Many of our Trilogy Members have traveled the world – several times over! Between family trips, romantic getaways, adventures with good friends, business travel, and journeys of discovery, they’ve experienced the food, drink, scenery, and culture of countless countries.
With so many punches on their passports, most of our Members still have that one special place that stands out in their minds as being their all-around favorite travel experience. Perhaps it is a memorable meal, a breathtaking view, or a warm and welcoming vibe from the locals that makes this destination stand out in their minds. Or, it may be that their eyes and minds were opened in a way that only travel to a new and different land can do.
In this second installment of “The Best Place I’ve Ever Visited,” five more Trilogy Members share memories of their favorite places around the world.
Jane Wallace of Trilogy® at The Vineyards
"Where on earth can you go and experience everything from snow covered peaks and tropical beaches all in one small country? The answer is New Zealand. From the North Island’s tip to the South Island’s rain-soaked fiords, this country, which is 900 miles long by 250 miles wide with a population of only 4.4 million, has it all. After a cruise around the two islands plus an 11-day stay, my husband and I were so hooked on the cultural and geographical diversity of New Zealand that we made a return trip for three weeks just a few years later.
On the North Island, which contains the capital of Auckland with 1/3 of the population, we found the 1,176 foot Sky Tower where people actually paid big money to be rapidly lowered in a harness from the very top to the ground. At the far top of the island, we toured a kauri wood forest, “sandboarded” down dunes, and drove at 60 mph down NZ’s un-official Highway 1 – a 64-mile stretch of hard packed sand, the fastest north/south route on the island. At Bay of Islands, we took a tall ship cruise to a quiet beach. In Rotorua, we visited the bubbling and steaming geothermal features, learned about the Maori culture during a private day tour, and attended a Maori hangi, or feast, one evening. In Whitianga, a town on a beautiful blue bay, we kayaked and carved our own bone Maori necklaces. In the evening, we dug ourselves a pit at Hot Water Beach and soaked in our own private “hot tub”. The vibrant green foliage everywhere reminded us a bit of Hawaii. And that was just the North Island.
You can fly or take a ferry to the South Island. Once there, head west to Marlborough and spend time sampling this wine region’s offerings. If outdoor activity is to your liking, head east to Abel Tasman National Park where you can kayak, hike, swim, and get close to nature. Wellington, the second largest city in New Zealand, is farther down the island but was severely damaged in 2011 by an earthquake and is still recovering. You can explore the snow-covered peaks, which march down the center of the island, or spend a few days staying on a sheep farm in the area where you will learn more than you ever wanted to know about this prime New Zealand industry. The meals we were served everywhere during our two trips never failed to disappoint and by the time we reached the southern tip of the country, taking one of the many different treks or hut-to-hut hiking tours would have been a good idea. The Milford Trek is the most famous. We opted instead for an overnight cruise on Milford Sound. A “sound” is their word for fiord and although it was quite cool and drizzly, we gamely donned rain suits and each paddled a kayak to see the local penguins.
If independent travel is your way to vacation, New Zealand is the perfect place. There are many wonderful museums as well as other destinations and activities I have not mentioned. Whatever you like to do, it can probably be found in New Zealand."
Rich Jacoby of Trilogy® at Vistancia®
"Traveling the world has always been a passion of mine, and I break the world down by favorite cities, favorite countries, favorite scenery, and favorite food.
The number one city for me remains Paris, which I have visited six times so far.
As for the most beautiful city, I’d have to rate Rio above Paris for its scenic beauty.
My favorite country in the world is Italy, hands down. I have visited this country many times, as well.
As for the one place in the world with the most beautiful scenery, while there are so many amazing places, I would rate the Fjords of Norway as number one.
The country in which I had the best food would be India. India is also the country that I found to be the most sensory-stimulating place to which I’ve ever been."
Susan Bluhm of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
"People are often surprised when I tell them that India is one of the best places I have ever visited. Many North American travelers discount India’s place on travel bucket lists, but I encourage everyone to experience it. Endlessly fascinating and impossible to forget, going to India isn’t like visiting a foreign country – it’s more like traveling to another planet! India provides a sensory overload of colorful sights, people, history, culture, spirituality and pure joy. When we visited the Taj Mahal at sunrise (considered perhaps the most perfect architectural monument in the world) it was one of my takes-your-breath-away moments of a lifetime. Go to India. The traditional “Namaste” gesture – two hands joined together in welcome – will warmly greet you."
Tom and Carole Maiello of Trilogy® at Vistancia®
"Our favorite trip was a Regent cruise that we took this past November from Istanbul to some of the Greek Islands, on to Israel (the Holy Land), and the Dead Sea (lowest point on Earth). We then went through the Suez Canal, on to Jordan and Petra, then through the Red Sea to Oman, and finally Dubai (where the highest man made point is located). It was fabulous!"
Daphne Hyde of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
"India had been beckoning me for many years, and I finally had the opportunity to travel to the continent in the mid 1970’s. At that time it still showed some influence of the British Raj. I was called “Mem” or Mem Sahib by the local people, who were pleased yet hesitant to greet me. It was an exciting country filled with memories of bustle and poverty, and yet with wonderful relics from past cultures. Being English I loved the spectacle, as I still had Rudyard Kipling running around in my head in those days."
Bud Barnard of Trilogy at Redmond Ridge
"As an old nonagenarian, I can truly name THE most memorable, outstanding, wonderful trip my wife and I had ever made, which was so long ago now – about 62 years, to be exact – when, it seemed we were both “just kids”! My wife, Bunny, was 26 and I, 31.
