I love to travel, and one of the things I love best about it are the memories. They continue to nourish me for years after the souvenirs have been forgotten.
Travel is all about taking in new sights, sounds, smells, foods and, best of all, meeting new people. One of the things you learn when seeing the world is that, while we may all lead different lives and have different customs, we all want the same thing: to enjoy a good day with people we love.
I’ve held on to memories from all the remarkable places I’ve been, but these are some of the ones that stand out:
· The limestone islands and floating villages of Vietnam’s Ha Long Bay, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Butterfield & Robinson made this bicycling trip unforgettable.
· Lijiang, in the northwest of China’s Yunnan province, is best known for the Old Town of Lijiang, another UNESCO World Heritage Site (clearly, these are on my bucket list). It’s also home to the Musuo, the last matriarchal society in the world. The women there wear white dresses with blue aprons, to mimic the clouds in the sky, which makes them feel closer to heaven.
· Another magnificent biking trip through Butterfield & Robinson, this one through Laos. Watching the monks’ early morning procession to the village monastery, gathering offerings of sticky rice along the way, remains one of the most extraordinary events of my life.
· Sipping Casa Dragones Blue Agave Tequila on the terrace at the Rosewood San Miguel de Allende in Mexico. The cobblestone streets in San Miguel, while lovely, aren’t the best if you’re wearing heels. No worries, though. There are plenty of other things to love, including the recently excavated Cañada de la Virgen pyramid nearby.
· The double-hole green at the Aviara Golf Club in Carlsbad, California, overlooking the Batiquitos Lagoon nature preserve. I can still see the sunlight coming across the glistening greens in the morning. And, as if to remind us that nature is always wild (regardless of how manicured it may look), a hawk flew over us, swooped down, picked up a rabbit, swooped back up to the top of a nearby tree and had his breakfast.
· Being serenaded by a bagpiper at sunset at the Ritz-Carlton, Half Moon Bay in northern California.
· Catching a flyover by the International Space Station while dining in Arizona’s Sonoran Desert near the Ritz-Carlton, Dove Mountain.
· Watching the leaves change during a visit to Washington, Connecticut, and staying at the opulent Mayflower Grace Hotel.
· Getting up at the crack of down to catch the Albuquerque Balloon Festival and coming upon a scene that almost can’t be believed: hundreds of enormous balloons in every conceivable shape, color, animal and character.
· Riding the double-decker bus to Barcelona’s Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, one of architect Antoni Gaudí’s most famous works.
· Watching a couple get married at the Belmond Hotel Caruso on Italy’s Amalfi Coast, and the relaxing boat ride from Positano to Capri.
· Snorkeling and scuba diving Australia’s Great Barrier Reef with Abercrombie & Kent. Equally exciting was the anticipation on the boat ride there. Pure bliss.
· The view of Lake Tahoe from the Mt. Rose ski lift. Simply breathtaking.