We settled into our seats on the overnight flight from Los Angeles to Fiji’s Nadi International Airport. It didn’t take long to fall asleep. We woke to have a meal, watch a movie and start our novels. Before we knew it, it was time to land.
I headed south from San Jose, using my GPS to travel into the hills above Cupertino and the Silicon Valley. After twenty minutes of switchback roads that carried me through thick stands of dusty pine trees and across sunbaked hills, I arrived at my destination.
My last moment at the Hotel Eden Roc Ascona was exactly where I began my stay, standing on the balcony of my room. Both days were identical. The sun was shining. I had a clear view of Lake Maggione and Monte Gambarogno.
My visits to Japan always focused on Tokyo, that massively energetic, noisy, wonderful mega-city. And, yet, here I was a 90-minute flight south from Tokyo on Shikoku Island, standing on the Godai-san Observation Deck (Godai-san Tenbodai), looking down on the city of Kochi.
I didn't know what to say. The master of ceremonies pointed at me. He was dressed in a brightly colored red and white Japanese folk costume. He wanted volunteers to join his Awa No Kaze dancers on the stage.
Shrines and temples are at the heart of Japanese culture. Some are in cities like the majestic Meiji Shrine in busy Tokyo or the 1,600 Buddhist and 400 Shinto shrines in quiet Kyoto. Others are tucked away in forests on distant mountain tops.
Before I left for Mallorca, all I knew about the island was that it was off Spain's Mediterranean coast. And that it was the largest of the four Balearic Islands that are popular destinations because of the beaches, beautiful landscape and warm weather.
Palm trees, bright skies, bruschetta, burrata, pear tarts, cannoli and espresso on a hotel terrace facing a lake. Italy, right? Sure, but that also describes Switzerland in the southern region known as Ticino.
One of Zurich's premium destinations, Hotel Baur au Lac is a member of Swiss Deluxe Hotels and the Leading Hotels of the World. The hotel has gained a reputation for its quality of service and the comfort of its rooms.