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Still looking for dream trips

By Jan Wheatcroft

In my younger years, when I traveled and lived in Greece or Israel or spent long periods of time in England and around the United States, I often dreamed about staying in one place and setting down roots. And once I came back to Claremont, and actually did set down roots, I dreamed of traveling. So began my journeys—as often as I could.

Even now, despite being thoroughly settled here, I often fantasize about moving to another state and starting a new life. I do know the difference between my fantasy and my reality and, therefore, have happily chosen to live in Claremont, pursue my art and my writing and be close to good friends. However, I can’t stop traveling. The desire pulses through me. I write this just as I am about to leave for another trip for a month. 

This trip is what I call my “comfort” trip, returning to 2 familiar countries filled with friends and visiting places I enjoy and where I know what to anticipate, as much as one can.

First I fly the nicest airline, Air New Zealand, to London and then fly directly to Sweden where I will stay for a week with dear friends outside of Uppsala in an old red farmhouse near fields filled with cows. Then I go back to London for 3 weeks to visit my good friend and traveling companion, Frances, and many others and stay in the flat I always rent. It is familiar, comfortable and known to me. Of course, there will be new adventures, new things to see, a new baby to be born and a dear friend’s memorial to be celebrated as well as oft-repeated sites to be visited, bookstores to be browsed flea markets and antique centers to be explored.

As I sit here writing, I think of all the places I still want to see. It is like sitting at a table full of delicious food, and as I tuck into each dish I am talking about the next meal and what it might be. So here are a few of the places I would love to go to, either for the first time or to return to for more extensive travel. 

I would love to visit New Zealand and Australia. I know I would only go during their winter as the summer heat is too much. New Zealand appeals to me because as a spinner of wool, I have found their sheep fleece to be of the highest quality to spin. From everything I have seen in photos, the landscape of New Zealand must be fantastic. I have heard that life there is still quiet and much like England 20 or more years ago. I find that appealing. 

As far as Australia is concerned, the area around Melbourne sounds lovely, and the Aussies seem to be very involved in the preparation of food using local fish and vegetables. I’d like to go up north where the great reefs are and do some floating about and looking at all the underwater sites. I’d love to see kangaroos and koala bears and all the other wildlife that we don’t naturally have here. I would also like to see the arts and crafts that are being created as I think the colors and patterns of Australia have an interesting richness and stimulate a great deal of creativity.

I would like to return to Japan but not to the 2 big cities, Tokyo and Kyoto where I have been, but to villages and hot baths and also to travel up north to Hokkaido and see areas where traditional crafts are still being made.

I would love to spend at least a month or more traveling around the US. I would like to go by car and travel on small back roads in the very north and center of the country where I have never been. I would like to get a feel of what small town America is like and how it differs from the area that I live in and know. I would like to visit Chicago and the Great Lakes and go to Vermont and Maine, and get a feel for myself of the variety of this country. It might be as big an adventure as a foreign trip.

I would love to go to India and be back in that colorful, vibrant and varied country. I would like to spend more time in the southern part of the country on both the eastern and western sides. I would like to travel by train. I long for the delicious vegetarian food and the warmth of the people. It is always a place that stimulates my senses. 

I would love to revisit Europe, maybe just meander about by car, canal boat and train, spending time in villages; France, Italy, Holland and Portugal, particularly.  I would like to return to Greece and, besides the island of Skopelos which I love, I would like to explore the northern and wilder regions where I have never been. 

I would also like to go to Myanmar or Burma. I am sorry that I didn’t get to go on this last visit as I was so close. I think I would love the experience and while it is still not a heavily touristed place, I would enjoy seeing things without the floods of tourists.

These are my “dream trips” for the moment. Here I am, ready to embark on a wonderful holiday; my plate is full and I am already planning the next “meal” and the next and the next. And I want you to know that I love being home just as much as I love to travel. I love my house, the familiar streets and places I shop at and visit. I love spending time with my friends, doing my art work, planning fairs, taking walks and yet still dreaming of the world that offers so many adventures and pleasures. I want it all.

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