In case you’re new to Medium Cool, BGinCHI is here once a week to offer a thread on culture, mainly film & books, with some TV thrown in.
Arguments welcomed, opinions respected, fools unsuffered. We hope it’s a welcome break from the world of shit falling on our heads daily in the political sphere.
Tonight’s Topic: Places!
Photo by MissWimsey (Paris 2019)
For this week’s MC (welcome back to Sunday!), let’s talk about places.
Specifically, a place that is significant to you for a reason that might be easy to describe (you met your significant other there, had a profound experience) or difficult (it just feels like where you belong, or you get an ineffable sense of calm). The more specific the better, not just Paris or Canada.
Tell us about the place and what makes it so special.
Update: BG gave us such a nice topic and you all have turned this into such a nice thread – I added a link to this thread in the sidebar under “Special Threads”.
I grew up and spent most of my adult life in the Rio Grande Valley. For much of that time, we could walk or drive across the border to Reynosa or Matamoros and shop, eat, party or just hang out. I remember walking down the sidewalk, smelling the food cooking, hearing the music, bargaining for things to buy, and just visiting with people. It was a welcoming atmosphere and very relaxing. That is not possible any more for a variety of reasons. I miss that feeling so much.
Emma from FL
An t-Eilean Sgitheanach. The Isle of Mists. Known in English as Skye.
The first time I set foot there, it pulled at me. It felt… right. Especially the area around Sligachan Old Bridge, where you can see the Red Cuillin towering over the glen. Marsco is there, the Seagull peak. I could look at it for hours.
And I don’t know why.
The lobby of the Grove Park Inn in Asheville. Instant calm and relaxation.
Gonna get in here early to mention some cafes. As a longtime student & prof, I’ve spent countless hours working in cafes in the various places I’ve lived. Want to list a few here, because why not.
–Blue Cafe (West Lafayette, IN): Gone now, but the first cafe I ever hung out in as an undergrad.
–Athens Coffee House (Athens, GA): worked here in the early 90s. There was another place on Broad St, right across from campus, but it closed in probably 1991. I can’t remember the damn name, but I did sit next to 3 members of the B-52s while they had coffee with Michael Stipe one day.
–Futures Bakery & Cafe, Toronto (a Bloor street fixture, I practically lived at this place and at at least one meal a day there, which was terrific E European food).
–The Butler’s Pantry, Toronto (I spent so much time in this Roncesvalles Ave joint that they put me in one of their newspaper ads).
–Buffalo Cafe called the “something” Cat. I went there a lot and it was great, but the name escapes me.
–Kafkafe (Charlottesville, VA: worked here in the summer of ’92. Cafe and restaurant with a bookstore and reading space upstairs. Waited on Rita Dove many times.)
–Ithaca had a great cafe that was old and I don’t remember the name, but living there was an entirely overrated experience so I don’t really care.
–My Chicago neighborhood, pre-Covid was rotten with amazing places a short walk from my house. Now I just stay home.
There are so many more places, including Cafe Trieste in San Fran, the now-defunct Cafe Lebowitz in Greenwich Village, that I’ve sat at for countless hours.
Measuring my life in coffee spoons.
There’s dreamscapes I keep returning to… but their location is uncertain.
@Josie: When I was maybe 20, several of us drove down to South Padre Island and rented a house for a week, then went to Matamoros. We ate and drank and had a hell of a good time at this really fancy but cheap restaurant, where the waiters wore spotless black & white uniforms.
The Manhattan Beach Pier. I’ve been going there since the early 60’s and I hope to have my ashes thrown off it.
@BGinCHI: In the 70’s we took a couple of buddies down to Matamoros and went back and camped on Padre. It was the first time I fished offshore and I was hooked!
@Emma from FL: Wow. I can really imagine this.
Scotland really floored me with its beauty.
I had a similar experience on a walk from the Cliffs of Moher to Doolin. If you look on the map, you can walk it, but I’m not sure anyone does. I was young and poor and so I walked across all those fields along the edge of the land, amongst the horses and other livestock with not a human in sight. It was magical.
@Phylllis: I love Asheville and have been fantasizing about slipping away from here for a long weekend there…..
But sadly, with Covid, I’d just rent a place and keep to myself.
@Josie: My MIL lived in Edinburg so I’m familiar with that part of the valley. I do love the smell of street food.
I was a Navy brat so I have always missed the smell of salt water. We did venture over to So. Padre a few times and for me that is total relaxation.
Charleston in the mid to late eighties; the upper end of King Street was all run down & sketchy. There were lots of nooks & crannies where you knew you could find a parking space. The old market had lots of cool stalls with local, real artisan stuff. You could get sweetgrass baskets for a song. Now they’ve disneyfied it, enclosed it & added air conditioning and it’s filled with crap you can get in any mall. And the price of sweetgrass baskets are through the roof. A lovely, sort of decrepit old southern city ruined by too many tourists and too much money.
North Beach, San Onofre, Old Man’s, and Hole in the Fence; all local spots back in the day.
The first time I went to NYC, it felt like home to me. For someone who grew up in the far west suburbs of Pittsburgh, it was a weird feeling but my spirit felt it from the first moment I stepped off the plane and got a cab. I was 20 yo and meeting up with my long time boyfriend (high school through his graduation and later mine and then his years in college and photography school in Santa Barbara). He was living in NY after a year’s apprenticeship in Paris to a major photographer whose name I have forgotten. I was there for our first visit since he came back to the States. It was magical. We went to punk clubs and jazz clubs and Zabar’s and the famous photographer’s studio in the Empire State Building and walked in Central Park and ate in little bistros and Little Italy and shopped at Gimbels and Macy’s. It was like an extended mashup of every scene in Sex in the City where Carrie expresses her love for NYC. Airfares were cheap then, so I spent several years flying back and forth, frequently. I have been back numerous times over the many years since (more than forty years now!?!?!?!) and I have never lost that feeling that NYC was where I was supposed to be. Maybe before I die I’ll find a way to make that happen.
Yup, and I’ll bet they treated you like royalty (or family). Waiters in Mexico were second to none. Don’t know if they are still like that or not. We have found a small family Mexican restaurant here in Houston that has a similar atmosphere.
Not to go all Pollyanna, at any given moment wherever I happen to be.
@raven: I’d throw you off now, but I have a busy week coming up.
@raven: It used to be really chill and wild down there.
Guessing it’s more built-up now…..
@NotMax: Funny, you don’t look buddhist. . .
@Josie: I have family in Houston, so please feel free to name it.
@BGinCHI: The whole gulf coast is fucked.
@Phylllis: Oh, lord do I wish I’d seen that. My favorite vibe.
I’m so glad I got to hang out in NYC in the 80s before Rudy Fucking Giuliani ruined most of it.
I stay for the snark.
@BGinCHI: The Globe
The belly is the giveaway.
Ha! Yes! Me too.
@geg6: That sounds like Heaven.
The name is Juarez. It’s on Gessner, north of I10.
My dad grew up in Naperville, IL and was born at home in a bedroom in their house. In the 1980s, someone bought the house and turned it into a bed and breakfast. When my mom died in 1985, we rented the whole place for my sisters and I and their 5 girls. Because of the family connection, the proprietor didn’t even stay there so we had the whole house to ourselves.
I was daddy’s girl, and from the second I walked into that house, I swear I felt more “home” there than I did even in the house that I had lived in for 5 years. I felt this calm come over me and I felt like I belonged there.
@geg6: I totally get this.
I first went when I was 21. My dad died suddenly in Oct and I bought a ticket and spent Dec and part of Jan there sleeping on friends’ couches. All I did was walk and explore. The energy was unlike anything else I’d ever felt. It probably kept me alive, TBH.
We’ve been going down to the Mayan Riviera to a small town for the last few years and it’s very similar. SUCH NICE PEOPLE.
(with apologies to MGM)
Snark Gratia Snarkis
@raven: I was afraid of that…..
@Baud: I added a couple of your Baud-isms to the rotating tags today.
Shiloh Street, Pittsburgh, right outside the post office. It’s where I realized I really loved my girlfriend at the time. Thirty-seven years later, she’s making paprikash in the kitchen, and we still sometimes talk about walking down Shiloh.
Public Beach Access 12 to the beach on Stickney Point at Siesta Key at sunset. When it’s not a pandemic, you can walk back to the bars after the sun goes down.
The Bohemian Grove. West County Sonoma County in general is fantastic. I worked and lived at The Grove for 5 summers. The nine days before the members show up are amazing, basically having the entire place just for me and my crew. Gorgeous, ancient redwood forest, an overwhelming sense of grandeur. There’s a crazy sense of timelessness and history there, old campground buildings from 100 years ago. A hundred year old Bernard Maybeck lodge. It’s so easy to relax on a log under a 200 foot redwood canopy. Then you might hear Toccata and Fugue blasting through the woods from the outdoor pipe organ.
Then the Bohemians show up and it gets weird.
@raven: Yes! What was the lady’s name who owned it? Marcy?
She was so great. My friends Catherine and Michelle worked there.
@WaterGirl: My god, that’s lovely.
Chistyi pereulok in Moscow. I’ll probably never see it again. But it’s where dear friends had their studio, and I always got such a warm feeling when I reached that street.
Doesn’t Cole have to approve them?
@BGinCHI: Terry and Randy, my buddy Tim has a piece too. I assume you knew Patrick and Lawrence as well?
@WaterGirl: I did not know you had Naperville connections. After my husband died, I moved there and lived on North Avenue, upstairs in a really old house across from North Central College, while I studied at NCC. Is that BnB in the historic district there?
@Baud: I had sent about 40 rotating tags to him 3 different times, in the last 2 months, asking if I could add those. I finally bugged him one more time on the phone today, and he said okay. So we have a ton of new rotating tags. At least two were yours.
@BGinCHI: A worthy read and it’s UGA Press!
Harvey Jackson’s Redneck Riviera is pure delight. From the Gilded Age resort hotels and the first mom ‘n’ pop motels, to Spring Break, mullet-tossing contests, and the 2010 Gulf oil spill, Jackson chronicles the booms and busts that have shaped his beloved Gulf Coast. He has the keen detachment of a historian and the passion of someone who cares deeply about sand dunes and honky-tonk bars.
Interesting coincidence. We used to vacation in Cozumel when the kids were young, and that was the second place I would have mentioned.
I moved out of NYC 25 years ago and I still miss it. No other place like it. There’s nothing you can’t find there. You may not know the people around you, but there’s a kind of camaraderie you’ll never find anywhere else.
And I wish I could see Novo-Devichy Convent once again.
It was. And has been every time I go there. I still meet up with the old boyfriend for lunch or dinner when I can get there. Once, he took me to one of Mario Batali’s places where we got to have our meal in the kitchen as he cooked for us, a true chef’s tasting. Mark had done all the photography for his cookbooks. He was very nice and I was shocked when MeToo# got him. I had no clue. The food was fantastic.
I’ll try to spot them.
