Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Your Chance To Tell Me Where To Go

     Travel is important to me and Mrs. Chatterbox. Each year we try to visit somewhere interesting. We don’t do this because we’re flush with money, which we aren’t, but because we believe the world to be a fabulously interesting place, and we fervently believe Mark Twain when he said, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness.” We also have a few health issues that might become a concern as we grow older, and we have no desire to sit in our rocking chairs at the old folk’s home regretting what we should have done when we had the health, strength and energy.
     We’ve been to quite a few interesting places but, frankly, we’re running out of ideas. Last year we planned a Nile cruise but we were forced to cancel because of the pesky Egyptian revolution, and it still isn’t a good time to visit Egypt. I’m a bit swarthy and could probably blend in but Mrs. Chatterbox is as fair as a Georgia peach and would stand out like a third hump on a camel. For now Egypt will just have to wait.
     Yesterday, Mrs. Chatterbox and I were enjoying a cup of coffee and discussing where we might go in 2012. By the time we finished our coffee we still hadn’t come up with a destination. Then I had a great idea—there was brandy in my coffee. Why not ask Chubby Chatterbox’s readers to suggest a place? A shocking number of viewers are checking in from all over the world (does the Kremlin think Chubby Chatterbox is code for something?) so we should be able to expect some great opinions.
     But please, only send in suggestions for destinations you have actually visited, not places you’ve seen on Rick Steves’ Europe or Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations. And congratulations if you’ve been to the top of Mt. Everest but I doubt I could get my large ass up there and Mrs. Chatterbox isn’t fond of heights. I’d also like to mention that we’ve been extremely lax at exploring the USA, so don’t rule out your favorite American destinations.
     Mrs. Chatterbox was an Army brat and she can have us packed to go on a moment’s notice. We’re presently between dogs, and Mama is well-tended in a retirement home.  
     So, any ideas out there?

*If you don’t recognize the picture accompanying this post, it’s of Mont Saint-Michel on the French side of the English Channel. I should have been taking a picture of the pyramids in Egypt but that didn’t work out thanks to the State Department. Read about it (Here).     


  1. I can heartily recommend China. I went there in 2004 and loved it. The Great Wall is a bit touristy - as are the Terracotta warriors, but still well worth a look.

  2. Honestly the only other country I've visited is Canada and I wouldn't recommend it. Last year I stayed in state in part because flying is so expensive and such a hassle (especially for fat guys) but also I like photographing lighthouses and nature stuff and Michigan has a lot of that. So you could come here and donate money to our economy! (Just stay away from the big cities: Detroit, Flint, Lansing, Saginaw)

    Otherwise I can run down my pretty short list:
    1. Maine coast, pretty good but you have to go in the summer when it's warmer but then there are probably more tourists
    2. New Mexico: Dry heat is still heat but otherwise I had a fun time there.
    3. Arizona: Not as much fun as New Mexico, oddly enough.
    4. Toronto: It really sucked, but I think Canada has some secret hatred of me. What did I do to Canada?
    5. Cooperstown, New York: There's the baseball hall of fame, a lake, and...nothing.

  3. Though if I were to go anywhere, I'd go to Europe. Except France. They suck.

  4. It might help to know where you have been before so we can avoid suggesting those places.

  5. New Orleans has history, art, architecture, antiques, voodoo, amazing food, and quite the night life, if you haven't travelled with a young child, as we did. We stayed in a hotel in the old French Quarter. Interior courtyards and cobbled passageways to get to our room. Visit a plantation and sail the Mississippi in a paddle steamer. Apart from the fact we pronounced the street names as they were written, in French, and no-one understood what we meant, it was a City I'd return to in an instant. OMG, I forgot music, jazz.

  6. I'd love to suggest Austria, Switzerland, Bavaria, the Dolomites in Italy, but I haven't actually been there. Just read about them in books and dreamed about going there for years.

