5 Places I'd Like To Visit Before I Die
The five places I'd like to visit before I die are on my own personal bucket list. I went to London a few years back, and I'd like to revisit it. The English people weren't stiff or snooty or cold. On the contrary, they were great! I felt sometimes I should emulate their more delicate sense of etiquette in speech. Here are a few things that impressed me the most:
THE TATE It is an internationally acclaimed art museum that has to be seen to be believed. The Bottecellis, the Reubens...a wall of Old Masters with art students and sketchbooks studiously bent over their working, looking up periodically at a wall of beautiful pictures, so attractively arrayed. I liked especially the Constables, with their haunting, moony mystical air. They were tucked in a back corner of this fantastic museum.
What I loved and will remember to the day I die is stepping outside the Tate, by the Embankment, and looking over the parapet to all seven bridges over the Thames.
THE WIG AND PEN is a small, dark, wood-panelled and wainscoted men's club in the "City" of London (a ten-block area in the heart of London which was traditionally the commercial area). It is bounded by Fleet Street, and Charles Dickens supposedly wrote part of "Bleak House" there.
Though I was escorted by my friend Andy, a member, we created a small sensation there. It really was a club for men only in the traditional sense; not a place for live sex shows or anything like that; not a key club as in America, when you think of a men's club, but just a place where men drank their pints and read their newspapers and smoked their cigars in peace without having the pressure of being exquisitely polite to a bunch of ladies. I felt I was penetrating the Last Bastion of the Pukka Sahib. It was great. I had my half-pint of Bass and my Toad In The Hole, and for pudding--Spotted Dick. What else?
221B BAKER STREET Oh, I just HAD to go there! The Sherlock Holmes Museum was perfectly atmospheric. I expected Mrs. Hudson to bring up the tea any minute. The tobacco was in the Persian slipper and the violin was leaning against a chair next to the hearth.
What really moved me, though, were the letters. People were still writing to Sherlock Holmes, thinking he was a real, living person who could solve their mysteries.
STONEHENGE, WILTSHIRE, ENGLAND
I'd just love to go there. It is a place of such mystery, such power. It has served as a burial ground since its earliest beginnings. Carbon dating of remains found there show burials took place there from 3000 B.C. It may be one of the oldest cemeteries in the world.
It is a mysterious place to my imagination. No one knows how the early peoples engineered moving bluestones that weighed TONS so far from the place they were quarried. The world itself, "henge", a hanging stone; (a henge-cliff is a precipice) has the glamour and resonance of the mysterious Ages of the Druids.
Some day, I tell myself. Some day. Some day before I die I will see this powerful place with my own two eyes.
LOCH LOMOND, SCOTLAND
The Corries, Bonnie, Bonnie Banks O' Loch Lomond, from You Tube
THE BONNIE BANKS O' LOCH LOMOND
My mother's maiden name was Douglas. We have ancestors in Scotland, somewhere around Loch Lomond in the county of Dunbartonshire. As kids, when we were growing up, my mom and dad both played musical instruments and Dad could sing. That tune, "The Bonnie Banks o' Loch Lomond", has some special resonance for me. It makes me nostalgic for an era I never knew and homesick for a place I've never been.
This tune is often the final piece of music played after a show in Scotland. They remember, too,
The song is from a highlander who was captured during the 1745 uprising of Scottish against the English invaders in Scotland. The songwriter was a Jacobite. (Our family has a history of non-conformist religion, too). He was captured by the English, and the English tortured the Jacobites by saying one would live and one would die--they had to chose themselves who would live and who would die.
It is the chorus I remember the best:
O you'll take the high road and I'll take the low road
And I'll be in Scotland before ye
But me and my true love will never meet again
On the bonnie, bonnie banks o' Loch Lomond
I'd love to go there, and hear that song sung in a Scottish pub. I'd love to see if I could track down some living relatives. Like many Americans, I have such a mixed pedigree--Scottish, French, Pennsylvania Dutch German, and American Indian; but it seems the Scottish ancestry on my mother's side were the roots I identified with the most.
FORMER HOME OF THE INCAS
Machu Picchu is a pre-Columbian Inca site located high in the Andes mountains in Peru. I had never heard of this place until a friend of mine went there on an expedition with her archaeologist brother. She brought back pictures, and I was just stunned. It is so beautiful, so treasured, so unspoiled and so old.
My friend and I were working together in a call center for a security firm. Much of the world was inaccessible to me at that time--the Internet wasn't quite up and running. It's hard to believe now, but there really was a time before the Internet Era. And there really are people like me who remember it.
This place is 8,000 feet above sea level. My friend had to really prepare and get in shape to go there. At that time, a guide escorted the expedition through the jungle. My friend had to hack her way with a machete and camp out for (I believe it was) five days to get there. She said the elevation was what killed her. The air got so thin it made her very tired. She was determined not to be a wuss in front of her brother and the other members of the crew, so she made it there.
It was worth it. That place is just about perfectly preserved and hasn't been despoiled, being so hard to get to. It is referred to as "The Lost City of the Incas", because for centuries, only local people knew it ws there. It was built around 1430 AD and abandoned when the Spanish conquistadors overran the Inca Empire.
It is a special place, a sacred place. It's now a World Heritage site and I guess they have some tourism now. I hope the tourism hasn't commercialized this place. I don't think that could happen, really.
It's on my bucket list but I wonder if I will ever be in good enough shape to attempt the journey. I'm still a smoker, though I've tried everything to quit, and that thin air might just make this trip unfeasible. I hope not. It's a reason to quit smoking, right?
THE NARROWS (ZION NATIONAL PARK, UTAH)
I would dearly love to go hiking through The Narrows in Zion National Park, near Springdale in Utah. The scenery is spectacular. There's a place called "Wall Street" in the Narrows, which is a very narrow defile through the gorgeous river canyon on the North Fork of the Virgin River. It's about a four-mile hike through some of the most beautiful and unspoiled scenery in America.
I love to walk, I love to hike. I have my favorite walks, both the real ones and the virtual ones I've discovered on the Net.
This is one of my very favorite net walks. I'd so much love to be there for real before I say goodbye.