Back in the early 90s, I had a bit of an early mid-life crisis, so I decided to move to Anchorage AK from Portland OR. I left my three kids with my sister, got on the Amtrac up to Seattle (crying the whole way), took the MarkAir to Anchorage (crying the whole way) and landed at the Anchorage Youth Hostel. It was pot-luck night, but I didn’t have time to find a store and prepare anything, so I volunteered to wash dishes. Around the dinner table were people from all over the world. In particular, there was a super cute guy. Let me just say, I cried for 12 hours over leaving my kids in Portland – I did not look good. Two girls, Elizabeth and Beatrice from Switzerland were sitting on either side, vying for his attention. After dinner, the cute guy came out to the kitchen to help me with the dishes. His name was Matthew and he baked bread for the potluck. This made him what we called back in the day a “SNAG” (sensitive new aged guy). He invited me out for a walk the next evening, which I accepted. Did I mention he was cute? Holy cow! Super good looking and super nice. Anyway, on the walk-date, I thought “is he the one?” It turned out that “yes, he is.” He thought the same (he later also confessed) although there is an age difference (he’s younger), I mentioned having three kids and I did not finish university. Just to be fair and straight about my situation.
I found a job and the hostel was happy to have all the kids with me. I went back to Portland after about a month to pick up the kids. The hostel rules required quiet after 10pm, so everyone sat in the dark living room, just waiting for me and the kids to arrive. Such a welcoming for these kids from people who were essentially strangers. These were just great people. So, longish story short, married now for almost 25 years, (mostly happy). Kids were over the moon to have an awesome step-dad. I did eventually get my Bachelor of Science from University of Alaska-Anchorage. I wouldn’t really have a story without my northern adventure- it opened all the doors for me.
New Orleans. First went for Jazz Fest 1996 and it made me smile to my core. My now wife and I try not to return to places because there are too many places to see, but we return. It’s one of a few cities in the US that feel unique. NYC, Vegas, NOLA. Any others?
@BGinCHI: yes. First place I was ever happy to see a cop in 1985 Times Square.
I was in Leningrad as a tourist just as the old Soviet Union was coming apart at the seams. One morning I was walking along the North bank of the Neva River looking at a number of the pastel-colored buildings on the South bank through the mist rising off the Neva. The whole scene was illuminated by diffuse light as the morning sunlight was scattering off the mist. It was very evocative and the best way I can describe it is to say that it looked like an impressionist painting come to life. I’ll never forget that.
@raven: You’re talking about the Globe Pub. I was talking about that cafe around Broad & Lumpkin. Wasn’t too fancy.
I knew Lawrence Shine really well and hope he’s still above ground.
The city of Funchal is the capital of the island of Madeira, which belongs to Portugal. The oldest street (one of them, at least—it dates back to the 1400s) is Rua de Santa Maria, which runs from the center of the Old Town up a hill to the Santa Maria Maior church. My wife and I visited Madeira a few times, once staying a month in a rental apartment about a block away from the church. Most days we’d walk down the hill, past all the shops and cafes and such, and explore the town. I was writing a book, and my wife had brought along a crochet project, so we’d stop for hours at a time and work, and people watch. We’d also make day trips elsewhere but often landed at the end of the day in one of the pubs in Zona Velha, where we got to know one of the proprietors (a transplant from Brazil).
Our last visit was in 2012, I think. The city started a project called the Art of Open Doors in 2014, which you can google to see street art, most of it on the street we used to walk along, and some of it present a few years before the official start of the project.
The general area holds good memories for me.
@raven: Will check this out. Thanks!
O. Felix Culpa
The Camino Frances. I walked from St. Jean Pied de Port to Santiago in 2015. Every day was an adventure: new places, new people, new experiences. You experience a place differently when you traverse it on foot. It was also liberating. My only responsibilities were to walk and find a place to sleep and a glass of vino tinto to drink in the evening. Plus Spain. If COVID ever ends, I will do it again.
@MagdaInBlack: I am going to guess that the answer is yes, but I am not 100% sure. I stayed there again a few years ago, and downtown Naperville was within walking distance of the house.
Does that tell you anything?
@Josie: We go to Akumal. Rent a condo on the beach. Really fabulous.
So many resorts though, now. Not a fan of those.
@BGinCHI: Ah, the hippie joint, can’t recall the name but I’ll get it.
@Kim Walker: That makes this thread worth the doing.
Thank you for that.
I’ll be back….I think I got something in my eye.
South Rim of the Grand Canyon – February 1993
It was a clear and reasonably warm day but there was a foot of snow still on the ground. In the winter, there is a section of road further west along the Rim that is normally closed during high-season. I took it.
Late in the afternoon there was one other car but they soon left and I had the place all to myself and my thoughts. I sat on the edge of the Rim and, looking back up the Canyon to the east, watched the colors change as the sun went down. It was a spectacle.
As dark fell, I hauled out my camp burner and made coffee. The stars came out (Oh, buddy did they!) and I sat drinking coffee while soaking up the utter solitude. There was literally no one else around for miles.
Then, I realized that I could hear the river, a mile below. I sat there, listening for over an hour, and was awestruck. The stillness, isolation, and glorious night sky combined to make the place and the experience unforgettable.
Another prosthetic NYer here. Great place for my ashes to catch back up with the rest of me. ‘Nuff said.
@Baud: When you open BJ or refresh a page, it picks up 24 of them and rotates through them. If you don’t refresh, it just starts the 24 again in the same order. Until you refresh the page, and then it grabs another random 24.
Want to go there, NOW.
Crete was similarly amazing, in ways I won’t be able to capture here. It’s probably the most profound place I’ve ever been.
@WaterGirl: Yes, same area. Lots of big old Victorians, many owned by folks from Lucent, which was a big deal then. DT Naperville mere blocks away.
I picked it for the college and the Metra 3 blocks away, so I could get into Chicago every weekend. Lovely area to live.
The grounds of the Santuario de Nuestra Senora de Guadelupe in Santa Fe. I just wanted to sit there in the sunshine and look at the flowers and the blue sky and the adobe walls. Very peaceful.
Should you find yourself in the area, tucked away within whispering distance of the middle of nowhere in the Poconos (for over a century) is St. Tikhon’s monastery. #1 – #2
The Mission in SF in the 90s. Almost everyone that I’m good friends with I met there, or through a friend from there. Everything was cheap, tons of cool little shops, you could buy valium over the counter at the salvadoran market down the street. Everyone knew everyone. Great bars and venues, and restaurants, and house parties. I mentioned cheap. It’s radically different now, but I still run into people that I’ve known for 30 years.
Huck Finn doughnuts on Archer and Damen. Landmark of my youth and first car. Sneaking out from the southside to the northside where all the gay bar were located. Hubby and I still go there 40 years later.
Well, maybe just a little taste. It’s the rhythm:
who did the music for Love the Hard Way.
@Josie: Thank you Passed it on.
Emma from FL
@BGinCHI: Skye is stunning. It caught me by surprise because I am a born-and-bred flatlander. But there’s something about it… I went on on a photo trip once. The best vacation I ever had.
Northern New Mexico. The mountains around and east of Taos are my happy place.
Because I spent so much of my childhood rough camping way up north in Canada, granite, pine, water, rocky shorelines….whenever I go north ( the UP and Northern Minnesota) and start to see that type of landscape, I feel like I’m coming home.
@Heidi Mom: I’m partial to a few games of pool at the Cowgirl Hall of Fame in that fair city.
@Craig: Cuban-American Club?
Bourg, France, a 45-minute drive east and across the Gironde/Dordogne river from Bordeaux. Heart of wine country. Bourg is at least 400 years old and I have an old map to prove it. Back across the river is the Médoc region. An hour east is St.-Émilion, which is like Disneyland or Lourdes, but for wine.
I am fortunate to live in Amsterdam, but there’s one thing I really miss, and it’s tides, because those don’t exist behind the dikes. The river level varies by at least 10 feet, sometimes 15-18 during a king tide and when the wind is blowing upriver. There’s also a tidal bore and I’m told there’s surfing using towards the mouth, near La Rochelle. I love sitting by the river watching the tide roll in or out. All along the shore are short piers with fishing cabins that have fishing nets dangling from therm. I lived in New Orleans when very little and similar “camps” on Lake Pontchartrain evolved over the decades into massive lake houses.
The missus has an old friend who lives there and we try to visit once a year. We made it this summer between COVID waves. The French were taking it much more seriously than the Dutch, until the bars closed a few days ago.
Iconic NYC music, massacred.
@BGinCHI: Where Hanks Seafood is now at the corner of Hayne and Church Street was the Garden & Gun Club, which was one rocking place. My first exposure to gay people. I had more fun in that place than should have been allowed. Here’s a great story about how it really changed downtown.
@Steppy: In the 70s I went to New Orleans to buy some dope. Can’t remember the neighborhood but it seemed like there was a bar on every corner. Nothing like this Tennessee boy had ever seen, and I didn’t even drink then. I’ve been going to NOLA for various reasons ever since. I love Jazz Fest! Yeah, it’s overgrown but it’s still amazing.
I really enjoyed walking around that city and wish I’d had more time.
South of the Dordogne is much more familiar to me (south and east of Toulouse). Spent a lot of time hacking around the small towns there.
@BGinCHI: Latin American Club? Yeah, great place still. Known the owner since the second day they were open. I lived down the street.
@Phylllis: That sounds like my kind of place!
I need a tour of Charleston that roots out some stuff no outsiders know about….. The touristy places are fine, but I know there’s got to be lots of other stuff.
A Ghost to Most
Favorite place: San Juan Mtns
2nd place: Cape Breton Island
Favorite city: Tie Sydney/Melbourne, Oz
@HinTN: This starts out like a Charles Portis novel.
@O. Felix Culpa:
You got that right:
@Craig: I ate at a place next door. Can’t remember the name, damn it. Mark Eitzel used to show up and when we were there we’d always watch out for him.
I loved the Bottom of the Hill club down on 17th, too.
Charleston in 71/72 was, as those things go, not bad. Stationed there, ship at the naval base, which is now gone. Now if your skin was a tone or 12 darker than my pasty white, it was not very good duty at all. On the other hand there were a couple of fish restaurants that were great and actually affordable – once or twice a month.
@BGinCHI: The Cliffs of Moher are stunning but my Ireland happy place is Killarney National Forest. I went horseback riding there one early November morning. With the mist coming off all the lakes and the brilliant Ireland green trees, it was the most beautiful morning I’ve ever had.
Just of of curiosity (and realize it’s Belgium, not Holland) ever been to the Vlooyberg Tower?
@Bluegirlfromwyo: I’ve never been, but I can picture it. It’s such a beautiful country.
When I was there I was lucky to get sort of adopted by a family from Belfast who I met in a bar in Galway City. They toured me all around Ulster and it was stunning. I was also invited to a Belfast catholic wedding, but you’ll have to wait for my memoirs to find out about what happened that night.
@WaterGirl: Thank you!
I just opened a new tab to look at them. It looks like a front-page refresh gets one around a dozen tags that cycle through one at a time, but then repeat. To get a new list, one must refresh the page.
