JULIA SPENCER-FLEMING: Except for Lucy's Wednesday visit from Key West, it's been all cold weather all the time here at JRW. And even Lucy was talking about a scene that takes place on a cold gray day on the water! Well, the heck with that. Now is the time to crank that under-the-desk heater, pull out your back issues of TRAVEL + LEISURE magazine, and start planning your imaginary getaway to the sun.
Since I'm not going to be able to take a real vacation until after I've paid off the last tuition bill, I let myself go whole hog on my fantasy trips. Five-star luxury hotels? Sure! Concierge tours? You bet! Stay an extra week? Oh, all right. Needless to say, since it's been all arctic air for the past few weeks, my imaginary trips lean heavily to warm spots. "So, Julia," I hear you saying, "Where would you go if you won the lottery tomorrow?" I'm glad you asked.
If we're taking a family vacation with two college students and 13-year-old Youngest, there's only one place that will thrill us all: New Zealand. Of course, we'll all travel via Air New Zealand's Premiere Business Class (the seats lay flat so you can sleep!) I was happy to discover the average temperature in Christchurch in February is 70 degrees F, dropping down to a comfortable 52 at night. Perfect weather for hiking, kayaking, exploring glaciers and taking in the sites where LORD OF THE RINGS and THE HOBBIT were filmed.
While I go to the museums in Auckland and the art galleries in Wellington, Ross and the girls can go whale or penguin watching and The Boy can try bungy jumping off the Auckland Harbor bridge. We'll stay in farm bed and breakfasts and luxury hotels and stuff ourselves on lamb and seafood.
True, I may never get any closer to this trip than having a slideshow of NZ scenes on my desktop, but it's nice to dream. How about you, Reds? Where are you fantasy holidays located?
DEBORAH CROMBIE: Yes, NZ is on my list! My brother and sister-in-law are there now, on their live-aboard sailboat. And that African luxury safari. And the Orient Express from London to Istanbul. All first class, all the way, if we're allowed to fantasize.... And how about a luxury cruise around the Mediterranean?
Ever since I researched the English waterways for Water Like a Stone, I've wanted to take a narrowboat holiday. But I think I need a lackey to work the locks...
HANK PHILLIPPI RYAN: Paris, Paris, Paris. No-holds-barred, anything you want Paris. With behind the scenes,and museums and fashions and food and shopping and total immersion French. Merci!.
And of course,the Orient Express! How it used to be, right? With tea and staterooms.
And then maybe no-hold-barred Florence. With behind the scenes,and museums and fashions and food and shopping and total immersion Italian. Grazie!
JULIA: Hank, I'm sure you know this, but one of the routes the Venice-Simplon Orient Express takes is Paris to Venice. Talk about getting there being half the fun... and of course, there's no baggage limit on the Orient Express, so you can shop 'til you drop in both cities.
RHYS BOWEN: I only have one major item on my bucket list and that's an African Safari. Still trying to persuade John that lions will not bite off his toes as he sleeps. I also wanted to do a narrowboat holiday, Debs, but we decided the locks were too much work. But I can always be lured back to Paris, and Venice and I am doing a really nice cruise this summer in the Mediterranean, so no complaints.
JULIA: Rhys, Ross and I went on a seventeen day safari back in '98 and it was amazing. No lions came and nibbled our toes (they are actually supremely lazy and avoid humans when they can) but an elephant did stroll over and look into the open-air shower where I was washing up!
How about you, dear readers? Where would you go if time and treasure were no object?