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Where are you going next?

by Jan Wheatcroft

“Where is your next trip?” is the question I get asked most often by people who “read me” in the COURIER. 

Often I have no idea or have so many places that I would love to visit I find it hard to choose.

This past year has been difficult for me “travel wise” due to surgeries and recuperation. It has put me in a different place. I’m not feeling free to “just get up and go,” and am wondering about my health and my safety. But in my mind I am always planning trips and paving the way for future travels. 

Reading travel magazines helps to keep the travel energy flowing, even though I do not choose to travel in the way most of the articles promote.  Still, the information about the best times to visit, the photographs of various small streets and passageways and old, graceful buildings and food choices stimulate the urge to visit, and to see and experience new places and revisit cities and countries where I have found so much pleasure.

For example, it was through a magazine article that I discovered the city of Nantes, France and the center where huge robotic animals were conceived and built. I developed a great longing to see the major exhibit, the elephant, and ride inside it. I also enjoy reading first-person stories about travel experiences. These help me form my travel dreams.

I am lucky to have a dear friend coming to visit in the next few weeks and together we will explore some areas in Southern California. This will be my first outing in some time, and I’m looking forward to rediscovering the joy of being on the road.

We have an interesting range of choices: going up the coast and exploring the area around Ojai and further north to Cambria, or out to the desert, perhaps to Joshua Tree and the surrounding area. I hope to get a chance for a short trip into Los Angeles to see some street art and a few iconic places that another dear friend knows about.

I do have many thoughts of traveling around the US, although throughout my life I’ve mostly had my sights set on foreign travel. I love the exotic, the different; places where art and craft play such a strong part in the daily lives of local people. I enjoy aromatic places where different foods scent the air, where daily markets provide the centers for shopping, and where life is lived differently from what I have experienced.

But I am often a bit torn when I think of the variety that exists right here in my own country. I’ve spent quite a lot of time over the years taking summer art classes in both Taos and Santa Fe, New Mexico. I grew to love both, and their richness, and would love to revisit these towns and the surrounding areas. I would also enjoy spending more time in Portland, Oregon, a city I have enjoyed both times I visited.

Actually I know very little about most of our country, even though I lived in New York for a few years and also in the Arkansas Ozarks. So more explorative travel in the US is on my plate. 

The three areas outside the US that draw me back again and again are Greece, India and Japan. I would love to spend some more time meandering about and enjoying places I have been and those new to me. The onsens (hot baths) and the old and quaint inns of Japan call to me to come and enjoy them along with the traditional meals (Kaiseki), which I once enjoyed so much. The islands of Greece also beckon, mostly the smaller ones that are not so often visited or do not have airports. Exotic India, full of grace, beauty and color as well as delicious food, is a country and area I can easily enjoy over and over again.

But as I write this other places beg to be considered, such as Italy off the beaten track, a train ride across Canada, and isolated, faraway islands. I love the idea of being on an island and being surrounded by water.

And then there are all my old favorite “friends,” England, Sweden, France and Slovenia. They must be remembered and revisited. So you see the plate is full of more choices than a sushi bar and I am redeveloping a healthy appetite to sample it all.