It’s nice to see new ones. We seemed to be stuck in the mid-to-late 2000s for a while! ;-)
J R in WV
This describes Key West to a Tee. We lived in Key West for 2 years, (1971-2) I was stationed there in the Navy. It was a wonderful fairyland. Jimmy Buffet and Jerry Jeff Walker were playing bars for drinks and tips. We got to know great people right off, by being helpful and friendly.
Then we went back just a few years ago, rented a nice bungalow with bicycles. It was terrible. All the nice cafes and restaurants were gone, replaced by tee shirt shops. All the Conch houses were turned into high end AirBNBs. We didn’t have a good time, and won’t be back.
Time waits for no one. And in Key West you can know that in your bones. Same is true on most of the barrier islands up the East coast from Key West. Once wonderful, now overrun rat traps. Sad!
@BGinCHI: That’s far better than I could have hoped.
Would that photographer be Robert Doisneau?
@BGinCHI: probably Boogaloos on the corner. That was the thing about that neighborhood, still is sometimes. Mark hung out all around there, Jonathan Richman plays at the Makeout Room down the street. Ralph Carney playing in a tiny bar with PJ Harvey’s guitar player. Great times.
O. Felix Culpa
@HinTN: That’s a new one to me. Thanks for the introduction!
@BGinCHI: The Tours by Foot folks are in Charleston now. I’ve done a couple of their tours in DC and their guides do a great job of going beyond the canned bullshit.
@NotMax: Oh dear. The very names fill one with dread.
@Ruckus: The damn Cooper River bridge was the steepest thing I ever tried to drive up and over. Of course, it could have been the acid…
@Phylllis: The Eastern Market and Adams Morgan areas of DC were like that in the 90s. I miss those days. Sometimes I wonder if there will be Covid flight from cities that will bring them back someday. Too many cities have been disneyfied IMO.
In the 80s I had a customer from Mexico who always came up to the shop in LA. Then one time he needed me to come to his place in Mexico. One factory was in Tijuana so I rode down on my bike. We went to lunch at a restaurant a ways from the tourist area and the waiters were as described. Great food and I don’t think I’ve ever felt more welcome and satisfied.
For me it has to be a tiny town tucked in the Canton of Vaud in Switzerland. I spent a year there at a small commune after I graduated college, trying to “find myself and the meaning of life” (lol). The combination of the spectacular natural beauty of the Alps (white capped mountains of blue, surrounded by green hills, cow bells gently clinking) and the peaceful rhythm of life in the village still speaks to me 20+ years later. I happened to be there when 9/11 happened, and the experience of watching those events play out on CNN while being in the most peaceful place on early was…surreal.
@Craig: I loved the vibe and the food/drinks there, for sure.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
Greenwich Village, New York City. Specifically Washington Square Park and a nearby cafe called Caffe Reggio in the West Village. Both places are interwoven with us and multiple generations of our family. My wife and I had many coffees at Reggio almost from the day we met 42 years ago, and still go there at least once every time we hit NYC, and we also have many memories of the Park, of walking around it, of seeing the street entertainers and of the things that change and the things that never change. I think the same tumbling act has been performing there for at least 20 years, and I think the same guy has been doing the sand paintings under the arch for almost that long. Along with the same musicians hanging out by the arch and jamming and singing.
It was also an important place for my mother-in-law, who was attending NYU (New York University, whcih surrounds the park) in the days when Timothy Leary was in the park preaching “turn on, tune in, drop out”. And so (because of her mom, not because of Leary) my wife spent a lot of time in that area as a child.
And then my daughter went to school in NYC and worked at Reggio as a waitress, adding another generational connection.
@Bluegirlfromwyo: I miss Eastern Market!
Spent a lot of time there from ’99-2000.
@Kim Walker: That is one of the most heartwarming stories I’ve ever heard. Thank you so much for sharing it.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: I LOVE Caffe Reggio! Iconic, perfect cafe.
No. Damn, I wish I could remember his name. I’ll have to dig out my letters from Mark when he was in France before it drives me nuts!
@NotMax: heh. I haven’t. There are a couple of staircases to nowhere in NL that I’ve been by but not on. I have been to the Verbeke Foundation, a scraggly wooded area along the highway (sorta) between Antwerp and Ghent and owned by a guy who made a fortune in cranes or something like that. It’s got weird architectural installations (some habitable) on the grounds and a main hall with equally weird artworks, some featuring pickled animal parts, also a wind turbine blade.
I love the restaurants on that street (8th ?) back behind the metro stop. I’ll take the train across town just to walk back there for late lunch or early supper. Architecture’s nice, too.
@J R in WV: I’m a Florida native, grew up near Tampa. The Florida of my youth is long gone and it makes me wistful. Victor Nunez’ films take me back to that time, especially Ulee’s Gold and A Flash of Green .
J R in WV
Santa Fe, Taos, tiny towns in Navajo Nation. Asheville, NC, some of the East coast beach islands are still nice, even though I dumped on them earlier.
Folks decamped Iowa for Seattle and at some point the family took the drive up to the park and the Sunrise Visitors Center [not my photo]. The mountain simply looms in front of you and an Iowa kid has no tools to process that. Magic.
That began the slow draw mountains have had on me ever since. And on the rare clear days the mountain was visible from our house and I’d go on the roof (don’t tell dad) to get the best view. I have been to many amazing spots in the Sierra Nevada but nothing to match the overwhelming presence that is Rainier. (Sorry y’all will never see the glaciers in their earlier form, or wander the Paradise Ice Caves.)
@Bluegirlfromwyo: It really was my pleasure. As I was writing, I thought “wow! this really is Cinderella, but without the stupid tiara and the evil stepmother.” We’ve been lucky that way. Thanks again.
@HinTN: Portions of the old bridge were still standing when they opened the Ravenel bridge. I remember looking at them thinking, ‘Damn, I drove on that? Sometimes not altogether sober?’
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@BGinCHI: There was a time when “espresso” and “cappucino” were rare exotic things. Reggio was the only place I ever had them up till some time in the 80s.
I remember the first Starbucks I ever saw in New York. For awhile the only one I knew was that one, around 47th and Broadway I think.
@J R in WV: Was in Asheville earlier this week. Ate lunch at a Mediterranean restaurant. Damn good food and the street ambience was really nice for a Tuesday.
Chincoteague Island. We went there for our honeymoon, and I’ve returned every year. It’s a mostly quiet, laid-back beach town (if you avoid Maddox Blvd), with a charming, historic downtown. And the Wildlife Refuge and beach on Assateague Island are superb.
Zanzibar. I went there a couple of years ago. So old and weird and cool. It’s where I discovered that you can direct message on IG. I’d been working in Tanzania and posted that I was headed to Zanzibar. When I got to my hotel WiFi I discovered a DM from an old friend, she was on the other side of the island, and headed my way. So we got to just explore for a few days. Dinner at an stunning rooftop restaurant when the call to prayer echoes all around us. Just a mystical, intoxicating, relaxing time.
Hey, BG, this is great! Thanks
Trivia: The ceiling fan there was originally a prop in Casablanca.
@BGinCHI: ‘94-96 for me. I lived in NE between Union Station and H Street then.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym:
You might know that the Cafe Reggio location had a cameo in the original Shaft, and was the namesake of maybe the best piece of a great soundtrack:
Was at the south rim 10 yrs later and it was still a great place. Got to see elk up closer than I actually wanted to. Walking through the center of the park, where the worker housing is, a group of kids playing about 50 or so feet from me, they all got real quiet and started walking away. I don’t look that scary so I wondered what’s going on, turned my head about 90 deg right and standing about 15 ft away was a male, full grown elk. Shoulder ht was above my head and his antlers were freaking huge. I decided to follow the kids lead and walk away. Still, not every day you get that close to a wild animal that size. And actually not get eaten.
Hard to choose, but my vote for the town with the best sense of place is Stonington, Maine. It is at the tip of Deer Isle, about an hour south of Rte 1, so it is off the beaten path. It is a working lobster fishing town with few places to stay. The sunset view of the harbor is amazing, and it is surrounded by islands, including the beautiful Isle au Haut, so the kayaking opportunities are endless. It has not changed much in the years we have been going there, and I hope it stays the same forever.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@prostratedragon: I did not know that. Never saw “Shaft”, now I have to check it out. It already was on my Big List of Movies I Really Mean To Watch Someday.
The only time I knew of it being on film was in “Next Stop, Greenwich Village”. I think there are a bunch of scenes there. I was always fascinated that they could shoot a movie there because it’s such a tiny cramped little place.
L’Aquila, Abruzzo (Italy), before the earthquake. Medium-sized (~50,000) university town in the foothills of the Appennines. Robust, stick-to-your ribs cuisine, bracing alpine weather, genuinely warm people, and a paucity of international tourists (just about all the tourists who go to L’Aquila are themselves Italians). Surrounding countryside featured in the George Clooney flick “The American.”
There were supposed to be 24, but maybe they dialed it back to 12 and didn’t tell me. I haven’t counted since the site rebuild.
There are definitely 24.
It does occur to me that some of the longer ones may be an issue on mobile, so I look forward to the mobile peeps pointing those out to me. :-)
P.S. Yeah, John doesn’t get some of the new ones because he doesn’t spend enough time here to see them when they are “born”.
There’s something about Conwy in Wales, the Isle of Iona and Oban in Scotland that felt like home for me.
@J R in WV:
Have only been to Santa Fe once, for the day, and it really did feel special, magical even and not in that hippie way. Steamboat Springs, Breckenridge and Estes Park, CO, as well. The quality of light in Steamboat gave me photos I’ve never replicated.
Leavenworth, WA if it hasn’t become too touristy. Carmel By-the-Sea, CA when it’s not overrun by tourists is a special spot. Ashland, OR, Valley of the Rogue. And oh, Crater Lake. It’s a crime to plow through life and not see Crater Lake. Trust me.
Mitchell, South Dakota, home of the Corn Palace. Okay, maybe one’s just delirious from the drive east on I-90.
The family cabin I spent every July and August at in my childhood at, in the Warner Valley in northeastern CA. Our acre borders on Lassen National Park, and it holds my idea of paradise.
My siblings and I still use it, and I get a week or two there most years (not this one, of course). I am my most calm and most happy there still. One week a year of simple happiness.
it helps that there is no phone or internet service there.
@zhena gogolia: Sea Ranch, hell yeah!
@Ceci n est pas mon nym
Also appeared in The Godfather II.
I’m going to go with the acid as I don’t recall it being that out of the ordinary.
@SFBayAreaGal: Conwy is special. I’ve been going back ever since my first visit there on 1982.
Lots of great stories here. Thanks everyone.
Probably the most memorable restaurant I recall (at the moment) is in Carmel, CA. It’s run by a very ebullient family and they seem to genuinely want everyone to have a wonderful time. Really great food too.
