I travelled a lot when I was younger. I joined the navy right after high school and saw more of the world than I thought I ever would. Some of the places I visited were amazing, some were awful, and a few felt like variations on a theme. I’m thankful for each place I got to visit from Varna, Bulgaria to San Juan, Puerto Rico.
This post is all about my favorite places. These are cities and sites that I’d love to revisit over and over again. Each has a special memory attached, or a funny story. In some cases I’m just glad to be alive and in one piece. Some of these destinations even made their way into my books!
Number 1: Stonehenge, England. The standing stones of Salisbury plain have fascinated me since I was a kid. The idea that our ancestors brought some of the stones from over one hundred miles away is mind boggling. We can only guess at why they did all that work, but it had a big impact on me. I felt more spiritual there than in any church or synagogue I’ve ever been in.
Number 2: Athens, Greece. The Acropolis in particular was my goal as soon as I could get off the ship. Two of my shipmates and I hurried to Athens from Piraeus. We found a museum at the foot of the hill, and thought we were on a path to the Parthenon. We were not. Instead the stone stairs ended half way up the hillside, and we climbed the last little hint of a path to a rocky outcrop. We were behind the ‘off limits for your safety’ ropes on what turned out to be St Paul’s Rock. At least we saved a few Drachmas on admission…
Number 3: Rome, Italy. I joined the navy in part, because of a picture in the brochure of a sailor exploring the colosseum. I got to recreate that picture, explore Caracalla’s Baths, and St Peter’s Basilica in Vatican City with a day trip bus tour group. Before the Vatican, we had a fabulous lunch and ordered too much wine. I was a bit tipsy on our way to the Vatican, but sobered up enough to answer the tour guide’s trivia questions.
Number 4: Stockholm, Sweden. The ship pulled into port at Gamla Stan (old town) Stockholm after following the archipelago from the sea. The transit to the city was breathtaking, so many islands, the water and islands holds a rugged beauty for mile after mile. When the city came into sight, it was one of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen in real life.
Number 5: Jerusalem, Israel. I took another bus tour from Haifa, Israel to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. We also visited a spa on the Dead Sea, toured Masada, and stayed over night at a hostel in Tel Aviv. It was all amazing. There is so much tension, hope, and violence focused in such a small area. I visited the Church of the Sepulcher, the stations of the cross in the old city, and I even stuffed a paper prayer into a crack in the Wailing Wall.
Number 6: Barcelona, Spain. For me, Barcelona is the kind of city that might spring up if New York City and Miami had a baby. There is so much excitement, the city never sleeps, but it’s also laid back like a beach town should be. I was able to visit Studio 54 in Barcelona before it closed. I still remember the at least ten foot tall (fifteen feet with her pedestal) Statue of Liberty in the middle of their dancefloor. Lady liberty had her skirt up as if to dance with the crowd to the pounding beat of the music that filled the cavernous dance hall. I knew I was in the right place!
Those are my favorites. I’ve been to other places, but wouldn’t rush back again. There are plenty of places I wish I’d never visited to begin with. I’ll make a post of my least favorite places to visit someday. I don’t travel much anymore, but the right destination might still be worth the effort.