I have travelled to over 45 nations and I am frequently asked “where is your favourite place? Where would I go back?
There are so many great options that I find it tough to pick just one. That is why my usual answer to the question is:
“The next place I go”
Cop out? Still true. I love the new places I get to travel. Recently I was travelling into Cambodia and Thailand, I have been to both countries before and was excited to return, although I must admit, I wished I was able to see a new place. Then the layover in Korea happened.
I had just gotten off the red eye, and my next flight wasn’t for another 12 hours. I was not looking forward to spending it in an airport. As I walked through the terminal I spotted a sign in English.
Free city tour.
I checked in and soon found myself joined to a tour-group sponsored by the Korean government. A whirlwind day tour of a beautiful temple, the national palace, lunch and some free time in the shopping district followed. A day, I thought might be wasted in an airport, turned into a serendipitous opportunity to visit beautiful Seoul. I hope to go back for more someday!
I love the new places I get to travel, even for a day, but I also have a few fond memories of some other locations.
Here they are:
5. Sub-Saharan Africa. I know that Africa is not a country, and the continent is highly varied with a huge number of tribes and peoples, but I find it almost impossible to pick just one place. I have favourite memories of my visits to a local Zambian home. Playing floor hockey in Malawi. Visiting South Africa as apartheid was beginning to be dismantled. Meeting the statuesque Turkana people in northern Kenya. Gazing over the endless hills of Rwanda. And driving the mountain roads through the tea plantations in DR Congo. Each experience is unique, tremendously different from one another, and yet a common thread runs through. Once you are in the village, the language and staple food may change, but the beat of life follows the same African drum.
This is a life-giving rhythm.
4. The table-lands near Trout River, Newfoundland. Rock and Water: my favourite scenery is always some combination of the two. Maybe it is in the genes of every Newfoundlander? The wash of water over rock is visually stunning. The table lands are a geological anomaly in the area where my fathers family grew up. When he was a kid, there wasn’t a road in or out, you got around by boat. My grandfather knew this place as he carried the mail by dogsled through the gulch. That same gulch eased now by the highway into some of the most spectacular scenery on the planet. Few travel there. It is easier and cheaper to go to Europe. But you will not find a friendlier people to visit.
This is home.
3. At a roadside stall. I love street food. I know it is deadly dangerous and all, but all the same, I love it. I remember BBQ oysters steamed with a healthy heap of garlic while sitting with friends in an alleyway in China, banana pancakes and mama noodle stirfry in Thailand, sitting on rusty benches in the market eating plates of shrimp and rice in Cambodia, deep fried mars bars in the winter chill of Scotland, grocery store bread and cheese while watching the pope at the Vatican, plate lunches of truly massive portions in Hawaii. Each meal, simple, local, cheap and most important deliciously memorable.
This is satisfaction.
2. Spain. Gaudi’s Sagrada Familia cathedral and the warrens of small cafés in Barcelona. Learning how to eat tapas and going back for another helping of boiled octopus. Desert landscape punctuated by ancient communities along the Camino de Santiago. Renting a car and finding our way to that small town where John and I got lost for hours but eventually wound up at a bullfight – still the most stunning and surreal thing I have seen in my life.
This is exuberance and joy.
1. Kananaskis, Alberta. Travel down highway 8 off of the trans-Canada just 25 minutes from Calgary and you enter into some if the most spectacular scenery in the world. High alpine lakes, stark mountains studded by ranks of lodge pole pine. The wind whistles through the canyons and you could hike for hours without seeing another person. Banff and Lake Louise are just down the road and they are amazing, but locals go to Kananaskis.
This is peace
So, next time you ask, I may have a new destination in mind, but what do you think of my five favourite places on the planet at the moment? More importantly, where should I go next?
What’s your favourite place?