Too many awe-inspiring places to name just one. Let’s see…
When I was in grad school in Cincinnati, I would often drive up to Dayton to see a friend from high school and we’d go to the Oregon District to a bar that had live music and battle-of-the-band nights. (It seems to be gone now and I don’t remember the name.) One of them I remember was the “Bad Elvis Impersonators”. They didn’t have a drummer (just drum machines), and didn’t dress up as or play Elvis songs (they were really bad impersonators, like they weren’t even trying), but they were lots of fun. “Dancing Giant Birdcage Monster” was one of their songs. There was also some punk trio [might not have been a trio, now that I think about it] that was memorable. The singer had the band’s name tattooed across his chest, the drummer had the bass drum chained down to keep it from moving while he wailed on it, etc. Great energy! :-)
A Ghost to Most
Calwood (Boulder) fire news: Denver Post reporting large number of structures lost. Not surprising, as this is a well populated area. Fire also in Lefthand Canyon now.
Oh, I love places. Bookmarking this to come back to for reading when I have more time (i.e. not when I have a zillion student papers to read). LOVED that photo at the top too!
J R in WV
When my ship was sent to the shipyard in Pascagoula MS from Key West, wife and I drove from Key West to Pascagoula in our ’62 Fury, towing a uhaul trailer.
This was before interstates were the way to go, and so we drove through tiny fishing villages. This was in early 1972.
Miles of sawgrass swamps, replaced by high-rise condos now. When a hurricane hits miles of swamp, no damage is done. That was then, this is now.
This has been such a wonderful thread! Thanks BG for starting it and everyone for their stories. It’s a great spirit lifter!
@Phylllis: His first film, Ruby in Paradise, is one of my faves. Ulee’s Gold, too.
The San Juan Mountains in southwestern Colorado are my happy place even though, since moving from Durango, I rarely get to go back. I discovered Telluride before Zoline did, when buildings on Main Street could be bought for a few hundred dollars in back taxes. Rugged peaks, great Jeep roads, old mines…heaven for me for sure. Access to Abbey’s deserts and canyons further to the west in Utah was just a bit of lagniappe.
@Tom Levenson: Before my grandfather died, my extended family (huge, my dad is the 6th of 8 kids) would spend 4th of July at Deerhaven Lodge in the Big Horn Mountains. The cabins were dumps but the scenery and fishing were incredible. Your place sounds familiar in a way.
@NotMax: I am NOT surprised.
@HinTN: Full-service blog, my friend.
Bit of a downer but Dozinghem Military Cemetery, Belgium. My late brother and I visited it to see the grave of a Great Uncle we didn’t even know we had until I started researching our family history.
It was very peaceful and the Commonwealth War Graves Commission maintains the graves and the Cemetery excellently.
What stands out for me though was picking up the bus afterwards. It was due to stop in Poperinge but, after hearing why we were there, the driver very kindly offered to take us all the way through to Ypres so we could get a direct train back to Ghent.
He was such a nice man and I will always remember his kindness.
For me, it’s always been the Jersey shore. I’ve been going to the shore since I was 3 months old and it’s always been my happy place. I feel very fortunate to live where I’ve always been happiest. Nothing like hearing the waves lull you to sleep.
I do like that area (when it’s not on fire). Once spent time at a ranch south of the park, friends of friends kind of thing–big July 4th blowout with dozens of acquaintances camped at sites scattered around the property. Mill Creek runs through the parcel and in a meadow below the main house they installed a swimming pool fed by creek and hot springs water. Via valves one could dial in any temperature they wished, year round. Our friends would go there in winter, camp in the meadow, go XC skiing then come back and soak in the pool to warm up.
Standard Oil money plays some part in this tale.
I hope you give it a try some time; I would enjoy reading your piece.
My memories of Crete are wonderful, though I wish I’d learned more before visiting. Walking through the remains of the labyrinth in Knossos was… I don’t know—I wanted to be imagining the Minotaur, but the ruins were only barely suggestive. I wasn’t disappointed, but I just didn’t know enough to appreciate what I was seeing. The cave of Zeus was impressive, my first visit to such a place, and it made me want to visit other caves of historical or mythological significance.
Ooh, memorable restaurants?
Keeler’s in Albany, NY (gone)
Charlie’s Cafe Exceptionale in Minneapolis (gone)
The Waterfront in Maalaea, Maui (gone)
Patrick’s Pub in Little Neck, Queens (gone)
Joe’s Place in Reading, PA
El Parador in NYC (Manhattan)
Shall stop before the list grows like Topsy.
Berkeley. I came here to go to college in 1969, and never left.
There are many small, richly-detailed pieces of the the town. All the cafes. A walking tour of all the places that Philip K. Dick lived, with a stop for Ursula Le Guin’s childhood home. Ground zero of the California food movement. Ground zero of the free speech movement (whenever I see the acronym FSM, my mind parses it that way), and many other lefty political movements. For all of it’s Bohemian reputation, Berkeley is a remarkably churchy town, with all the major denominations heavily represented, multiple seminaries next to the campus, as well as six Buddhist temples / houses scattered around town.
I haven’t even included the University here.
I have been planning for the last few weeks a submission to On the Road, which would be subtitled On Our Block (h/t to R.A. Lafferty). It would actually be a slice of Berkeley comprising seven blocks, anchored at one end by the original Peet’s coffee that seeded the craft coffee experience in the U.S., and at the other end by the apartment building where Kamala Harris lived where she was 8 years old (there is an iconic photo from that time of her, her sister, and her mother standing in front of the building).
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Puerto Morelos, Q.Roo is like that for me.
@BGinCHI: Ulee’s Gold popped up on Showtime I think the other day. I’ve seen it a million times & still get something different every time. The performance Nunez pulled out of Peter Fonda was amazing.
@divF: A very close friend lives over on Prince.
TS (the original)
London. For 10 glorious months while he worked, I lived London. From the palaces and the parks to the narrow streets and the handkerchief sized front gardens, it was the land of my ancestors and I had come home. All the places on the monopoly board came to life, everywhere was full of history. Even going out to get a haircut was a minor adventure.
Going shopping, forgetting there was no car & having to get everything home on the bus. Daytime theatre in the suburbs, finding shows at minimal prices before they hit the town. Discovering that Alexander Palace was not a palace. Seeing the view from Greenwich in the winter & having it blocked by the trees in summer. Watching the Londoners bake in the sun during summer and disappear from sight in the winter. Amid a crowd of millions in the mall for royal jubilee, could see or hear little except the concord & the red arrows flying overhead, yet a memory of millions of people, just happy to be alive.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@divF: We love Berkeley. Got to know it when our daughter and son-in-law were living there. Even though they are no longer there, when we were in San Francisco a couple of years ago we opted to use our favorite Berkeley B & B (The Rose Garden Inn) as a home base and shop at the Berkeley Bowl for our food.
A lot of people here have and/or had amazing lives in really great places.
A lot of the stories are somewhat familiar to me, not that I was there or gay or whatever but I’ve been fortunate to get to travel a lot and see a lot of the world. And I’ve always had that what makes this or that place great in some way concept. Sure I’ve seen some shitholes and places that I’ve forgotten because they were very forgettable, but I’ve always tried to find what makes a place somewhere you always want to go back to. The walk led by an old man who came to the ship to give a walking tour of Antwerp, where we went to Rubins house, a museum which was his home in the 1600s. The shop girl a buddy and I met in Copenhagen who spoke with a perfect Oxford accent and was just incredibly beautiful and couldn’t understand how I knew what an Oxford accent sounded like and had to explain how she had one although she’d never even been to England. Or Charleston SC which was not the most fun ever but had it’s moments. Or that majestic elk, in a majestic place, or Bluff, NZ – where I saw the raw power of the sea and had a great lunch, or…. I could go on for ever, hell the first trip I remember was the family driving to Canada when I was 4 and I remember the shirt I wore because it was my favorite and had totem poles and I have a picture of me wearing it at a roadside stop in front of a woodcarving shop owned by an Indian tribe that made totem poles.
I like that people here look for great places and people, because they are everywhere. There are people everywhere who aren’t worth the time of day but they mean nothing. The people that do are like the farmer in NZ who I’d passed on a small 2 lane road about 10 minutes before and then stopped at the side of the road to look at my map, and he stopped to make sure I was OK and did I need directions. In the US that guy very likely would have cussed me out for passing him. People here are like that farmer.
HinTN – it wasn’t only the acid, believe me! DCB and I first visited Charleston in the early 90’s. We got settled into our hotel room and looked at the local paper (provided, I think) and the front page story was the latest scandal – the terrible condition of infrastructure in the state. The Cooper River bridge had got 3 out of 100 on a recent safety inspection. THREE!! We laughed the way you do when you have skirted the abyss. I hope to go over the new bridge some day with my eyes open.
My most at home feeling was in the Burlington VT airport waiting for my cousin to pick me up for a visit after20 years in California. I was feeling so relaxed and trying to understand why, when I realized that there were no blondes there– everyone had pale faces and dark hair just like me. That tiny difference, with no real cultural or political content, was enough to make me feel at home. It gave a little bit of insight into the incredible tension that blacks and other people of color must feel absolutely all the time.
I was going to say my special place is Clare, Ireland. A good chuck of my mother’s family is from Clare and I don’t know if it is a genetic connection or an affinity for the lifestyle, but my blood pressure drops 10-15 points when I step off the plane in Clare. There is just a sense of belonging. Not so much a sense that nothing bad can happen, just that whatever happens, we got you. My dogs are named Doolin and Ennis to give you a hint of how much I associate with the place.
If he weren’t dead I don’t know how I’d process this.
@raven: Prince Street: Alta Bates Hospital, Starry Plough pub (Irish music and politics, plus for many years the only place in town you could get draft Guinness at room temperature). Ashby BART Station.
There is a separate tour for music venues, which I completely overlooked. For you raven, I saw Bill Kirchen in 1973 on his 25th birthday at Mandrakes’ (10th and University), and then again on the same date in 2019 at the Freight and Salvage (my 21st and 67th birthdays, as well). I saw him a number of times in between as well.
@divF: Yea they are right a Fulton.
@Craig: I worked at the Guerneville Safeway in the mid-80’s. So many stretch limos with ladies, lots of protesters, pallets of cocaine, and of course, our economic betters. I had a school friend who worked the grove and made serious money.
My outdoor “special place” is just about any beach between San Francisco and the Lost Coast. For indoors – it would have to have been the Rubicon Brewing in Sacramento between 1994 and its end around 2018. A cross section of people and a time that will never come round again.
Drove to Lassen Nat Park once. I seem to recall there were maybe 2 other cars there at the time, it was early fall. Amazing place, on my list of places to go back to see if I can. One of those national parks that doesn’t get a lot of visitors, or at least it didn’t used to. And it should it’s beautiful.
@divF: So fine! I was looking at Nicolette Larson do Seeds and Stems with them this afternoon!
Ceci n est pas mon nym
@divF: Must have been an interesting place to be in 1969. Berkeley was a name I heard a lot in connection with anti-war demonstrations.
