I have a few places that have stuck with me over the years, places where I find comfort and solace, or just had a really good time. Here’s a list.
The Isle of Man
I visited here in May 2009 on a whim, and ever since I’ve had a special place in my heart for all things Manx. It’s such a wonderfully time-frozen place; riding a steam train or electric tram through towns, past seaside towns that feel trapped in the 1960s, then getting blown past by a modern racing motorbike practising for the TT races. It’s a land of contrasts, wonderful people, and a fantasy atmosphere.
The Outer Banks of North Carolina
Perhaps more than anywhere else, this is my “home from home.” Since August 2000, my family and I have spent summers, New Year, and Easter in Corolla countless times. Every time I drive over the Wright Memorial Bridge, I get a feeling that I’m home, the familiar sights along NC-12 flying by on the northward drive. And while many people enjoy the OBX in summer, my favourite time is in December when we spend Christmas in the same house every year, on a quiet barrier island.
I love the whole state of Maine, but there’s something great about the quiet, desolate area northeast of Bar Harbor. Just a bit off the beaten path, and a day-and-a-half drive from New York, it feels so far and yet so close. Surrounded by blueberry bushes, rolling through hills with logging trucks passing by, it feels like the real Maine, and so different from the areas south of Portland and around Penobscot Bay. One of the most moving nights of my life was spent in Lubec, Maine, the easternmost town in America in an old lifesaving station, realising this was in fact the end of America.
Long Beach, California
Obviously, a large part of my love for Long Beach is because it’s the permanent home of one of my favourite ships, Queen Mary. But over the four times I’ve gone to visit Mary there, I’ve gotten to know the town well enough that I feel like a bit of a local. I have friends there that I can see whenever I go and visit the ship, and I know my way around the whole town. It also has a gorgeous harbour, best viewed from the Boat Deck of Queen Mary.
Hythe, Hampshire, England
This is a fantastic place in England that I cannot tell you any more about why. I love it so much, and it is such a personally special place, that I don’t want to put any more online about it.