Well, recently Cranky Fitness was offered a review copy of something called "Dream Destinations." Intrigued by the prospect of a book of pretty pictures, but feeling lazy about actually writing a review, I was just about to delete the email when... a Sneaky Thought occurred to me. Was there a way to get all the pretty pictures and plant Future Vacation Ideas without having to do any actual work? "Hey honey," I said, in an innocent tone of voice...
And Voila, a free book arrived!
So now here is a review of...
By The Lobster
Occasionally, Crabby gets new products to review. In the past, she’s received stuff like flavored teas and energy bars. Given my love of "free stuff," I find this grass roots marketing kind of cool.
When the folks at LIFE books contacted her asking if she’d like to review their new book "LIFE’s Dream Destinations: 100 of the World’s Best Vacations" she immediately turned to me. You see, anything to do with geography is, well, not exactly her core competency. We’ve done a great deal of traveling in our almost 18 years together, lately concentrating on driving destinations in our trusty camper van. Crabby’s interest in maps is generally focused on font size, ie, is the font size big enough to indicate a town that has a) a gym and b) an Asian-fusion restaurant? I cannot tell you how many times she has been disappointed on both fronts, especially in the vast middle section of the country.
So with my new assignment, I settled into a comfy chair to read "Dream Destinations." The pictures are predictably fabulous, given that’s what the good folks at LIFE do best. I was completely prepared to make fun of their list, ready for $5000 a night lodges in the Masai Mara or destinations that require some combination of plane and yak to reach them. And, there were a few examples of that, including listing London as a family destination ("honey would you like dessert or to go to college?") and touting a romantic getaway at the Kennedy Cottages, where Jack and Jackie honeymooned near Santa Barbara, for a mere $2995 per night. However, much of their list was affordable and accessible. Or at least it was before gas was over $4 a gallon and airlines started charging by the pound.
Here are my observations:
Some of our very favorite places on earth made the list, which added immense credibility to the book. (Yes, we are extraordinarily fortunate). They are totally right about:
- Cinque Terre, a series of 5 gorgeous towns on the northern coast of Italy;
- Peggy’s Cove in Nova Scotia (in fact that whole dang province);
- Banff and Lake Louise in the Canadian Rockies;
- Napa Valley (of course, we’re from Northern California);
- The Yucatan Peninsula;
- The Snowdonia area of Wales, including the town of Betws-y-Coed (which, of course, to us became Betsy the Coed.)
I have a new list of places on my MUST SEE list including:
- The Glastonbury Festival, held in a small town in Somerset, England rumored to be the burial site of the Holy Grail that also hosts a Woodstock-like festival. I love the combo.
- The Tongariro Northern Circuit in New Zealand, home to a world class trek that ends at the Grand Chateau, a hotel that pampers the tired and weary.
- Wildflower Hall, a luxury hotel and spa in the Kunlun Mountains of east-central Asia, a stunning place at 8,350 feet which is neither affordable nor accessible but will stay on the lottery list.
- Lake Wanaka, back in New Zealand, surrounded by snow covered mountains, vineyards and, yes, sheep.
- Wisconsin Dells: The canyon and rivers were nice but Wisconsin Dells is right up there with Pigeon Forge, Tennessee as the pinnacle of tackiness. In the Dells, you can’t find the river for the putt-putt golf and other money sucking adventures. (However, if you are looking for pancakes in either place, you have hit the motherlode).
- Montana Dude Ranch... in winter: Illustrated by a picture of unhappy campers huddled around a campfire, obviously freezing their butts off. I love the outdoors but Dude, those people looked miserable.
- Mount Vernon: Just a question... why does George and Martha’s bed looked slept in?
- Lost Atlantis: There are enough nut-balls wandering around looking for it, do we need to encourage more of them?
The final verdict on the book? I enjoyed re-living some of our great vacations and seeing amazing shots of places I’m pretty sure I’ll never see. And, given the price of travel these days, the $29.95 price is a pretty good short term escape seeing how you’d only get about 7 gallons of gas and are probably unlikely to see anything as cool within 140 miles of your house.
Now the Crab will pop back in to ask: Does anyone have "dream destinations" that you'd love to visit some day? What would be on your short list?