In addition to all those names you dropped, doesn’t Peter Beagle live there?
Truly a wonderful thread, and as with the photo threads, it’s making my list of “gotta go there” places much longer.
Also daunting to contribute to, because it’s so hard to choose….
First offering: the coastal strip of Olympic National Park. I hiked there for a couple of weeks in 1972. It was the summer of Fischer-Spassky, and we were inspired to play chess, so we scratched a board in the sand and used seashells and stones as pieces. For many years that beach was the place where I thought I’d like to go when it was time to die. And for many years I wanted to move to the PNW to be closer to it, and to be able to see those mountains whenever I wanted to. Living in Maine has just about erased that longing, and in fact I haven’t been back to the Olympics since 1985, and that was for the briefest of visits. But it’s still one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. I could sit there forever gazing out at the water. Of course, truth in advertising requires me to confess that we had glorious sunny weather on that trip, possibly the only two weeks of the year when it wasn’t raining there. It’s a temperate rain forest, which is partly why it’s so lush and beautiful. But I’m not sure I could live there year-round in real life.
Second thought train: I’m a country girl at heart, and I spent most of my travel time when I was younger hiking and backpacking. I didn’t get to NYC or London until relatively late middle age, and even now I’ve only spent maybe two weeks total in London, and no more than that in New York. I enjoyed both of them enormously (kind of surprisingly, since as I said, I’d mostly rather be in the woods), and if I had a *lot* of money I’d try to spend six months or a year in each of them. But I’d have to give London the edge, maybe because I studied English literature and did my PhD dissertation on George Bernard Shaw. Between Shaw’s plays and prefaces and letters (voluminous and wonderful!) and all the other stories I’ve read in which London is a major presence, I felt like there was a London in my heart before I ever even went there.
I spent a couple of nights in Doolin in 1979 – first of many trips to Ireland. I hitchhiked solo all over Ireland on that trip, and had some great adventures. When I went back twelve years later, everyone said: it’s not safe for you to hitchhike anymore. A sweet memory is of the landlady of my B&B in Doolin knocking on the door of my room late at night, after I got back from a session at the pub. (She called it “Gussie’s.”) She said, “Is there anything you need? I said, “No, I’m good.” She said, “God bless.” When I left, I asked her where was the best place to try to get a ride. She said, “Go down to the four-cross.” (Meaning the nearest intersection.)
Probably wasn’t much better when I drove over it in the early 70s. The advantage of no internet, you didn’t know how bad a bridge was, you just followed the traffic.
@laura: that Safeway is something special.
@trollhattan: I know where you were. Just lovely. Our place doesn’t have the vistas you get around there (though others in the Warner Valley do), but we have an unbelievably under visited national park as our backyard. Our next door neighbor is a trailhead.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: Nice. We stayed at the Rose Garden Inn the night we moved from our old house on Derby Street to our current house north of campus. Madame divF’s parents had come up to help us with the movers (Madame was in the middle of her fist year of medical residency, and in no shape to participate), and stayed there as well. It was a relief to have such a pleasant oasis for that night.
Reynolds Square in Savannah. A perfect place to sit on a bench under the huge old trees laden with Spanish moss, eat a treat from Leopold’s ice cream shop and people-watch. Savannah has 22 squares but Reynolds is my favorite.
Atlanta in the 1970’s, especially Peachtree Street between 10th and 14th Streets. Those few blocks were pretty much nothing but X-rated clubs, movie theaters and book stores. A few tried to go with a Gone With the Wind theme–“Rhett’s Adult Books” and the “Ashley Art Theater.” Then there was the 24/7 Krispy Kreme on Ponce de Leon. It was unreal; you’d go in there around midnight or 1:00 and the place would be wall to wall people. Cops, hookers, college students, suburban couples, all unable to resist the “Hot Doughnuts Now” sign.
Wow, this is a tough one, because there are many ways to answer the question. Some places feel remarkable for being unusual places I’ll likely never see again (North Korea in its immense weirdness; Hawai’i/Big Island, where I saw lava turning pouring out of a cliff into the ocean at midnight; Transnistria for its diplomatic nonexistence). Some feel special for having been the very best trips with my most loved person (Iceland, Galapagos, Havana).
But the place that is most significant to me, and most important to me, and where I feel most at one, is Manhattan. I knew it was where I belonged when I first visited as an adult after college, and I never wavered in that feeling since moving there 22 years ago. It is hard for me to articulate just what it is about the place (and NYC as a whole), but it is surely its people above all else. People live there because they want to achieve something. I like being around that ambitious energy, and it makes me want to achieve something. People are tough and aggressive, because they have to be, but, contrary to popular perception, they are huge-hearted. People are usually good and often excellent at what they do, because if they’re not they’ll get fucking run over, and I love that. Living in a state of such constant competition for everything is simultaneously exhausting and invigorating. To me, Manhattan has a beauty all its own, even in its dirt and grime. It’s not an obvious kind of beauty, but it never fails to awe and delight and excite me.
My favorite place in all of Manhattan, apart from my apartment, is the Knickerbocker Bar & Grill, in Greenwich Village. It’s my neighborhood haunt, in a classic old school NYC style. I was never a “regular” anywhere before the Knick. I ignored it for years because it just looked like one of these old, stuffy, not that good NYC places like you find in midtown, until I discovered that the food is excellent, the martinis are perfect, there is always a good murmur that’s neither too soft nor too loud, there is live jazz in the middle of the dining room on the weekends, and the patrons and staff are super quirky, which is just how I like it. It’s a real locals place, and I feel instantly more relaxed when I walk in the door. It breaks my heart that it’s been closed since March, but I am heartened that the GoFundMe for its staff has raised nearly $60,000, and that, as far as I know, it still exists.
We have now relocated to Santa Barbara — my brother’s family is here, so I get to be close to my nieces and nephew, and my getting-older parents are elsewhere in CA and NV. My partner of 20 years is happier here after her entire life thus far on the east coast. And this is about the nicest possible place in which you could hope to ride out a pandemic, and I never let myself forget it.
But I’m also in mourning. I’m beyond grateful that we were able to keep our apartment in the Village, though, and if this fucking disease ever abates, I hope to be back to my real home, even if I have a new primary residence, as often as I reasonably can.
One of my favorite things I ever read about NYC — or at least that which spoke to me most personally — was a comment on this here web site by our very own Martin: “NYC values have for 400 years been quite simple – bust your fucking ass, make money, succeed. NYC has always been, and remains a place where entrepreneurship was king – from a hot dog cart, to selling books on the sidewalk, to hooking for the sailors.” I came to New York not knowing I was going to start a business, but I did, and that business still exists, and I’m proud of it. I don’t know if I would have done it, or if it would have been the same, somewhere else.
Upper Lyman Lakes basin in the Cascades is a bit of paradise. There are rugged peaks on two sides and a glacier. The meadows are above tree line and dotted with turquoise tarns. Below is pale blue Lyman Lake. A waterfall port into it. On the far side rises Bonanza Peak 6000 feet above the valley. Its granite slopes rival Yosemite. Trails lead north to many meadowy ridges.
@NotMax: Frank Mockler, owner of Patrick’s passed away this March. Feels like fifty years ago in this bizarre year.
@Tom Levenson: I fell in love with Conwy. When I was there during the summer a few years ago, the castle had a group of performers doing a Shakespeare play.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Places I’ve felt wonderfully at home in:
1. As I said earlier, Puerto Morelos, Q.Roo. Very friendly place, good restaurants, inexpensive posadas. The reef is great to dive, with a nice wreck laying at about 85 feet. If the water is too rough, you dive cenotes. Vis at about 80 feet.
2. Bonaire – Dutch possession in the ABCs, the diving is phenomenal. Not super beachy, but there’s a nice one on a sand spit across a wide channel (with amazing dives).
3. Hanoi/Halong Bay (on the Gulf of Tonkin/Haiphong) – Hanoi was wonderful, with friendly people, great bustling culture, a lot of free enterprise and spectacular food. One of my favorite meals was at the place where Bourdain and Obama went for noodles, fish cakes and beer. Halong Bay was mystical as we rode a junk through the karst and observed the water villages.
4. Hoi An – a beautiful ancient city, about 30-40 miles from Song My/My Lai. We ferried south and rode bikes through river villages among friendly, happy people. It was hard to think about what happened so closeby within my lifetime.
5. Luang Prabang, Laos – Open, friendly people in a rural atmosphere of elephants and Buddhist monasteries.
6. Capetown, South Africa – funky, confusing, cosmopolitan. This place really felt right to me, like Sydney, but less expensive and more simply livable.
7. Sydney, Australia- What’s not to love? Nobody there seems to be from there – it’s like the Mecca for people who want to reinvent themselves.
8. Firenze, Tuscany – This is sophisticated, urbane living at its finest on a human scale. You’re a short train ride to lovely villages and small cities, surrounded by great art and civilization. There isn’t a bad meal or skunky bottle of wine anywhere, and all of the residents speak better English than I do. The landscape is wonderful, spring air sweet.
Others have mentioned camping as seminal places in their experience, so to add to that sentiment, I submit Hermit Island Campground, at the point of the Phippsburg peninsula, due south of Bath, Maine. A perfect place to perfectly unwind, to be idle with a vengeance. And a great place to observe the night sky. One night, after my wife and our sons were asleep, I sat at the campfire, drinking Glenlivet and nibbling on dark chocolate, while two guys in a neighboring campsite ran through the early Beatles catalogue, perfectly rendered.
I’m not ambitious, tough, or aggressive, so I probably wouldn’t thrive there in that sense. ;-)
But as for huge-hearted — one of the surprises for me in the time I have spent in New York was how kind and helpful people were. No one was grumpy, people were unfailingly friendly and not at all impatient with my tourist questions and mistakes. The only city I’ve actually spent a lot of time in is Boston, and I found being a pedestrian in New York to be a much less harrowing experience than being one in Boston. People actually obeyed traffic rules and didn’t constantly play chicken with pedestrians! Amazing!
@AliceBlue: And it’s all ritzy Georgia Tech stuff now. I worked at 10th and Hemphill for a few years.
@Kim Walker: I was just going to write that you were a real-life Cinderella. Such a light in these dark times.
@Craig: the old one was really something. The new one was Really Something! I saw many wonderous and freaky things on the daily. And the commute along river road or hwy 116 – what a time it was.
@divF: I grew up in Berkeley, in a big old Spanish Arts and Crafts house behind the Claremont Hotel. (I was born in Alta Bates). I was stupid enough to stay away after college. Damn.
Peet’s used to make custom blends on request…and if you asked, they’d keep your preferred mix on a 3×5 index card in the shop and you could request it by name. My mum’s Levenson blend was 70% Top Blend ( no longer available, alas) and 30% French Roast. (My reconstruction of it now is 2/3 New Guinea Highland and 1/3 Italian Roast, which I commend to you all.)
@trollhattan: Since you thieved one of my answers…I’m going to take a slightly different bent.
