By Maureen Hart
I thought I’d follow up last month’s column, which was places I recommend you to visit, with my own bucket list of places I’ve never been, as well as places I’d never visit again.
- Greece and the Greek Isles would be tops on my list. I have the most romantic vision of Athens and Mykonos, Santorini and Crete, Rhodes and Olympus. I’m drawn not only to the ancient architecture and monuments, but to the deep turquoise seas, the music, that food.
- Provence. I’ve been to Paris and Normandy, but never to the south of France, and I’d love to see the fields of lavender, the Cote D’Azur, the scenery that evokes a Van Gogh painting.
- Scottish Highlands. It has become a joke in my family that one must see the Highlands. In the three days I spent in Edinburgh, every cab driver and waiter asked us the same question: “Have you been to the Highlands?” It has come to encapsulate a never-seen, most-wonderful destination for us.
- The Outer Banks. I’ve been to many beaches, including Waikiki, Acapulco, Rehobeth, Alicante, and Miami. But I’ve never been to North Carolina’s famed Outer Banks, and it remains on my bucket list.
- Cape Cod. I’ve been to the Cape, but only for one brief weekend, and I still remember the quahogs. I don’t know why I have not been back. It’s driving distance, to be sure, and I think I need to return. In the off season.
- Tuscany. Technically, I’ve been there, on a day visit to Florence. I saw the Duomo and the Uffizi Gallery and that should be good enough, I suppose. But I’d love to rent a villa in the hills, with an olive grove and sunflowers, and take day trips to places like Siena or Pisa. Then I’d drive over to Venice, and especially to Verona, because, of course.
- Chicago. I’ve only ever driven straight through this city or transferred planes at O’Hare, which, of course, doesn’t count. I’d love to spend a few days exploring the great city of the Midwest on the shores of Lake Michigan. And I wouldn’t mind watching the Cubs or the Bears if they were in season.
- Seville. I once planned a month-long driving tour of Spain, and of the major cities, I left off Seville, reasoning that it would be easy to book a separate trip to the Costa Del Sol and take a side excusion to the quintessential city of Andalucia. Of course, we never did get back, and every time I see a photo of a Spanish senorita wearing a long mantilla in a horse-drawn carriage in the plaza in Seville, I realize I made a big mistake.
- Brooklyn, New York. Oh, I’ve been to Manhattan countless times, and love it. I’ve driven by the Brooklyn Bridge. But I’ve never been across that bridge to see the borough that has become one of the trendiest places in The Big Apple. I’m not particularly trendy (okay, I’m not even a little bit trendy), but I’d like to try the coffee shops and sit in the parks and maybe catch a play that’s off Broadway but not in the Village.
- Ireland. I don’t know why I never got to Ireland, since I’m part Irish and I love the music, the people and the pictures of the scenery. Maybe it’s nothing like I imagine, but I know I’d love to spend an evening or two or three in a pub listening to Gaelic songs, munching on mussels and drinking Guinness.
There are lots more places I’d like to see, of course, but I realize I won’t get to most of those listed above (Cape Cod and the Outer Banks are possibilities, maybe). And, although I like almost every place I’ve been, there are a few sites I’d skip.
- Dominican Republic. I was probably in the wrong place, and it certainly wasn’t horrible since we were guests of friends staying in a magnificent villa on a golf course. But the juxtaposition of this wealth compared to the lot of Dominicans living in roofless shelters shared with roosters was a bit too drastic. I’m also unused to servants at my beck and call and felt uncomfortable having people waiting on me. Unless I’m in a restaurant.
- Factory tours. In Puerto Rico, it was the Bacardi factory; in Sorrento it was cameos, and in Spain it was leather goods. If you are on a tour that take a little bypass to a factory, chances are you will end up buying something you didn’t intend to purchase. Plus, it takes away from the places you really want to see. The rum factory was no substitute for the beaches, and watching artisans carve cameos was somewhat interesting, but it cost us precious time at Pompeii.
- Shore excursions. The same thing as factory tours. I haven’t been on a cruise in many years, and I did like the two that we booked. There is loads to do onboard the ship, which is much more the point than the stops along the way, which are invariably rushed. To conserve time, we signed up for shore trips sponsored by the cruise lines. These are invariably rip-offs featuring overly sweet punch drinks, floor shows by native dancers, and straw markets. I never saw the beach in the Bahamas, but I did see lots of straw tote bags.
- Boardwalks. I know I’m in the vast minority, but I am not a fan of tacky boardwalk staples such as cheap tee shirts, cotton candy, sticky fudge, amusement rides, and throngs of people.
- Amusement Parks. Yeah, I did them all when our daughter was young, and I felt it was my parental duty to get nauseous on some twirling ride. I did the roller coasters, the merry-go-rounds, the railroad trains. For this I should get some kind of free pass into heaven, because truth be told, I hate amusement parks. I went through a phase where I loved Disney World, because it was much more fun to buy Minnie Mouse caps and ride It’s a Small World than the rides at Dorney or Hershey. We had breakfast with Cinderella – what could beat that if you have to be in an amusement park? But I’ve even reached my limit with the Disney experience, which is a sure sign of growing old. I’d rather read a book by the pool, which probably means I’ve forfeited my free pass…….
- Daytona Beach. Let’s get this straight. I like views of beaches and ocean much more than I actually like being in the sand or getting knocked over by waves. Let’s just say that a lovely deck overlooking the shore is a good thing. That said, I have seen some of the most beautiful beaches in the world and loved them. What I did not like about Daytona was that the sand is hard. Duh, they drive cars on the beach. And they have the Daytona 500 there. And a Biker Week. I hate car races and motorcyles. So, out of all the beaches I can think of, this is my least favorite. One good thing: St. Augustine is very close by, and that’s a whole other story.
- Myrtle Beach. Same as above, only substitute millions of golf courses and seafood buffets for the race cars and motorcycles.