Where Would You Travel If You Could Go Anywhere?
Real Simple readers reveal their must-go-to place.
I would return to Chimanimani, a small village in Zimbabwe that is host to a backpackers' hideaway called Heaven's Lodge. The owner has three pet peacocks that stroll the grounds. The tin-roofed lodge is the town's only hot spot, with natives and visitors stopping in for a beer. I recall waking up to see one of the most beautiful sunrises I have ever laid eyes on. I learned a great deal about humanity there, too. Although their country is impoverished, the people of Chimanimani have positive, hopeful attitudes. Not only did I learn about a land, its people, and its struggle, I also learned about myself.
Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Eight miles away is a cluster of rustic log cabins in the Bighorn Mountains. The air is scented with the deep aroma of pine and moss. There are few modern amenities here―water for the kitchen sink is gravity-fed from a spring. A hike, starting at the kitchen door, leads to the neighboring mountainside and an aspen-shaded pathway. Hidden in the green basin below is a trout stream. Why travel further when we've got it all?
There is a place in Mexico where the monarch butterflies are so abundant that the trees they land on appear to dance with orange fire. To get there, you must hike or ride a burro up a mountain. I'm told the reward is both breathtaking and awe- inspiring.
Champery, Switzerland, is a village nestled in the foothills of the Swiss Alps. Family-owned stores and bed-and-breakfasts line the cobblestone streets. At night you can hear the echo of nearby waterfalls. And if you get up early enough, you can see the most majestic sunrise of your life.
West Lafayette, Indiana
I would go to Australia and spend time on a sheep station. I am a hand spinner and raise sheep for wool and Angora goats for their mohair. I have such a nonstop life here, caring for my two teenage daughters, 14 sheep, three goats, four guardian dogs, six cats (I think), and a hamster, plus working a 60-hour-a-week job. The opportunity to spend a month or so without a stereo or a TV blaring would be heavenly.
I would be on the first Alitalia flight to Italy and then the first train to Florence. My idea of heaven: a three-hour dinner in a trattoria, followed by a stroll through narrow, winding streets, topped off by one last glass of vino in a streetside cafe.
Debora D. Hannigan
My family is saving and planning for two incredible adventures. The first trip will be to Peru, where we'll spend 10 days hiking an original Indian trail over the Andes and then dropping down into the ruins of Machu Picchu. The second will be to the Himalayas, to hike to Mount Everest's base camp.
Battle Ground, Washington
If you had asked me this a couple of years ago, I would have given a typical answer: a tropical vacation or a trip overseas. But now my answer is my hometown, Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. I moved to Denver four years ago and have come to appreciate what home and family mean in the grand scheme of my life.
Stewart Island, the smallest and least populated of New Zealand's major islands, is about 435 square miles of national park. There are hiking trails, birds, gardens, fishing, quiet beaches, and a few guest houses. I was there once in the fall with my mother and was able to go out on a lobster boat. We dropped the cages at various points, drifted a bit with a six-pack of New Zealand beer, and then went back to get the lobsters. It was a peaceful, beautiful time to get to know my mother again after being apart for quite a while. I would love to return.
San Jose, California
Cornwall, UK, in the springtime is beautiful. I love being alone on that cold, gray beach with no one else but the dogs and the gulls around me, then taking a walk along flowered paths, up to cliffs where I can admire miles of sky and ocean.
Regina De Rozario
Eight years ago, I worked the salmon season in a cannery in Alaska. The landscape was spectacular, but I didn't have any leisure time to hike around. I would love to take my partner there for our 10th anniversary and see the northern lights.
Durham, North Carolina
Back in Time
I'd visit the Azores, where my grandparents were born. I would wander the village where they played as children and visit the city hall to gather information on my family's history. I would meet my relatives, learn about the food and traditions, music and dancing. I would discover what it really means to be Portuguese.
El Segundo, California
I would love to travel to Ireland, the home of my father's ancestors. I have been intrigued by Ireland and my relatives ever since I heard the story of how they left their land during the potato famine to come to America; how they changed their family name to an English one to avoid persecution; how they kept faith that this land would bring opportunities to their children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren (me); and how they kept their traditions alive. My father traveled to Ireland three months ago, and he said that he was reminded of me and my spirit around every corner.