Every time I get to go to Uwajimaya it has this…feel to it. Like a warm hug embracing my Japanophile soul. I don’t make premise that I feel Japanese necessarily, but it feels…familiar.
The other place, of course, is Pike. Because Pike. There really is no other place like Pike.
@Ruckus: It is gorgeous, and still undervisited, which if fine by my family. The peak trail can get crowded, Summit lake, too. But our corner of the park? Empty, mostly, even in high summer.
Cowgirl in the Sandi
When I was very small, we used to go to Sarasota Florida every February (from Illinois). I can remember, very early in the morning, going down to the train station to watch the Ringling Brothers circus train leave for their gigs up north. Sarasota at that time was a small town with lots of artists. We stayed in cottages on Siesta Key. All that is gone now – I sometimes think the motto of Sarasota now should be ‘What used to be there?’.
…don’t know what you’ve got till it’s gone…
Mike in NC
We spent a week to ten days in Halifax, Nova Scotia almost 20 years ago. Loved everything about it and would kill to go back.
South side of Scripps pier in San Diego. I learned to surf there and still paddle out when I go back to visit my fam. It’s home
@JanieM: I’m delighted to hear you were warmly received. I love helping tourists myself!
As for obeying traffic rules, uh, well, I don’t know if I’d exactly vouch for that, but there’s at least a consistency to the driving patterns that you, the pedestrian, can plan around. And the city benefits from being a grid, whereas my time spent driving in Boston gave me the impression that you’re confronted with a non-reversible navigation decision every two or three minutes, so I don’t know if that, you know, affects the drivers. (Of course, one of the best things about living in New York is not needing to own a car at all!)
James E Powell
In April 1998 I came to Los Angeles to visit my little sister. She’d been living there since 1991 and it was long past time I made the trip. The hot thing in town was the recently opened Getty Center. The crowds of people going there were a national story. So we took a Big Blue bus there early in the morning. We were on the first tram going up. It had rained all night, but it was perfectly clear. We got coffee and walked out to one of the balconies on the south end of the center. You could see for miles in every direction Catalina Island to the west and the whole LA basin in front of me. I said, this place is so huge I could probably find something to do. I should just move here. My sister said, why not? Go ahead. And in January 1999, I did. I go up there at least once a year to remember that moment.
I added an update up top:
@J R in WV: Haven’t been to most, but will go with Asheville. Great town.
Agree, Uwajimaya is magical. It was very small compared to today, when a kid I was but one could still get candied, dried octopus and such. Not so much at Thriftway.
Seattle was a peculiar mix of cultures back in the day that I’m not sure any place replicates today. I grew up convinced Scandinavian and Japanese cultures have a strong overlap–philosophy, design, art, esthetic, stoicism, etc. Never had Japanese lutefisk, though.
@geg6: It is nice to share an NYC – Santa Barbara connection with you!
@AliceBlue: The Great Speckled Bird!
@laura: Bohemian Hwy between Monte Rio and Occidental is one of my favorite stretches of road, all twisting up and down through the woods and over creeks. Love it out there.
@JPopeC: I love that film and that area.
Underrated wine from the Abruzzo too.
@Kim Walker: This is an amazing story!
@SFBayAreaGal: I love Conwy, but the pubs were shockingly poor.
Great hikes around there, though.
Ps. Mrs. BG a Welsh speaker.
I’ve bicycled that road (organized ride, no F-250s running one over) and agree it’s an amazing mix of winding road, redwoods, creeks, ferns, deer…nice.
This is running through my head.
@WaterGirl: Is the tagline about vitriolic, vicious jackals still there?
I don’t ever seem to see it, and it explains why we call ourselves jackals.
@Elizabelle: I’ll check. Be right back.
@James E Powell: I love The Getty, so pretty, so we’ll run. First time I went it was drizzling, but a tram from the parking lot, and then umbrellas at every entry/exit from the different galleries. Such a relaxed, but intense way to view great art.
@BGinCHI: Agree re pubs. A mystery— I’ve spent a fair amount of time in Wales, and genuinely good beer is hard to find.
@Craig: Ever been to the one in Malibu?
James E Powell
I was there for White Nights in the summer of 1991, weeks before it all went down. The people there wanted to change the name back to St Petersburg, Gorbachev said it should stay Leningrad. The general response in the city was “F! Gorbachev!” We went to a concert/party on the beach on Zayachy Island that lasted all night. They had a huge banner that read Saint Petersburg – in Russian of course. The sun hardly went down. It was surreal. We had to wait till morning for the bridges to come down so we could walk back to the home where we were staying. Hermitage was right across the river and it was just as you describe. Mystic. I tried to imagine the embankment as the scene of bloody revolution and I just could not.
Just watched the read of Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here. Am thinking they may have updated some of the dialogue and plot, because it was too on point WRT Trump.
I wondered if it was the exact same play I saw in 2016 in Chapel Hill. Seemed different, certainly the end …
@Elizabelle: This is there.
It’s all coming back to me that someone ask for us to take the word “vicious” out of there because of some experience that word triggered, which John agreed to.
The Highline Trail in Glacier National Park, maybe about halfway between Haystack Butte and the turnoff to the Grinnell Glacier overlook.
In 1983, I was hiking that stretch of the trail, and I saw a flock of bighorn sheep grazing up the hill from me. As I watched them, as they grazed, they gradually moved in my direction, until I was literally in the middle of a flock of bighorn sheep. Then they kept on gradually grazing their way downhill until they were well on past, and I resumed my hike.
I’ve hiked the Highline a few times since (not nearly as often as I would like!), and needless to say, it’s never happened to me again. I’m still amazed that it happened that once.
From my first visit I always felt a connection to eastern Canada. First time coming into Halifax on a foggy summer night. Being on the ferry from Nova Scotia and seeing St. John NL suddenly materializing on the horizon like Brigadoon. These two cities are places I’m sure I could happily live in. But the place where I feel I have lived…in a previous life? a parallel universe?…is Gaspe in Quebec. Just an amazingly strong feeling of belonging, of being at home. And such spectacular scenery on the whole peninsula.
@RSA: It wasn’t the ruins at all, for me/us. We stayed in Chania the first few nights (mentioned in Shakespeare’s play Twelfth Night as “Candy,” a famous Medi port…), which once you get away from the tourist parts of the harbor is super interesting and intricate. It’s an old Venetian port, for much of its history, and has many layers of mystery.
Then down to the south coast and to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. Just stunning. Inland in the mountains, where you stop at any roadside taverna and the food is local and the lemonade is local and it’s all the best goddamn thing you’ve ever tasted.
I loved every second I spent on that island. Mrs. BG and I agreed that if we had to chuck it all and leave, we’d buy a piece of land or something there and give it a go.
@Ivan X: You made me laugh about Boston driving. Yes, a non-reversible decision every two or three minutes is a good way to put it. I lived in Boston suburbs (Belmont and Watertown) for 7 or 8 years and drove quite a bit, but rarely in Boston proper; for that I used the T. I love maps and don’t use GPS, but the one big use I can think of for GPS is if I have to drive in Boston, it’s nice to know as far ahead of time as possible which lane to be in for an upcoming decision, because people give no quarter if you want to change lanes at the last minute.
Funny memory: I grew up in northeastern Ohio and went to college at MIT. When my parents drove me up there in the fall of 1968, you could get from my house (in a town of about 25,000) to the campus without hitting a single traffic light. Home to I-90, off I-90 at Cambridge St. — there must have been a stop sign there. Across the river onto Mem Drive — another stop sign? — and a clean sweep down the river to campus.
That’s unbelievable if you think of how Cambridge is now.
@trollhattan: I’m always amazed at the people who bike solo on all those Sonoma/Marin roads. I’d be a nervous wreck.
@Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: I’d love any recommendations you can give me for there.
We drive by but haven’t stopped. Would love to.
please excuse lousy typing. i broke my right dominant arm.
danger beach, cape town. our family home was up the mountain behind the beach and before undertaking the arduous trek up home, i would rest on the beach for a while after school.maybe a couple of hours until i felt the seagulls looked threatening – hitchcock- or i was hungry. just me, warm sand, a book and the waves. soul-soothing.
To wrap it up, Durango, CO. Mrs H’s son went to college there and we visited. There’s a high altitude pond, Spud Lake, that’s at about 8,800 feet in the mountains surrounding. We found a parking place by a beaver pond and walked up past lots of smaller improundments until we reached the lake itself. Clearly created a long time ago by beavers but long since just an ice cold natural lake. Early November, clear sun shining day, sure I’ll go in! Water so cold it’s the ice pick in the forehead. Did I levitate from that water? You betcha !!!
@WaterGirl: OK. I never see it, but glad to hear it’s still there.
@Phylllis: I honestly think it’s his best film. Fonda, I mean.
@raven: I lived across the street from Prince Ave Baptist.
I feel most at home in Scotland. Whether it’s walking into a gallery in Edinburgh and hearing Warren Zevon’s Greatest hits, walking the North Sea shore in Dornoch, exploring the ruins of Dun Nottar, looking out over the links at Cruden Bay, getting lost every day on the single tracks, or strolling the streets of St. Andrews everything says “This is where you belong.” Of course, Telluride in the 70’s was wonderful, too, just before the trust-funders moved in.
If you can stand just one more, Tilden Lake in north Yosemite is a hidden gem that looks like a landlocked fjord. You will not have a lot of company, because it’s work to get there and in a part of the park relatively few visit.
@Ruckus: OK, but have you met Omnes.
@BGinCHI: R.E.M. singer Michael Stipe has opened a restaurant here, but it is not lush and plush. Unlike the glitzy Planet Hollywood and other star venues, the Guaranteed is as stripped-down sincere as its owner.
@Ruckus: Seriously, you’re exactly right, or I wouldn’t be here.
This is a special place.
@raven: Wow, I did not know that!
I’m proud of those guys for staying put for the duration.
Except for Peter, but that worked out great for me.
I know what you mean about New Orleans, it is unique. It is the first place my husband and I took our four boys for a “cultural” vacation (rather than visiting family or the beach). We weren’t sure how it would go because they were pretty young at the time, but we had a great time and it became an annual side trip when we visited my family down south. And it was always in August because the hotel rates were so much lower during off season (since it was so damned hot!).
We would walk to Cafe du Monde for breakfast, go on an outing of some sort, take a dip in a pool in the afternoon to cool off, then a nice dinner as soon as the restaurants opened. Year after year we revisited favorite haunts but always found something new to see too. The World War II museum and the Aquarium were favorites. And oh, the food… My kids are grown now but it is still one of their favorite places.
@PAM Dirac: My first night in Ireland, staying at this little hotel in Ennis, I pay my bill and the owner hands me an Irish pound coin. I look at him like…what?
He said, “You just got here. For luck.”
@JanieM: A night out at the pubs in Doolin?
NO ONE forgets that.
@BGinCHI: I’m still holding on to the wedding band video I shot of them when there guitar tech got married. It was a surprise, there was another band playing and they just walked in the tiny bowling alley, picked up the instruments and played seven songs.
@Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes:
Yes! I’ve only spent a couple of days there, long ago, but it was worth even a short trip. The Uffizi!
My brother went to art school, and in his junior year spent a semester there. I had to think, what a perfect choice.
@Spanish Moss: Wanna buy a nice townhouse on Burgundy?
Just for fun:
Wonderful video taken with a car-mounted camera driving through Boston and Cambridge in 1964.
@Tom Levenson: Hmm.
My experience was that there was amazing beer but lousy pubs. Mostly. Then you’d find a town with like 3 excellent pubs in the same street.
It made no sense.
I can’t remember the producers of the good beers I had, but they were excellent if you like the style (bitter, not too cold). Brains even makes good beer.
Now for the shocker. Ready everyone? Worst beer? IRELAND.
Apart from Guinness and a very few others, there’s almost nothing interesting (I haven’t been there for 5 years, so correct if I’m wrong now). The reason is that the macro breweries stomped on the craft beer revolution and it never really happened there.
Irish food, on the other hand, is underrated.
Don’t tempt me! :-)
@Spanish Moss: Right around the corner from Louis Armstrong Park. My friend died last year and his widow is going to sell it when the time is right.
Ceci n est pas mon nym
I love the books by Frank McCourt. His description of Irish cooking: If you can still tell what vegetable it used to be, it’s not done yet.
I have fond memories of a week we spent in Galway. It was wet and miserably cold and wonderful. There’s nothing like coming into the pub out of the cold rain and warming up while listening to a music “session”. We did that every day. My drink of choice was Irish Coffee, which is not something I usually have, and my memories of the pub food are very fond as well. But it may have been kind of enhanced by being a lovely warm meal on a cold miserable day.
Everytime I go back to Richmond Virginia I have to visit Hollywood Cemetery. When I was a kid we used to jump the fence at night drinking beers and smoking dope just walking around. It’s a huge sprawling place with graves back before the Civil War. Rolling Hills, twisting paths, eccentric grave markers, legendary vampire JJ Poole’s mausoleum, James Monroe has a lovely grave. I’ve pissed on Jefferson Davis’s grave more than once.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Happy to! What time of day?
Owned a bike shop in Marin for a while and rode as much as I could all over. Some of the roads are really a pain car wise but most of them are fine.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
Scotch Eggs are fantastic.
@HinTN: Oh I remember the Bird! There was a guy in Piedmont Park who used to hand out copies of it. Long white hair, tanned leathery skin, went by the name of Alexander. He could have been anywhere from 25 to 55.
Omnes and I seem to get along just fine. Most of the time.
@Craig: Isn’t Poe buried there?
Fucking Braves run into a double play.
I immediately felt at home in Wales. We did have sunshine. Except for the hike up Mt. Snowden.
J R in WV
There’s a little mining town in SE AZ like that. Bisbee, AZ was a huge mineral strike, copper, silver, lead and a little bit of gold. But in the late 1960s the mines started to close, and business crashed.
At about the same time, the hippies of San Francisco went looking for places to be creative, not in the big city. And In Bisbee they could buy buildings for the back taxes. Steep mountain roads, houses glued onto the mountain side with mortar and stone. One “main street” is Brewery Road. Lined with brew pubs and bars and tiny hotels.
Art galleries, book shops, junk stores. Giant towering heaps of mine spoil, bigger than an aircraft carrier, punctuated with mine headers, towers of girders and cables. Most of the town was a superfund site, from the lead and other heavy metal ores dusted across every bit of the area.
Nice to visit, wouldn’t want to move there. Good food, jeep tours, views to amaze. Giant open “Lavender Pit” one of the first open pit mines, abandoned for decades now. Bisbee turquoise is remarkable, and rare. There’s a big museum full of wonderful mineral specimens, and a tiny bit of the Copper Queen mine people can tour.
There were caves throughout the mineral deposit, and when the miners would open another giant room full of green and blue cave features, the mine barons would host a giant ball party inside the mine, after which the beautiful cave would be sent to the ore crusher. People still creep into the underground through their secret cave openings to collect mineral specimens.
@Ceci n est pas mon nym: Galway City is just so damn great. The food all along the west coast was great. I ate so many trout salads, and the fish stew? Best.
See good people….
@Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Any places to eat would be great. Kid friendly, but also any good places to have an afternoon cocktail too.
@BGinCHI: My first visit, the only ale one could find was Double Dragon, which was rat’s piss. It has gotten better over the last four decades.
@Ruckus: Same here.
I can’t believe he’s missing this thread.
@Denali: St. David’s and that whole Pembrokeshire peninsula is hopelessly lovely.
@Tom Levenson: Norway is kind of similar. There’s great beer, but you could easily miss it, as it’s still hard for the small folks to get product out. Government squashing craft beer out of too much caution over alcohol.
Giant plastic cheap bottles of crap beer but not much local interesting beer that most people would learn to drink more slowly.
I should put that on my bucket list. My kid would be down with that, and maybe she’d write a play or something.
Mike in NC
@Mike in NC: Dam
“Edgar Poe was born in 1809 in Boston, but he considered Richmond his home and even called himself “a Virginian.” It was in Richmond that Poe grew up, married, and first gained a national literary reputation. Many of the places in Richmond associated with Poe have been lost but several still remain.”
I can think of several. One is where I have lived for most of my adult life, Tacoma, WA. There’s a peace that comes from looking at the Puget Sound and the mountains that’s indescribable. I never tire of it. Another is Hawaii, particularly the wildly diverse Big Island and also Beautiful Kauai’i, where we attend a yearly music camp. I also have many happy memories from when I was a kid of Cuernavaca, Mexico, particularly an inn we visited every year, Las Mananitas; the staff became friends over the years. Also Gstaad, Switzerland, which I visited several times and is incredibly beautiful (yes I love mountains)! I was actually in Switzerland (Lausanne, on Lake Geneva) when Nixon resigned. That was really weird.
@JanieM: I love maps too! And while I do use GPS sometimes, I don’t when I want to learn the layout of where I am, or when I just want to take a road to see where it goes. When I was a teen I used to read the LA Thomas Guide for fun.
@WaterGirl: Did you take out any of the old ones? Every time I see the one about showering with Rahm Emanuel I get the ews.
@raven: he’s buried in Baltimore.
Braves were lucky to get out of that last jam. Good luck.
On the grounds of the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) at Pune, Maharashtra, there is a disused “tank” – a stone pool that was used for water scenes in early Indian films. A grove of banyan trees surrounds it; the air is oxygen-rich, the light exquisitely dappled.
And twice a day, at sunrise and sunset, the birds gather and sing. There are easily tens of thousands of birds — a wide variety of species, from little to big, from tuneful to raucous, from deep to high — all singing simultaneously. Different flocks arrive and the symphony changes to reflect their presence. Occasionally a dove emits a bass note. The total show lasts about an hour. The acoustic pressure is remarkable; the sound is everywhere. When I lived in Pune, I’d go up there as often as I could.
I went there once with two friends who both played flute. I sang.
It’s been more than 20 years. I still dream that spot.
@low-tech cyclist: I’ll never forget our family trip to Glacier National Park about 7-8 years ago, and having a snowball fight at the Logan Pass rest area/visitor center/whatever in the middle of July.
Also seeing Flathead Lake and being shocked how cold the water was in the middle of the summer, and staying at Glacier Park Lodge, and going canoeing on Two Medicine Lake, where the water was SO. CLEAR. that we could see the bottom pretty much the whole way across.
J R in WV
Many years ago, on a rock-hounding trip to Colorado and Wyoming, we were driving on a precipitous road on the side of a box canyon from Canyon city north to Cripple Creek. Suddenly we saw mountain goats walking on the other side of the box canyon.
It was spring, and there were babies, and they would climb and stumble, catch themselves, and climb more. It was amazing to see. They were completely oblivious to the people on the other side of the canyon, perhaps 100 feet away, but completely inaccessible , sheer walls of rock between the goats and us.
Were a ton of abandoned gold mines all over that mountain stretch! So fascinating to rock hounds like we were!
@Craig: he also has a perpetual dorm room waiting for him on the grounds at UVA ;)
NYC baby. There is no other place like it in the world. My wife and I almost decided to decamp to the suburbs a couple months ago…there was a gorgeous home in the school district we would want to be in (when our daughter is that age) at a good price, but aside from the daycare options being slim until she hit kindergarten…NYC is NYC! The city is sliding back a bit – I have passed the corner across the street when starting my morning runs and seen needles on the ground – but there ain’t nothing like this place anywhere else. It is sad to see it dying to some extent; the retail apocalypse is very real, and there are going to be a lot of empty buildings for a while – but it’ll come back. Once you are here, you never want to live anywhere else.
In the USA, I also have a soft spot for Philly, Portland ME, and pretty much any major / fairly big city on the West Coast. Overseas – that’s tough. I figure I have a lifetime to figure that out, as I will want my cremated remains scattered in numerous spots around the world, and there’s no reason to decide too early. :)
@Craig: Betts is killing us
“Once you are here, you never want to live anywhere else.” There are at least 5 young families I know here who disagree. They bailed and moved back here.
@BGinCHI: Didn’t get much of a chance to sample the pubs. Loved walking around. Went to a local rummage sale at their community center. That was a lot of fun.
O. Felix Culpa
@J R in WV: I’ve been to Bisbee with my parents, who live in Prescott. We have a similar former mining village turned hippie-artsy-touristy place south of Santa Fe, called Madrid (accent on the first syllable for reasons). The Mineshaft is a fun biker bar there with a great green chile cheeseburger and the best jalapeno-cucumber margaritas. Highly recommended.
@trollhattan: Every time I go to Yosemite the light is different. I’ve been there in the Fall, Winter (ice skating at Camp Curry), Spring, and Summer.
@raven: Mookie is amazing.
Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes
On the square, I recommend Pelicanos (that’s seaside, generally got a mariachi going), La Sirena (second floor – great breeze on a hot day, owned by a Greek guy from New Jersey so it’s a nice combo of Mexican and Greek food), Dona Trini’s taqueria. At night, there’s a fish co-op that’s spectacular. Going north for a walk, I recommend Don Ernesto’s next to Wet Set Dive Center and My Paradise on the beach. You can also get a good meal at Habanero’s, but it can get super hot, as it’s on the street. At night, there’s a Churrasco for a great steak, across from Posada Amor (a great bar).
Also at night, there’s a dude selling marquesitas on the square – stiff crepes stuffed with sharp, salty cheese and Nutella.
@Jeffro: If anyone is going to show up and collect on that it would be him.
@Ruckus: It RATTLED as you drove over it. It reminded me forcefully of my brother’s Meccano set!
There are many places I lived that I have loved but my first love is and will always be Mumbai.
I wrote this a few years ago.
@Warren Senders: That sounds wonderful.
@raven: To each their own. NYC has always been a city of immigrants, so perhaps that is why it appeals so much to me and my wife – both people who were born overseas. The hustle is real, but I respect it.