In early 1951, shortly after Mahatma Gandhi had been assassinated and greater India had been partitioned into the two countries – India and Pakistan – I had been employed to spend a year performing a survey for oil in Kolkata – then still named Calcutta (its English overlords’ name). It was the predominant city in Bengal, at the south-eastern area of India, right next to East Pakistan, which is now Bangladesh. Calcutta was reputed to have been the second dirtiest city in the world – but we really loved our year’s stay there! It was the same period when Mother Teresa was there, too – though we never happened to meet her. We lived there about a year, learning to speak “Hindustani” and making some wonderful friends!
The starting point of our most wonderful trip came after my survey had been successfully completed, in 1952. (And yes, I did learn – much later – that oil had been found there!)
We’d been married only three years earlier, when we lived in Hawai‘i. We had already made the trip to Calcutta from Honolulu – so we decided that it would be most fun to go home “the other way” – continuing west back to the U.S.
With that decided, first we flew from Calcutta to New Delhi. We didn’t really have much money – so, “on a shoestring,” we “winged it” as we went! Flying was “rush seats” – with everyone literally waiting behind a rope, ready to run for a seat! I ran extra fast to grab two seats side-by-side for the two of us.
In Delhi, we hired a taxi to Agra to see the Taj Mahal – and what a trip that was! A wild ibex came on a collision course down a hedge-row path perpendicular to ours, landing on the taxi’s hood! Further along, we saw natives winnowing wheat the way it had been done in the Bible – tossing the threshed sheaves up in the air – letting the wind blow away the chaff, with the grain falling into a pile below. We had a marvelous visit at the Taj, even getting some beautiful moonlight camera shots of that ancient Shah Jahan’s memorial to his wife. After that, we took a train to Mumbai (then called “Bombay”), where we made new friends who helped us maneuver the red tape for ticketing a flight to Kenya.
In Nairobi, we stayed with old friends I had known in London, in 1937. They took us down into the Great Rift Valley where we saw lions, zebra, giraffe, wildebeest, and many other small animals!
It was then on to Egypt, where, in our ignorance, we landed in Cairo just after King Farouk had been deposed and the English kicked out – ending the British protectorate! Striding through the shell-holed air terminal with no visas, we were fortunate to be allowed in – and were then given visas. We hired a wonderful six-foot-plus guide with a big scar across his face, and he showed us all over Cairo and its sights – the Pyramids, the Sphinx, the King-Tut museum, and the Dead City. We even found a safe hotel in Heliopolis (near where the Holy Family was supposed to have stayed when they fled from King Herod in Bethlehem).
Then, on an inspiration, we flew to Athens for peace and warmth. This was an indescribable, pure delight! We walked all over that gracious city – out to Mars Hill and the Parthenon, and through many, many ancient, fallen temple relics. What was really startling to us was that we felt as if we had “come home!” Athens felt so quiet, so gently welcoming, with a familiar atmosphere such as we had not experienced for well over a year! It was truly awesome!
Then came Rome, with which, we simply fell in love! Oh, how welcoming that was! Again we walked everywhere! Corrupting my Spanish to sound Italian, I’d ask if we could have “only spaghetti” – to which they smilingly assented – and in the evening, buying a loaf of bread, a hunk of cheese, and a bottle of cheap wine – much safer than water! – we hid it all under our coats and scurried up to the 5th-floor cheap “pensione” (where one wasn’t supposed to eat). But the whole city seemed so welcoming, and the atmosphere so warm and embracing! We walked out to the Vatican and, touring through it, saw Peter’s statue next to the walkway, with his toe literally kissed-off! We then found all of the fabulous fountains of Rome, the Coliseum, and all the old ruins.
After Rome, we stopped for a visit in Firenze (Florence), where we marveled at all of the well-preserved art – statues, beautiful historic buildings, and architecture. Then, for sure, we had to make a little stop at Pisa – for the leaning tower!
After that, we were on our way to visit Bunny’s “Grampa Salles” in southern France, just for the fun of it – and out of curiosity. We stopped for a short visit in Monte Carlo – though we were surely NOT trying to win any money gambling there!
With Grampa Salles we toured along the Riviera and he showed us the Mediterranean-to-Atlantic “Canal du Midi.” Near Marseilles, we visited tiny Bedarieux, where Bunny’s “cousins” were sure she would understand French if they raised their voices loud enough! Grampa also took us on a tour through the vineyards, with their immense, thirty-foot-diameter aging-barrels.
Our next stop was Switzerland. We walked out to the Castle of Chillon on Lake Geneva – past swans’ nests right next to the walkway – and, in Montreux, we stayed in the same hotel where I had stayed as a Boy Scout in 1937! We then took the same cog railway through the glorious Alps – such gorgeous mountainsides, past the Jungfrau and the Matterhorn – on to Lucerne, and then Zurich. It was all so picturesque and beautiful! From there, we hopped on a night-train to Paris. We hustled along until we found a car with an empty compartment, closed the door, and each lay flat on the opposite seats – saving a night’s worth of hotel fare!
In Paris, of course we saw the Louvre, Notre Dame Cathedral, and walked the Champs-Élysées (where we saw Clark Gable lounging at a café table!). Continuing our wonderful sightseeing, we saw l’Arc de Triomphe and the Eiffel Tower, and walked along the River Seine and the East Bank.
From there, we took a ferry across the English Channel to the “white-cliffs-of-Dover” and then on to London! We checked out Saint Paul’s Cathedral, and saw the “Changing of the Guard” at Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Westminster Abbey, and the Thames River.
Finally, with tickets in hand, we “flew home” – to New York and the west!"