Top 5 Favorite Places in the World (from my travels)

It’s been an eventful few days around the ole Gorman homestead (so I decided to do a travel Top 5…go with me on this).

First, we had a wonderful Thanksgiving with a house full of my favorite people and entirely too much food. A great kickoff to the holidays, one thing I’m always happy about is that Thanksgiving heralds the days where it is socially acceptable to (a) listen to Christmas music and (b) set my house ablaze with Christmas lights.

To the latter end came the second big event of the weekend when I fell off a ladder hanging said lights. Though I only fell about 10 feet, sprained my neck and my right side is covered with deep bruises, I consider myself incredibly lucky. My head landed roughly six inches from a metal decorative fence which comes to a point at the top. I don’t actually remember the fall short of knowing the ground beneath the back foot of the ladder gave way leading to the fatal imbalance, I do remember the smack of my head against the turf and being relieved when it did. Then proceeding to pull a piece of the bush that broke a portion of my fall out of my ass, my systems check showed battered (both body and ego), but generally okay.

My general soreness has worsened since arriving home last night and finding out my furnace had given out on one of the coldest nights of the year (28 degrees). The cold settling into my body, I’ve stiffened up considerably over the last 24 hours. Blankets and space heaters aside, the quality of the heat just isn’t quite right in my house to heat through a person. They’re saying a part needs to be ordered; this sounds quite dubious to me. I have the feeling we will be sans furnace for the next few days.

With travel and warm beaches on my mind and not being terribly happy with my house at this point, I present to you Jack’s Top 5 favorite places in the world…that are not home, which is almost always my favorite place anywhere. Not all of these are warm, but those that aren’t presumably have better furnaces than I do right now, and many I’ve only travelled to once, so consider my opinions highly subjective and suspect (like you didn’t already).

Top 5 Favorite Places in the World (not including my own home)
5. Grand Canal – Venice, Italy
Venice is a love it or hate it kind of city; those I’ve known who travel there fall into one of those two categories and that’s generally about it. Venice is one of the most unique cities in the world because it has no cars and of course a ton of water. Like most Italian cities, there’s a ton of great cafes, wonderful food and terrific weather. There’s few places you can travel to so conducive to having a good time as Italy, except maybe…

4. Arnauds Bistro – New Orleans, Louisiana
Set right in the heart of Bourbon Street, Arnauds is my favorite restaurant in perhaps the world’s most unique city to have a meal. You’ll find a ton of different food, all great, in New Orleans which you won’t find elsewhere. But, on the Bistro side of the restaurant, you’ll find live music with a band that’s been playing wonderful jazz there for decades, and a wall of windows facing the never-ending party of travelers that is Rue Bourbon. Sit back, enjoy the food, listen to the music and watch the world go by.

3. Little Governor’s Camp – Masai Mara, Kenya
In 2005, my father and I travelled to Africa on a photo safari, and this was by far the best. Settled right in the center of the great migration between Kenya and Tanzania, the area is teeming with diverse wildlife, and the guides know how to get you right up close and personal with all of it. There I witnessed a cheetah hunt, kill and eat a gazelle; a lioness brush up against my arm while playing with her cubs and, well, lion sex (which is pretty damned funny, actually). An elephant stomped through the middle of our lunch one day at the camp, while a warthog took over our porch one morning. Loved every minute of my time there.

2. Cannery Row – Monterey, California
For some reason, I’ve always found great peace in walking up and down Cannery Row, so much so that this is where I eventually chose to be married. There’s great wine from the local vineyards, the ocean laps up against the very buildings you shop in, and of course the world’s best clam chowder (served in a bread bowl, of course); worth the travel all on its own..

1. Central Otago, New Zealand
This is the least specific location on my list, because Central Otago is a large section of the South Island, and it’s all wonderful. There’s lake after lake, mountain after mountain, all beautiful and all unique. Some of the world’s best wine comes from the area, and all the wineries and people are incredibly welcoming, no matter where you travel. Queenstown, the largest city of the region, is a fun little burg with lots of great shops, restaurants and scenery. One thing no one tells you about New Zealand is how great the food is. Organic and completely natural, there’s just more taste and substance to the food in the land down under Down Under than you find most anywhere you can travel, including the United States.