This month's Ask A Wench question is:
Travel seems to be on everyone’s Wish List these days. If money were no object (and a magic carpet was provided for hassle-free flying) what would be your dream getaway vacation for the summer?
Okay, everyone—fasten your seatbelts!
Nicola: I’ve been doing quite a bit of armchair travelling lately as whenever I turn on my computer I’m presented with “picture of the day” – a stunning photograph of different places all around the world which has added a lot of destinations to my wish list! Lisbon in Portugal would be my top choice for a city break – cobbled streets, markets and medieval buildings. So much history to explore and so many pastéis de nata (those adorable little custard tarts) to eat! I particularly want to visit the Belem Tower which is a 16th century fortification that looks like a great big stone ship.
However, I’m not good with the heat, so in the summer I need to be somewhere cool. This means somewhere like Scotland (an all-time favourite), Norway, or the mountains of France. My DH recently went on a wildlife holiday in the French Alps and although I didn’t fancy photographing butterflies for 9 hours a day, I did have acute holiday envy for the glorious scenery and the flower meadows, not to mention the French cuisine. So I think that would be my choice – up in the high mountains of France with snow on the peaks and the fields humming with gorgeous butterflies. Reading a book as I sit under a tree in the shade would be bliss.
Pat: Oh my, if money and TIME are no object. . . I want to go around the world. But if I only have a few weeks of summer. . . I think I’d like to stay in some lovely manor house in a British village (research, y’know) not too far from London so we can bop in whenever we want. I’ve probably been to England more than any other country, but there’s so much history to soak up, and all those beautiful gardens in summer, and all the places I’ve read about. . . With enough money, perhaps I’d hire a driver and guide to chauffeur us around. I’ve always wanted a driver. And the manor, of course, would come with cook and maid, at the very least. Could I have a tea while we’re there and invite the wenches and readers to talk books? Actually, that might be even more entertaining than a trip around the world!
Susan: Just now, any thought of travel has me longing for a quiet and refreshing change after a few years of more challenges than new scenery. Of course I'd want to go back to Scotland, it's well past time for another visit. Those fun, exciting trips are packed with much to see, do, and research, and I have a long list of places to see again or for the first time. But even with a magic carpet, I'd choose another place right now — a little refresh and renew in a place that feels like home.
I wouldn't need a magic carpet, just enough free time to drive up to Lake George, NY, where I was born and raised. The lake will always feel like home to me, though I haven't been there for several years. Mountain air and the high shoulders of mountain and rock; the scent of pine boughs and pine needles; sunshine and blue skies; cool, fresh lake water swirling around my feet as I sit on a dock near a rental cabin, after a long, relaxing drive north along roads designed and built by my father, grandfather, and great-grandfather with their construction company a long time ago. Though the family is gone, friends are there, and the houses and places we loved are still there too. Lake George is one of the cleanest lakes in the country, a brilliant deep blue on sunny days, and the water lapping along stony shores is soft and clear. I love its pines and islands, the cabins tucked among the trees, its peaceful spirit, the fun of the busy village. I learned to love history up there – Fenimore Cooper's Last of the Mohicans was set there, based on actual history, and I still remember the utter fascination I felt as a kid going around the forts and other places, seeing where incredible things happened, where people lived, loved, fought, and survived long ago. All of that stayed with me and helped me become a historian and a writer. Right now, it would be a soul and creativity renewal, and while life and reality are too busy to allow it yet, a magic carpet might do the trick.
Here's a photo I took from the lakeside road my father designed and built. Once I find time to go north and let the last few years wash away, I would be ready for that dream trip to Scotland, the other place on earth that feels like home to me.
Mary Jo: I've read articles talking about "revenge travel" by people locked down for too long, but it isn't about revenge–it's joyous travel as we once again embrace seeing new places and people.
I do love the idea of a magic carpet! If the journey is long I hope any meals provided will be business class quality, and there will be no jetlag once I arrive! But where to, that is the question? I'm torn between returning to distant places I've already visited and loved, and going to a new place I've always wanted to go.
