Think about your most memorable vacation. where did you go What makes it special to you? We asked five travel writers to share their favorite vacation spots and how to plan similar experiences.
The year after my wife passed away, I took my son Harrison to Japan.
For most of Harrison’s high school years, we both cared for his mother, who was battling a rare brain disorder. After her funeral, we stumbled in our daily lives and discovered a way to move forward, just the two of us.
Once again we were on the cusp of change. He started college and I am about to face an empty nest. I was trying to show my son how I could see. The message felt urgent now, as freshman orientation loomed. It seemed like his last chance to shape his worldview.
But is Japan an unfamiliar country with no language or customs going too far? In the next two weeks we will see.
At the airport station, I stopped before a vast map of Tokyo’s transportation system, winding and intertwining routes through the city of 14 million people. I was silent for a while trying to find a route to my downtown hotel. However, as has happened time and time again during my wife’s illness and while traveling, someone steered us in the right direction.
From the chaos of the morning fish market to the luxury goods of department stores, we quickly started learning about the city. Cavernous electronics stores, sidewalk computer vendors, and towering billboards bathed the streets in midday glare at midnight.
One evening we had ramen at a small cafe in a back alley near the main train station in Tokyo. The next day we visited the Studio Ghibli Museum which showcases animated films that have delighted my son and his mother.
Then I hopped on the Shinkansen to see more of the country. For several days we hiked the Kumano Kodo pilgrimage route. There, the guide instructed us to lie down in a pine grove and meditate. She called it forest bathing. That night, we soaked in the steam of an old-fashioned hot spring resort.
One day at Osaka’s giant Kaiyukan, Harrison showed us how to take selfies with penguins peering over our shoulders, who seemed eager to participate in a photo shoot. Another afternoon he saw me at Kiyomizu-dera Temple in Kyoto as he safely navigated a path between two stones. Tradition says that the one who closes his eyes and crosses them finds true love.I doubted that after losing my wife of 22 years.
On our last night in Japan, we lavishly stayed at the legendary Park Hyatt Hotel in Tokyo, the filming location for the Bill Murray and Scarlett Johansson movies. lost in translationFor dinner, we reserved a table at the New York Grill on the 52nd floor of the hotel.
I knew my son would one day dine with a potential boss or enjoy a sumptuous meal with his fiancée’s parents. I wanted him to understand that I shouldn’t scare him, even if it was.
I flew home the next day. 36 hours later I drove him to college.
As a single parent, I was concerned about neglecting to teach during my wife’s illness and after her death. However, I have learned as much as my son from his two weeks of crisscrossing Japan. The world can be tragic and confusing, but it also offers unimaginable wonders.
Larry Breiburg is a former president of the Travel Writers Association of America and lives in Charlottesville, Virginia.
John Muir Trail, California
A few years ago, on a long, steep climb to the top of a pine-covered pass on California’s John Muir Trail, I stopped on the ground and fell over a rock. My back hurts and my toes throb from carrying a 28 lb backpack up and down the mountain for over a week. I hadn’t seen a flush toilet in 100 miles and hadn’t reached for a soft mattress in a long time. Two days ago, I wrote the following sentence in my diary.
As much as I love the dirt and rivers and trails through the golden grass meadows and glacier-carved valleys, I was overwhelmed. what was i doing I thought she was 52 and she wasn’t 20 or 40 anymore. Moreover, at that moment I was hungry and thirsty. “I can’t,” I told her husband. “This is too hard. “But look at it,” he said. “We left from there this morning and here we are.”
he was right That glittering dime was visible a million miles away. I had traveled a long distance in a few hours, but the steps I took weren’t too difficult. What seemed impossible was the whole trip as a whole.
We were able to keep moving forward. And I did. Over the next 100 miles, I stepped onto ice-cold alpine lakes, admired the streams that flowed through the fields like blue scarves, and walked across the Bighorn Plateau, which seemed to be the only flat spot in the entire 200 miles. embraced the bleak beauty of root. I ate dry food that tasted like the best food on earth and felt the sense of accomplishment that I had finally reached the end of the trail on the other side of Mount Whitney.