7 fantastical travel destinations
By Victor Block
All you need is a bit of imagination
As a travel journalist who has visited and written about nearly 80 countries, the current situation is especially frustrating. However, while my travels are restricted, my imagination isn’t. I’m dreaming about bucket list trips to magical places—some real, some not. Some may even require a time machine.
Lost, magical lands
For anyone who enjoys live theater, what bigger thrill could there be than taking in a Shakespeare play by his troupe in the original Globe Theatre? Unfortunately, that building—which opened in 1599—was destroyed by a blaze started by a prop cannon that misfired during a performance.
However, the current reconstruction, located about 750 feet from the original, continues to offer works by William. But, with the help of a time machine, I’d attend a play at the first auditorium, spotting the Bard and perhaps even chatting with him.
Or, what about diving into the fantastical world of a young girl from Kansas, a talking brainless scarecrow, a tin heartless woodman and a cowardly lion who dreams of being brave? I would love to recreate their journey along the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to meet the supposedly “great and powerful” Wizard of Oz.
Other never-never lands have spots on my fantastical travel wish list. Shangri-La, the paradise conjured up by British author James Hilton in “Lost Horizon,” is located in a valley nestled beneath a mountain range far from the ocean. People in this joyful heaven on earth aged slowly, living for hundreds of years. No wonder the name of the mythical place has become synonymous with utopia. While I wouldn’t expect an imaginary immersion to lengthen my lifespan, I’d treasure the opportunity to enjoy some bliss there for even a brief time.
And then there are the myths. Who wouldn’t wish to check out an island-nation founded by demigods, inhabited by exotic animals and festooned with magnificent plant life? Plato’s fictional city of Atlantis served as an example of human hubris: it was submerged into the ocean when its inhabitants became too arrogant and prideful for the deities. Despite the allegorical underpinning of Plato’s work, some semi-scientific sleuths have speculated that Atlantis actually existed and have conducted expeditions to find it—so far unsuccessfully.
The fabled city of Troy may be the most famous city in the history of the world, due largely in part to Homer’s “The Iliad.” The story relates a mythical telling of the Trojan War which, depending upon the source, took place sometime during the 13th and 11th centuries BC.
In truth, there was a city of Troy located in present-day Turkey and there may even have been a Battle of Troy, although many historians believe it referred to repeated sieges of the settlement during the Bronze Age (approximately 3300-1200 BC). The city was attacked, destroyed and rebuilt a number of times. While it’s possible to visit ruins that have been uncovered through archaeological excavations, it’s impossible to know which reincarnation of Troy they represent. My preference would be to walk the streets of the famous and fabled site when it was at its heyday.
Another experience I’d relish is passing time with the Knights of the Round Table in King Arthur’s court. The legendary Arthur and city of Camelot where he reigned were introduced in French romances during the 12th century. The writings placed them in Great Britain, sometimes associated with real cities. Whether the legends are based in truth or not, it would be fascinating to share war stories with the likes of Sir Lancelot, Sir Gawain and their associates in arms.
As a nature enthusiast, I couldn’t pass up a stroll through the Hanging Gardens of Babylon. It’s no wonder that the enchanting oasis of floating terraces, lush greenery and cascading streams was included by Herodotus in his list of classic Seven Wonders of the World. The story of the Gardens was perpetuated in Greek and Roman lore, and some historians continue their search for literal seeds of truth to the tales.
Last but not least on my aspirational travel bucket list: Mars. While Mars actually does exist, it’s questionable whether and when humans will be able to visit there, much less survive. Despite similarities to Earth’s length of the day, comparable seasons and the presence of water, the roadblocks on our celestial neighbor are many. Both the atmosphere and soil on the Red Planet are toxic, the climate is much colder and severe storms can block sunlight for weeks. Despite these challenges, or perhaps because of them, Mars is included in my list of places I would like to visit, but never will.