@PsiFighter37: They are people with kids and it didn’t make sense for them to be there financially.
1979. After a year and a half at Antioch College in Ohio I decided I wanted a break. A friend down the hall said he was going to New Orleans and I was welcome to join him. So we headed south – he wanted to work in a stereo store and I wanted to work in a bicycle shop. (We both found our jobs, but that’s not this story.
We knew an older guy who had left Antioch a year earlier and said we could crash with him while we got started. So we hit New Orleans early on a Saturday evening and our friend said he was going to a local bar to see this band called the Neville Brothers. Come 1am he had to get home to work (offshore on the oil rigs) in the morning. We weren’t ready to leave that music yet so we let him go and 3:30 am or so found us on the sidewalk hitching a ride back to the shotgun house by City Park. We’re picked up by some guy in a VW bug who happens to have a huge amount of hash in his glove box which he was happy to share with us. So you could say my first impression of the city was memorable
I loved living there at 21. Haven’t been back since then though.
I was in Prague in ’92 when Vaclav Havel announced on the radio that he was dissolving parliament and letting Slovakia go their own way. That city is a jewel box. I went to Berlin too, while reading Isherwood…that was a great time
@raven: @Craig: Braves are killing me
@Benw: I stayed up and watched my Dawgs, I may have to DVR this. Great play at the plate.
@raven: Yep, textbook. Imma hold on, even if tomorrow am suuuucks
@Benw: That’s the thing I have nothing to do but physical therapy at 8.
@raven: this is when it’s good to be out West, plus sunsets over the ocean.
@Craig: where we go in Florida it does too.
You reminded me of when my ship pulled up to the dock in St. Thomas. I knew that the depth was about 60 ft at the end of the dock where we tied up and you could see the bottom like it was a less than a foot away. Very colorful fish. Beautiful. Never been anywhere else in salt water that it was that clear.
Why are the Dodgers the home team, but it’s not Dodger Stadium, but Texas? Is it a Covid thing?
@Craig: Like dis
@Mary G: Yes, it’s not Atlanta either.
@raven: yeah I just have my job and stuff :)
@Mary G: they’re playing 1 game every day at neutral sites to reduce travel. Good for the COVID bubble but chaos for the pitching staff!!
I will probably be the only person to mention Strawberry Point, in northeast Iowa. It is the home of the World’s Largest Strawberry, erected in a mostly futile attempt to attract tourism. It’s my father’s home town, and we spent so many pleasant summer days in the 1950s on the family farm. You could walk three blocks to the drug store soda fountain, which is still there.
There are numerous other low-key tourist attractions in the area. Backbone State Park (formerly Devil’s Backbone); Spillville, Home of the Bily Brothers Clock Museum and once visited by composer Dvorak; Decorah, home of the Vesterheim Museum. Maquoketa, home of an old mill.
Go visit and stay in the Franklin Hotel. There used to be a doll museum, too.
“Strawberry Point is a city in Clayton County, Iowa, United States. The population was 1,279 at the 2010 United States Census, down from 1,386 in 2000 census. Strawberry Point is home to the world’s largest strawberry, and the Franklin Hotel, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999.”
That video is hypnotic and nostalgic. I saw at least one place that — decades later! — I called home.
Wonderful. Thank you.
I traveled to La Paz Mexico with my spouse and another couple. We put our lives on the line on rickety boats with bad batteries to dive and snorkel. On the way back to town from Los Islotes, a wonder in itself, the boat driver instructed us to jump into the big blue because they spotted mantas. Yes we did. And we encountered them and they us, and I have to admit, it seemed they were as curious about us as we were exhilarated about swimming with them. They were quite large.
Obviously, the boat driver did scoop us fools up and we lived to tell about it. I’m lucky to say I could have recounted many such memories, but this one still resonates. Good thread!
@BGinCHI: Die in hell, you bastard!
Now, that being said, my on topic response: My part of London. I lived in Paddington and my stomping ground was Notting Hill to Soho and up to Camden. The rest was great, but that was where I spent my time and when I go back it’s where I feel at home. Also Kitzbühel, Austria. It was the go to winter and summer place to go for me and my army buddies.
@JanieM: There’s a great video downthread of Boston driving in the early 60s. But your comment reminded me of this driving-around-Boston video, taken in 1968 by folks from the BBC.
That’s my father, and the experiment he was running (on Route 128!) eventually earned him an IgNobel prize in 2011.
@BGinCHI: I was busy. Mom’s birthday is today, and I was in Central WI visiting.
You mean the one I posted in comment 242, that you responded to at 306? Or……I’m confused.
Anyhow, the video of your dad with that visor popping up and down made me laugh out loud. My brain kept superimposing the traffic on 128 as it is today, and wondering how he lived through the experiment.
I spent 1st through 8th grade on Long Island…my father worked in Manhattan and I did get some exposure. But like you, when I’ve gone back many many years from my youth,, I feel like I belong there.
@PsiFighter37: Speaking as an unabashed NYC fan, it’s also not at all hard for me to see why someone might try it out and decide it’s not for them. It’s a wonderful, magnificent city, but it certainly ain’t easy, and compared to elsewhere, some of its quality of life is low. You gotta love what it has to offer, because otherwise I don’t think it would be worth the headache.
Favorite NYC kid moment: A boy, maybe 12 and a girl (younger) scootering on the street. He says, “Did you see Bolt?” She says, “Yeah.” “What did you think?” “It wasn’t great.” Prepubescent and still hard-to-impress NYC motherfuckers.
Dodgers come from behind in a squeaker!
!! I had an experience opposite yours years ago when I returned to Chicago from NYC after 3 or more years without a visit. I’d forgot that there were so many blond people in the world. It was when I realized just how Latin/Black/Italian/Asian NYC is.
We lived in the enchanted Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for a year, about a decade ago when my husband was on sabbatical. He is at least theoretically a Muslim so we were able to travel about the country on his iqama (work visa). During one of our breaks, we visited the Holy City of Makkah, which was a beautiful place. We did not do the Hajj – and I have such an aversion to crowds that I would not do a Hajj even if I was Muslima. My mother-in-law has done three of them and I have no idea how or why she managed this. We did umrah, which is a sort of mini-hajj. One of my husband’s colleagues took a bus to the holy city every weekend, which is a good long drive as we lived in the Eastern Provinces. We flew there the once and had a great stopover in Jedda as well. We found a great Persian restaurant in Jedda, and this became part of our travel tradition: we seek out at least one Persian restaurant wherever we go; we found some particularly fine ones in Madrid. No jambon for us! It’s fun discovering the unique adaptations each cuisine makes.
For umrah, my husband had to have appropriate white apparel, but I was able to wear my regular black abaya, so mostly I looked like a chubby black-garbed thermometer. The temperature exceeded 120 degrees that July day. But hey, dry heat and all that. I came within a whisker of tripping over a shrouded corpse in the Grand Mosque – awkward! Other events: I was mortified when my husband took a call from his mom in the middle of noon prayers, some nice ladies shared their prayer rug with me, and an Iranian lady assaulted me when the back of my neck was exposed at one point. (Iranian ladies can be fierce and terrifying, except for my mother-in-law who is the kindest woman on the planet.)
I felt conflicted about this particular trip, because I am not religious at all. What I thought about was how incredibly privileged I was. It would have been a dream trip for a devout Muslima, although it was a dream trip for me as well. Makkah/Mecca is a beautiful city, a tourist trap in the way of all historic cities, and an adventure of a lifetime. As you know, the city is closed to non-Muslims, and the only reason I was permitted there was because in KSA I travelled on my husband’s iqama without question. Much of the world has little use or understanding of religious diversity within families.
Over the past 38 years, I have come to understand that my husband is not the only immigrant in our marriage. I may have given him American citizenship, but he has absolutely given me the world.
@JanieM: Now I don’t even know if I should respond to say, “yeah, that one,” or not! Yeah, that one!
Dad was a brilliant man and a real character.
@Warren Senders: :-)
@Zanamu: Great stories. They make me want to hear more about your adventures, and everyone who is mentioned.
@Le Comte de Monte Cristo, fka Edmund Dantes: Thanks!
@Omnes Omnibus: Thread was really missing you.
@Omnes Omnibus: Hope you’ve been masking up. WI got some crazy numbers right now.
This T-shirt to close out the thread.
Late addition to the thread, but here’s my ‘place’ story. I have been fortunate to have travelled most of Europe (mostly though my study abroad experience in college which put in me near Paris in Versailles to study architecture) but have since travelled to a few places including Ireland which has the most beautiful countryside I’ve seen but I think one of the places that has had a profound impact for me was my trip to Machu Picchu.
I visited in 2005 and though it was quite a trek getting there, I did not “walk” the Inca trail, we rode a train, bus and then walked the rest of the way up to the site. Once we reached the city I will never forget my view of not only the incredible remains of the Incan city but the mountainside surrounding the city. It was truly one of the most moving experiences of my life.
I had never been that high before, Machu Picchu is at about 7,900 ft above sea level, I truly felt like I could touch the clouds and it was so beautiful, so large and untouched because of its remote location. I felt so small but grateful to be able to have seen that beautiful view. The day started out cloudy but the when the sun came out it was truly mythical and magical. I still think about that trip years later. I’ve added a link to some of the photos in case anyone is interested is seeing a few shots.
Cathie from Canada
For when you can’t travel but want to see the world anyway.
Its just a website of the photos or videos that people have taken out of their window or doorway, and you can change locations at random anytime you want (and FYI, sometimes the next photo takes a few seconds to load.)
Sometimes there are dogs or cats, too.
I would go with Balatonfured in Hungary and Bogota Colombia, for foreign places. In the US I liked Dry Falls in WA and Cahokia IL
Three places in the West of Scotland: Ardanaseigh, a hotel that was once a hunting lodge on the Argyll coast. Woke up in the morning and went out to find mountains and islands stretching away across the ocean like a glimpse of paradise. Loch Torridon, a sea loch surrounded by high cliffs, so still in the morning that the loch reflected the cliffs without even a ripple. And driving across the Isle of Mull and stopping in the middle of nowhere, nothing but green grass and yellow broom and sheep, the sky so blue and the sun so bright, and breathing air sweet with the smell of heather. My idea of Heaven.
@BGinCHI: Too funny
One August about 15 years ago, my wife and I were out there, staying in a cabin just inside the west entrance to the park – worth it for the wonderful view across Lake MacDonald less than a minute’s walk from our door.
Anyway, one day we were stuck inside because it was rainy and cold. Then all of a sudden, the thought crossed my mind that if it was this cold down where we were, there might be snow up at Logan Pass. So we drove up there, and sure enough, it was all snow up there. Absolutely awesome.
@Chbnna: A person’s first comment has to be manually approved, but after that they go through automatically.
(I added some spacing to make your lovely comment more readable, hope you don’t mind.)
Welcome to Balloon Juice!
@Mary G: I did not take out any of the old ones, but as I was going through them, I did think there were some that might be past their sell-by date. That is one of them.
@BGinCHI: I laughed out loud.