lot of duplication among cruise destinations).

We always talk about our "first big trip," in 1970, a year after we were married. To this day, I have no idea how we both managed to wangle five weeks off, but somehow we did, and we set off for Europe.

I remember the itinerary by heart. . .we flew to Rome, spent several days, then took the overnight train to Venice, where we fell in love with the city and with each other all over again. Another overnight train to Torino, where friends picked us up and took us to their home in the beautiful Sousa Valley in the pre-Alps. We spent a wonderful few days with this fabulous Italian family. One night we were taken up into the mountains to our host's favorite trattoria. He had to make reservations, for the simple reason that the place only had one table. Amazing place, amazing meal.

Then it was on the train again to Geneva, where I got to visit friends at the International Red Cross. Next stop was Cologne, just in time for Photokina, the big international photographic trade show. Next, on to Munich, just in time for Oktoberfest. We stayed with a friend of Terry's who was working in Munich, and had a great time at the fair grounds, some of which I actually remember. Mostly I remember the German waitresses who could carry five liters of beer in each hand. Before we left Bavaria we spent one night with another friend in Geingen, the little town where they make the Steiff toys.

Then it was off to Paris, to see the sights and discover the left bank. The final train ride was up to London. We sprang for a first class Wagon-Lit compartment on the overnight boat train, which was really a hoot. Long before the Chunnel, you got on the train at Gare du Nord and went up to Calais. There they rolled the first class cars directly onto tracks on the ferry and you steamed across to Dover, where a British engine pulled the cars off the boat and up to Victoria. You never had to leave your cozy little room. But only the first-class cars got to go on the boat. If you went coach, you had to get off at Calais, get on the boat and sit up all night, then reboard the British train in the morning.

During that first visit to London (for me, second for Terry), we did some amazing things. We went to the Ceremony of the Keys at the Tower, the British Museum, ate steak and kidney pie at the Sherlock Holmes pub, had beef and Yorkshire pud at Simpson's on the Strand, and saw several shows in the West End. I had to pinch myself to believe that we were sitting in the dress circle at the Queen's Theatre watching Ralph Richardson and John Gielgud. Just amazing.

And all of that long before suitcases had rollers. Quite a five weeks. One thing's for sure, it absolutely hooked us on travel. We've never stopped, and don't intend to anytime soon.

You?
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 09:36 AM
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While I don't have the amazing world experiences that you've had, AR, a couple of national experiences come to mind.

1. Mostly recently - Chicago! There is nothing I didn't like about Chicago. I went in late spring so avoided the chilling temperatures (and the wind). What we liked most was wandering the streets. There were so many places you could get to on foot. Millenium Park was beautiful; the "bean" statute amazing; and the myriad footpaths and parks that lined the lake - gorgeous. The food was incredible. I thought I'd had a deep dish pizza before, but NO!

2. Raccoon Mountain, Tennessee. Strange, I know, but we did a wild cave adventure inside this mountain when my son was younger. Not the tame, WALK thru the cave, but down in the mud and dirt crawling thru the cave with a miners light and battery hooked up.

It was hands and knees for one-third of the tour (lasted 4 hours) and plenty of belly crawling (when it was too small to be up on your hands and knees), as well. Was it sometimes a little scary? Heck yes! But just when you thought you couldn't take one more second in a little tunnel, it would dump you out into a HUGE cavern that made it all worthwhile. I did this with my son's boy scout troop and then marked if off my life list. Done it - but won't do it again!

3. St Simons Island, Georgia is truly one of the most memorable places for my family. We've gone for years and never get tired of the old trees forming a kind of tunnel over the roads, with spanish moss hanging down. The atmosphere is what most people think of as truly "southern." The pace is slow and relaxed, the beach wonderful and lots of history, too. There's an old fort, one of the first churches in the US and much more. Everyone gathers at night on the pier to watch the sunset and just socialize.

Let's hear some more!

dorothy
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 12:47 PM
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Dorothy--

Boy am I in your corner about the toddlin' town. My college years were spent in the northern suburbs, so Chicago is still a kind of "home" to me. I just love it too. Next time you go (if you didn't do it already) try the archictectural boat tour that leaves from Navy Pier. As you discovered, Chicago's architecture is second to none in the country (and in some respects the world), and seeing and learning about it from the river with a docent from the architectural society is very special.

We'll be going back in August to hook up with some of my old gang who stayed in the area. Also, Terry hasn't seen Millennium Park yet which, as you say, is a stunner. Then there's always Second City, Wrigley Field, the Art Institute, the ethnic neighborhoods on the West Side. It truly is "the city with broad shoulders" and exceptionally nice people. And, you're right, what's called "deep dish pizza" in the rest of the country doesn't hold a candle to the real thing.
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Old May 22nd, 2007, 02:24 PM
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AR

I forgot to bring up the Art Institute. We could have stayed for days and days and were very sorry we only had ONE to spend in the museum.

We'll be going back!

dorothy
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