    Actually visited: Canadian Rockies, from Glacier National Park (Montana) up to Banff, Lake Louise, and a bit north of there, too. Spectacular scenery, unspoiled, relatively few people. For that matter, I heartily recommend Colorado. (I like mountains, can you tell?) Altitude averse? Try visiting our mutual friend Joan Perry in Charleston, SC. Just don't go in the's humid as hell, and just as hot. Springtime is spectacular, though. I enjoyed England, but it's a bit stuffy. You have to like old stuff.

    Wherever you go, bring back lots of pictures. ;)


  7. Oh, and if you make it to Charleston, travel a little farther south to Savannah, GA, too. They have some really great historical walking tours of that beautiful old city.


  8. Just driving across South Dakota on I-90 could keep you busy for a week.

  9. I don't know there is anywhere I'd recommend in July or August, but if you are looking at May/June, or September/October:

    The Department of the Lot in Southern France -- ideally in the area between St. Cere and Figeac as it's usually the greenest and prettiest. Friendly people, interesting and little known medieval history, beautiful countryside and two wonderful rivers, the Lot and the Dordogne.

    Venice and areas north in the Prosecco and Dolomite regions -- but definitely in the off-season! Rome. The area around Lucca in Tuscany.

    Cape Cod in the autumn is great and not too buggy!

    Bavaria! Some of the best food anywhere and the fresh water fish is to die for ... Recommend the Saibling and Renkin -- And Kaffee und Kuchen in the afternoon -- good, but you may die for!! And then there is the scenery to top it all off!

  10. I would love to recommend some parts of Mexico, where we lived for nearly 5 years, but I'm not sure I'd even cross the border today.

    Austin, Texas and the Hill Country to the west is great. Music of all kinds in Austin, great food, a statue of Stevie Ray Vaughn, Rick Perry. Oh wait, it's not all good! And San Antonio with its river walk is only about 75 miles away.

  11. 1 - Las Vegas. If you haven't been there, and do decide that it would be fun, let me know. I'll try to give you some decent tips, both on accomodations/food/entertainment and on not losing your shirt gambling. I know a fair amount concerning both.

    2 - New York City. Again, I'd be happy to give you some good choices for lodging and entertainment, as well as provide you a detailed guide to exploring the best rides on the subway system, if you're into that sort of thing.

    3 - Boston. I live in the area, so there must be something good about it. As you might expect, I can provide info about good meals, touristy things, and the subway (although not about lodging, as I don't live in a hotel.)

    4 - London. Marvelous city, with the best subway system in my experience as a traveller (you may be getting the idea that I like subways, and that is true.)

    5 - Amsterdam. I enjoyed it greatly. That was many years ago, as a teenager, but it is even better now, if you like certain weeds.

    6 - New Hampshire. The White Mountains during fall foliage, specifically. Again, if you decide on such a trip, let me know and I'll try to help with details.

  12. Umbria and Tuscany in Italy in the spring or autumn. My bit of France (Lower Normandy) for its gentle greenness and lack of crowds, even in summer. Plenty of history, recent too, especially if you have any interest in the Battle for Normandy in WW2. The UK has a lot going for it too. :-)

  13. I think folks that live in the U.S. often forget about the U.S. when planning a trip. There are many places I've enjoyed right here in the states and the first would be San Antonio, Texas. There's the Alamo and the famous river walk. It's just a beautiful city.

    Another fun place is Denver, Colorado. It's the mile high city with tons of entertainment.

    Have a terrific time deciding where you want to vacation. :)

  14. I recommend the Alaska panhandle in August. My uncle used to live in Ketchikan. Lots to see there, and then you can take the ferry to Juneau and visit the Mendenhall Glacier. Or book a cruise through the Inside Passage.

  15. Provence to Tuscany--gorgeous, delicious and wonderful climate in spring and summer

    Alaska-Anchorage south to the Kenai peninsula. The drive along the coast-the Trunagain Arm is without peer. Denali to the north is spectacular as well.

    Kenya-The Masai Mara and Samburu Land along the northern rift valley. some say it could have been the garden of Eden. Stars at night that surround you like a bowl. Hundreds of miles of vistas during the day with all manner of wild game in the foreground.

    The Swiss Wine country-almost a secret. From Lausanne to Montreaux.
    Cully and the surrounding terraced vineyards are spectacular.

