Published on October 24, 2004 By Angloesque In Blogging
These are mine, in no particular order:

#10 Canterbury Road -- Oxford, England
This is where I lived the semester I attended Oxford. There were 20 of us Americans squashed into three upper floors; our resident director Greg "Grendel" lived in the basement. We shared a kitchen, three bathrooms but one shower, a common room, a computer room, and a payphone in the lobby. It was grand. My two roommates and I lived on the top floor and we had one of those windowboxes/balconies, the kind that's not big enough to be a balcony and is definitely not zoned to be one, where we'd go and smoke. Grendel had a wife and two small children and was he a cranky man! He was also a Baptist and proselytized to us when he was bored. We had to tiptoe around in the common room if we were ever up past ten or else risk him raging up the stairs in whitey tighties and yelling at us for waking his children/wife/self, then he'd sit down and tell us why we were going to hell. (He was American, also, though an ex-pat who was unaffiliated with our program.) Some days we'd sit in the CR and watch BBC, and most of us stayed up late to catch the 2000 presidential election...which didn't end until we went home. I only ever tried cigarettes there, and not when I went home. It felt...cultural...to smoke in England. We were all about 20 or 21 and had major intellectual, cultural, religious differences and discussions. With the exception of Grendel, I respected each of them and their beliefs, and hope I always will.

Oxford itself is gorgeous. The many colleges have beautiful grounds, and the parks are all well-kept (though don't be walking in there past sundown 'cause some of my friends got locked inside one evening and had to climb over the wrought iron pointy 10-ft tall fence); there's a good open market (whole hog's heads on display); Ben's cookies and G & D's ice cream, the Creperie one street down from our house; Ali's kebob stand; professors and students walking around in their dress robes as they catch a cup of coffee; dinner at the college and all the profs up at the high table; High Street itself with all the old bookshops, coffeeshops, clothing, cafes, and a few pubs; the Eagle & Child on St. Giles, and in north Oxford, the Trout. Parts of Oxford have been used in Harry Potter movies, the movie The Saint, and probably many others; the Bodleian Library is famous, as is the Radcliffe Camera where I spent much of my existential research paper time.... It's invigorating and stimulating and I think you osmose the academia.

The Wallowa Mountains and valley -- Enterprise or Joseph, Oregon
Have you ever driven or walked to a place on earth where you just feel yourself coming home? It is literally peace on earth.

The Middle Fork of the Salmon River -- Idaho
This is the river I first rafted at the age of 6; it's the river I rowed my first raft down at the age of 16 (and 17, 18, and 19); it's where I caught my first fish, fell into my first love; discovered another first; it's where I began to understand conservation efforts: I once made a kid on my raft jump into the water and retrieve a lollipop stick to keep him from polluting, and I washed my hair well above the high water line using biodegradable soap; it's where you can lie in the hot springs and watch stars fall over the canyon walls; there are bighorn sheep, mountain goats if you're lucky, rattlesnakes, rainbow and hybrid cutbow trout (few salmon, sadly), otters and beavers and muskrats and minks; huckleberries and whitewater. I fell in love with water there.

Celilo Falls, Columbia River -- Oregon/Washington border
For this place I harbor a love/hate relationship: I love what Celilo Falls has been: a cultural trade center for Native Americans for hundreds of years, a beautiful falls where one could watch the salmon jump as they headed upstream, where the Native Americans dipnetted the fish and sold them, where Portlanders would drive out to get fresh fish...until 1957 when the Dalles Dam flattened the river and drowned the falls. I've never seen them, and I hate the dams for obscuring my view even though I appreciate the power they generate.

The Palouse -- Northern Idaho, Eastern Washington
Rolling grainfields carved by the Lake Missoula floods, unpretentious people, unpretentious way of life; four seasons in their entirety, good snow in the winter; good soil, good crops; it's relaxing and fun here. When we were teenagers, this is where we'd go to the reservoir on Saturday nights, or go 4x4ing up the mountain in my truck, or hang out in town or go cruising. My friends and classmates were farmers' and loggers' kids; few had parents with college degrees. I loved it there.

Missoula and Western Montana
Read or watch "A River Runs Through It." Missoula is a city, sure, but it's got no skyscrapers and the people there don't wear Prada. Or if they do, they should be embarrassed. Once again: unpretentious people living an unpretentious way of life; four seasons; accessible skiing and backpacking and other recreational activities. Western Montana is beautiful--no one can deny that--and it feels intelligent and careful. Much of it is undiscovered, as it should be. A great deal of it is still unpolluted, as it should stay.

Vatuvonu, Fiji
Here are the friendliest, nicest, poorest people in the world. My best friend literally lived in a grass-woven hut with his wife and two kids and new baby. Clearly it is not the pursuit of things that matters but the relationships you have with other people. In Fiji there is a great deal of ...hmm, what's the right word... tension? yes, tension, that exists between the natives and the immigrated Indians, because the Fijians are laid back and peaceful, whereas the Indians are business- and profit-oriented and surly. (My perspective.) We were there in winter and, 60 to 70 degree weather notwithstanding, showered with cold water and didn't swim in the polluted bay, and drank bottled or filtered water until we were accustomed to the regular water. The scuba diving was awesome and we learned to cook their foods and eat whatever fish they felt like spearing. We both helped and disappointed them with our services. I'm not sure I could go back but I loved them and their part of the beautiful world.

Honorable mentions:
Scotland, U.K. (yes, all of it)
Dublin, Ireland & surrounding area (much friendlier than U.K.)
London (busy and fun)
Sydney, Australia (busy and fun)
Belize (fun, great scuba)
Seattle (fun, pretty, but rainy)
British Columbia (beautiful)
Denver (beautiful, city-ish but good proximity to country and mountains)
North Dakota (yes, seriously)
Roslyn & Cle Elum, Washington (small-town comfort with big city easily accessible)

A Forum-Free Post by Angloesque

on Oct 25, 2004
I've never been to any of your top picks... and of the honorable mentions, I've only been briefly to Seattle and driven by Denver... Just so many places in the world that I haven't been yet...
on Oct 26, 2004
Well, if you're ever in the PacNW, I'll be your tour guide. It's gorgeous here, especially now in the fall.

on Oct 27, 2004
You need to come to Melbourne young lady - sure - those places do seem nice, but Melbourne has been voted the worlds most livable city for a reason you know! If it's that good to live here, imagine how good it is to visit!

on Oct 27, 2004
I think I might've been to Melbourne on that Australia trip, but I really don't remember. God, I'm getting old.

Cheers, Mugz. Glad to have you.