As a result of a recent doctor's visit (and 15 years of history with multiple spinal, nerve, and arthritic issues) I find myself facing as I did in 1999-2000 the possibility of extreme limitations to my mobility both as a result of possible surgeries and recovery periods, as well as having to work. As a college professor, I have a fabulous job that lets me travel to those places where I do my research and plan my new courses.
So I'd ask you all, at whatever stage of life you are (I'm 61.5)
1)What city will you go back to as many times as you possibly can
2)What country will you visit different parts of as often as you can
3)What place MUST you go back to no matter how difficult it is, before you enter that ultimate realm of travel ?
Here are my answers, very easy to me as it turns out, but which never would have been obvious to me 40, 30, 20 or even 10 or 5 years ago when I was spending most of my research time in France and some fellowship time in Germany, Switzerland and London. All that has changed. I've lived in France about 1/20 of my life, and been pretty much everywhere, and having lived in Paris about 3 of those years, 2 consecutive, I feel no need or particular desire to go back. Don't mistake me -- I love Paris. But it's kind of like visiting the old neighborhood -- perhaps nice, but not particularly inspiring. I encourage many of you to disagree with me vehemently.
The bulk of my answers to my three questions happened in the last 5 years, though the answer to number one has transpired over a much longer period. Here goes:
1) Venice. I am going again in about 2-1/2 weeks for the 10th or 11th or 12th time. The vast majority of those ten times came in the past 6 years when my research interests shifted. Now I go 2-3 times a year. And aside from my beloved cat, I would say that La Serenissima e il mio cuore e la mia anima (The Serenissima, its longtime nickname, is my heart and soul. And each time I'm going I'm staying at a different hotel because the light is different, the reflections off the canals is different, and you feel the history differently.
2) Greece. I have now gone to Greece at least twice a year for the past five years, and there are ever parts of the mainland and islands to discover. Like Venice, it is a combination of the sun on the sea that is pure magic, as well as the amazing hospitality of Greeks.
3) Egypt, especially Upper Egypt (Luxor again and Abu Simbel for the first time). I was lucky enough to go before the first revolution by three weeks (except the historian part of me who would have liked to have remained for it), and the Valley of the Kings and Queens is the most amazing spot I have ever seen on earth. Nothing will ever prepare you for the beauty of the insides of the tombs. I would love to do a Nile cruise from Luxor to Abu Simbel, the latter of which I've only seen bits of through the Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of New York.
So what are your three places? They can be close to home or far away or even only dreams.