  16. I love your idea - vacation planning by blogging!

    If you are thinking of vacationing in the U.S., why not give Niagara Falls a try? It's good for a day; you could visit Buffalo as well. Buffalo is a highly underrated city - I used to live there and still miss some aspects of it. While we lived there, I would visit Toronto if I wanted to get a little homesick for something European. Toronto has a very European flair about it, and it's only 1 1/2 hours from the Buffalo-Niagara area.

    And yes, what several people said about Bavaria. It is a little bit like Texas is to the U.S. - everything is bigger and better and smarter in Bavaria. I should know, I was born and grew up there. I've never been to Prague, but that would be a few hours' drive from anywhere in Bavaria.

    Oh, this is such a fun post!

  17. My idea is plan a world tour without leaving any single place in this world.

  18. Thanks Chatterbox -- I picked up a few good ideas here! My suggestion: Go visit some family you haven't seen in a long time, wherever they may be. Or, at least go someplace where you won't be a tourist -- b/c when you're a tourist it doesn't matter where you are, you're just getting the tourist experience.

  19. Definitely South Coast of England - I might be tempted to make you a Napple Blanket to pick up!!! Hehehe!

  20. I like to visit my neighbor's dinner table, but, you know, that's just me.

  21. We did an Alaskan cruise to Ketchikan and glacier bay. Very nice.
    Have you been to MSM (like in your photo?) we spent a month driving around France and it was great - follow the Rick Steve guide, hit small towns and it isn't too expensive. We had to book a room on MSM months in advance (not many rooms on the rock as it is more of a day trip), but stay right there if you can.
    Or do England - cheep rooms at the University, lots of museums, trains to Oxford and hit all the pubs you seen on TV

  22. You have to visit the Lake District in the North of England where you can see William Wordsworth's house in Grasmere. They had an exhibition of Japanese calligraphy there last summer for some bizarre reason, but I am sure that this year they will have recovered their senses.

  23. I've never heard a bad word about New Zealand or Australia and I can't wait to return to Switzerland. (A 24 hr layover just isn't enough)

  24. I can second China as a place to visit (I don't recommend living here except to the seriously masochistic).

    Hangzhou is nice in late spring or very early summer; mid-summer it hits up to 45°C (115°F) with a humidity of 80-90%. Expect walks along the lake with gorgeous classical Chinese scenery (willows and pagodas and the like) as well as a thriving tea culture (more tea houses per square kilometer than anywhere else in the world I suspect). I lived there for 7 years and am still only a 2 hour drive away.

    Beijing is very touristy and Shanghai is a soulless, concrete monstrosity. I don't recommend either.

    Kunming in the Yunan province of China is beautiful (warm climate/mountains). Chengdu in Sichuan is lovely as well (pandas/spicy food/Tibetans). Generally speaking the further you go from the East coast of China the more enjoyable your experience will be (although with fewer modern conveniences, generally speaking).

    Reading back over my post I think I may have contracted a case of parentheticitis (Oh my).

  25. Thanks everyone for the great ideas. Your suggestions covered the globe and gave me and Mrs. Chatterbox a lot to think about. We'll be putting our heads together in the coming weeks to decide on a location. I'll keep you informed.

  26. I was going to tell you Alaska, but then I read the caveat thet one has to ave gone there. So put that idea aside-I'll let you know once I have been there.
    A place that we have gone to over the years is Mexico. We usually travel in November and no matter where we go it is great! Zihuatanejo, Oaxaca, Guanajuato, Queretaro,Sayulita, Loreto, Puerto Vallarta and Bucerias to name a few. They are all different- some are big cities some are beach just depends on what you like and enjoy as to where you go. And we cannot praise the First Clsss Bus system in Mexico. We could learn a lot from them! I have oodles of info if you want ...have fun where ever you go!

  27. i can recommend bali in indonesia. i've been going there for over ten years. i always find something new and interesting on my travels. get away from the touristy south and enjoy the peace and beauty of the country side. it's a country rich in culture and spirituality. just don't drink the water :)