The places I've been before are an easy choice: Australia and New Zealand, each of which I've visited three times already. (Because if one is traveling to the opposite end of the world, one should visit both marvelous countries!) Australia for sure because I'd love to see more kangaroos and koalas, not to mention visiting Anne Gracie and seeing her wonderful new house!
But a place I've never been? The mysterious, long lost city of Petra in the Jordanian desert. I believe I first read about it many years ago in Leon Uris's novel EXODUS, when a main character described how as young boys, he and a friend made a dangerous, forbidden journey into Jordan to see the legendary "rose gold city half as old as time." Much later, it famously became the site of the grand finale of INDIANA JONES AND THE LAST CRUSADE. The ancient, amazing treasury building is famous and I'd love to see it some day. Calling the magic carpet!
Pia: his question was harder than I thought it would be! There are so many lovely places to go and if hassle-free flying is guaranteed, so much the better. Like Nicola, I’m not a huge fan of heat unless I’m immersed in a swimming pool, the sea or a lake. But for sheer relaxation you can’t beat a holiday in the Mediterranean and my favourite destination is the northern coast of the island of Mallorca. They have gorgeous sandy beaches and hotels with fabulous Spanish food – tortilla or paella anyone? – and plenty of pools and parasols. I would spend my entire time alternating between reading in the shade and floating in cool water. With someone else doing the cooking, I’d soon be very chill!
However, I was also very taken with Iceland last year when I visited for the first time and would love to go back and see the parts I missed then. With a temperature of only around 13 degrees Celsius in June, it would definitely be cool enough for me and if I wanted swimming, I’d head for one of the many hot springs. I only managed to visit the south-western corner so there is plenty more for me to discover.
Still, with a magic carpet involved, I should take advantage and go to really faraway destinations – I’d choose Japan, Australia and New Zealand in that case. In fact, I think I’ll go to all the places I’ve mentioned, and I’d love to bring the other Wenches along. That would be great fun!
Anne: Truth be told, I'm not particularly anxious to go travelling. Mainly because of Covid worries. But since there's a magic carpet, I'm in — or rather on. But as Christina said, having such a wide range of choices, deciding is hard. Like Pat, I'd probably want to head for Europe of the UK. I've always wanted to tour some of the fabulous English gardens, probably starting with Sissinghurst.
And I've always wanted to travel along a large European river by boat, though I'm not keen on large boats and organized tours. Simple and wherever the whim takes me is more my style. And a friend recently returned from Iceland, and I was envious of her seeing the Northern lights and bathing in hot pools in freezing weather. And countries that were once behind the Iron Curtain hold a special appeal — Poland, the Czech Republic (especially Prague) and Slovakia, though it's getting a bit close to the war zone, countries along the Adriatic coast, like Slovenia and Croatia and then, being so close to Corfu, I'd probably want to go there, where I've had such lovely times in the past, and then no doubt I'd be back travelling through my beloved Greece — except no, since we have a magic carpet, revisiting old haunts is out.
I'd love to go to St Petersburg, too, the Venice of the North, though probably not in winter. Maybe late summer, heading into autumn. Then again, I've always hoped to visit north America in autumn and visit forests full of brilliant autumn colour. So there I am, totally unable to make up my mind. I'd probably choose whichever place the wenches all decided to gather — probably in the UK so we could do research as well. That would be a huge treat!
Andrea: Hmm, unlimited budget . . . private magic carpet? I may be gone for a LONG time. I can’t possibly choose just one place, so I’m going to make a few stops on my vacation. First off, I’m heading on safari in Africa to see the Great Migration (and lions!) before that marvel disappears from this earth. Then I’m joining Anne on a cruise down the Adriatic coast, stopping in Corfu, Athens to see the Parthenon and then on to all the other Greek isles, before we head on to a final stop in Istanbul.
The magic carpet will then take me to Tuscany, where I will enjoy a week at a villa looking out at the vineyards of Montepulciano , where I will eat and drink fabulous Italian food and wine every night after exploring Florence, Siena (and hiking the lovely hills to burn off all those calories!)
So what about you? If money were no object and the magic carpet was at you beck and call, where would you go for a dream vacation?