Travel Issue: Heavens and hells

Question: What place would you most like to go back to? What's the last place on earth you'd ever want to see again?

Colleen McElroy, poet, University of Washington professor, and author of the travel memoir A Long Way from St. Louie

Got to get back: It’s a tie between Majorca and Madagascar, for very different reasons. But then, I like Morocco too.

Never going back: Yugoslavia. They would have to change drastically, and they seem to have gotten worse. I would describe it as Mississippi in the ’50s.

Scott McCaughey, musician, the Young Fresh Fellows, Minus Five, and R.E.M.

Go: The place I always wanna go is Spain, because it is rock ‘n’ roll.

No Go: I tend to find the enjoyable aspect of places even if they’re totally miserable. I’m gonna say there’s no place I’d never go back to. I guess I haven’t been to hell and back.

Phil Borges, photographer, author of Tibet: The Power of Compassion and Enduring Spirit

Go: The southern Omo River area in Ethiopia, a beautiful country maligned so much—because of the war, few people think of going there. I loved the tribes there, especially the Mursi, but I was only able to see a portion because a bridge had washed out.

No Go: Srinagar, Kashmir, the scariest place I’ve ever been. It was, and is, at war. Forty to 50 people are killed every day there. A couple of weeks after I was there, they kidnapped four travelers, including one from Spokane. They killed the Norwegian fellow—beheaded him.

Kate Pflaumer, US attorney, Seattle

Go: The Trobriand Islands off Papua New Guinea on a brigantine tall ship.

No Go: The upper berth on the third-class coach on the night train from Jodhpur to Agra in India.

Knute Berger, editor, Seattle Weekly

Go: Hiking the Imbros Gorge on Crete, a fragrant, cave-lined crack in the earth where twisted trees, vines, and wildflowers spill into the dry bed of a stream that once flowed from the mountains to the Libyan Sea.

No Go: Newport News, Virginia. We were in town five minutes in 1972 before we were detained and threatened by police who suspected us of planning to rob a movie theater (of all things) because we took a photo of it. “That’s a good way to get yourself shot, boy,” said one Southern-fried cop. Welcome to Dixie, hippie.

Kim Warnick, musician, the Fastbacks

Go: There’s two for different reasons: One for paradise and fun in the sun is a little fishing village in Belize, and I think it’s called Placentia. The other place, the most charming place I’ve ever been is Brugge, Belgium, because I’m a sucker for all the little canals.

No Go: I’ve never really had a hard time anywhere. The only place I’d never want to drive across again is Texas. I like Austin, but I don’t like the rest of it.

Peter Potterfield, editor & publisher, The Mountain Zone

Go: Patagonia, where oceans, cultures, and the world’s most beautiful mountains converge in a glorious (if windy) way.

No Go: Uptight Lukla, Nepal, the last airstrip on the way in and out from Mount Everest, where waiting for the Twin Otters to get in through the fog for the flight out to Kathmandu can erase the serenity earned over six weeks’ Buddhist-colored meanderings in the Himalayas.

King Cushman, director of transportation planning, Puget Sound Regional Council

Go: India. It’s such a diverse place, we look almost homogeneous by comparison. The people are really warm, there’s incredible history, unbelievable geography. I happen to love the food too; from north to south it changes completely.

No Go: Newark, New Jersey. I grew up not far from there and it’s really changed. . . . It’s amazing the way the architecture expresses a lack of security. Office parking lots surrounded with razor wire.

Deborah Jacobs, Seattle City librarian

Go: I really like Elko, Nevada, but Brooklyn is my favorite place to go back to. I lived there in a previous life.

No go: Bellevue. I’m a Seattle girl.

Speight Jenkins, general director, Seattle Opera

Go: I love Vienna.

No Go: Don’t ever go to Hanover when the fair is on. I don’t know what kind of fair it is. I happened to hit it and paid three times the original price of the hotel, which wasn’t even worth it at the original cost.

If you want to understand nothing that people say to you, then go to Glasgow. The accent. . . . Nowhere have I had as much trouble with language. Totally incomprehensible. I remember asking, “Can anyone speak French?”

Mark Morris, dancer/ choreographer

Go: Heaven.

No Go: Brussels.

Marcy Sillman, senior producer, KUOW’s Weekday

Go: To Cinqueterra, for light, food, and vino.

No Go: I’d never go back to Santander, Spain. I was really sick there.

Philip Wohlstetter, writer, translator, former Cinemath豵e proprietor

Go: Chile before September 11, 1973.

No Go: Chile on September 11, 1973.

Kimberly Brown, travel editor, Amazon.com

Go: The Corcovado Lodge Tent Camp along Costa Rica’s Pacific Coast—where you sleep a few feet from the pounding surf. It’s extremely hot and humid, but if you’re starved for sun and the sight of scarlet macaws, and don’t mind roughing it a bit, it’s heaven.

No Go: Amtrak’s Coast Startlight Express to Los Angeles. I loved the idea, but after 40-plus hours on the train I don’t plan to board again any time soon.

Tom Robins, author

Go: Having had the good fortune to have visited Paris, Coney Island, Patpong, Timbuktu and Sidi Tom-Tom, Louisiana (the only town in America without a zip code), the lone travel prospect that still sets my thyroid to pumping is the possibility of someday rocketing through a cosmic wormhole into a parallel universe.

No Go: You’d have to jam an Uzi in my ribs to persuade me to spend a second evening at Manhattan’s “romantic” and “elegant” Caryle Hotel. The overpriced food was mediocre, the maitre d’ pompously rude (even though I was on my best behavior), and the celebrated bistro bowtie-sattva, Bobby Short, had a soulless, heartless way with a song that only a New York socialite or an out-of-town hype victim could possibly appluad.


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