Patricia Schultz, author/editor of the best-selling series 1,000 Places To See Before You Die, is a terrific guest. On this super-size 25th episode, she and Lea share stories, experiences and info about favorite places around the world.
-- Patricia first tells when she started traveling, and how the "1,000 Places" brand came to be, about 20 years ago.
-- Then she and Lea alternate with some of their very favorite places -- continents, countries, man-made and natural sites -- adding their own experiences to each other's.
-- Favorite places include Antarctica; Antelope Canyon in Arizona; Beacon, New York; Bali,Indonesia; Italy, focused on Florence; Barcelona, Spain; Istanbul, Turkey; Galapagos Islands, Ecuador; Cuba; the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, UAE; Iran; Iguacu Falls; Laos; Namibia; the "stans," especially Uzbekestan; Paris and New York;and the upland gorillas in Uganda.
-- Patricia ends with a touching memory about the most important travel aspect of all.
Patricia Schultz is a veteran travel journalist who has written travel guides, magazine and newspaper articles as well as authoring her best-selling 1.000 Places series, with millions of copies in print. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Podcast host Lea Lane blogs at forbes.com, has traveled to over 100 countries, written nine books, including Places I Remember, and contributed to guidebooks. She's @lealane on Twitter; Travelea on Insta; on Facebook, it's Places I Remember by Lea Lane. Website: placesirememberlealane.com. Please follow, rate and review this weekly travel podcast!
* Podcast edited for clarity.
Lea Lane 00:04
Hi, I'm Lea Lane, an award-winning travel writer and author of Places I Remember: Tales, Truths, Delights from 100 Countries. On this podcast we share conversations with travelers about fascinating destinations and memorable experiences around the world. We're going to have fun on this our 25th episode of places I remember, our guest is Patricia Schultz, author of the iconic New York Times bestselling series 1000 places to see before you die. She's got another book coming next year about why we travel so look for that one as well. Patricia, you and I are both seasoned travel writers and between us we've been probably almost everywhere people want to travel. And we have lots of suggestions and opinions about lots of places. When did you start traveling?
Patricia Schultz 00:54
You know, my first memory ever, I was four years old. Is that early enough?
Lea Lane 01:00
Patricia Schultz 01:01
But you know, it was something very standard, unremarkable for many people. It was the Jersey Shore. It was our standard yearly August pilgrimage to Atlantic City before the casinos before Snooky. Before all of a lovely organized, you know, we could always count on it. I was always packed in in the backseat of the station wagon a week in advance. But it was like the biggest event of my year, I thought I was the luckiest kid. So that was my venture beyond my bubble. Was it extravagant? Was it International? No, but I just thought it was the coolest thing to remove myself from you know, the same old, same old.
Lea Lane 01:43
Exactly. And to some people that Jersey Shore is exotic. It is always, I'd love to go back. Yeah, what started the brand 1000 Places?
Patricia Schultz 01:52
You know, I had been working for travel guides and doing my, you know, periodicals, publications was all before the internet, online social media outlets, etc. And I fell into the orbit of Peter Workman who ultimately became my publisher, the founder of Workman Publishing. And we sat and brainstormed about this idea that we both shared. And that was to compile and collect this remarkable list of wonderful places everywhere in the world from you know, the very well known, you know, all the Taj Mahal halls and the Metropolitan Opera rows and the Grand Canyons and the Sioux Falls. But also all of these very humble unknown way off the beaten track, may be entirely undiscovered places and make this incredible mix that would inspire people those, you know, very veteran and traveled and those who were just starting out and didn't even know where to start. So I was so lucky. I mean, it was really the greatest stroke of luck in my life to a found Peter workman who was relatively traveled. But more so was enthusiastic and passionate about this realization that travel is important. And it's ours to have if you find it in yourself to get you know, out the front door, which is often the most difficult part. You know, the rest is like you just go with the flow. But making it happen can be very daunting to some people. Where do you start? Where do I go? How do you like fall? And that's true. Do I travel alone?
Lea Lane 03:33
Well, you you've helped with your series, I think many, many people have used it. Let's have some fun. Right now you choose some of your favorite places in the world, whether it's a country or region, a city or attraction, and I will too, and let's alternate and discuss and we'll go alphabetically, you go first.
Patricia Schultz 03:51
Well, you know that this is the most daunting question. Because usually, it's the place you've just returned from that's still you know, foremost in your memory. Um, you can still remember people's names or the name of a restaurant you went to until it becomes just this glorious blur, but something that will forever stand out my mind because it's simply unlike any other places on the planet. And that is Antarctica, and I've gone relatively recently, I've dreamt about it my entire life. It's not inexpensive. It's not easy to get there. But it's just one of those places that you simply have to see to believe, because it is that astonishing. And is that incredibly beautiful, poetic, mysterious, glorious, and the bottom of the world as if you know a forgotten planet.
Lea Lane 04:43
I agree. I was lucky enough to go there myself and I felt I was a guest in another realm. It was the animals who live there and I was only coming in and it was a different feeling. It's humbling. It is, I will mention there is a way to get a less expensive way I think, if you go to Ushuaia, there are places you can sort of get last minute tickets.
Patricia Schultz 05:06
Yeah, there were a lot of people on our ship that just kind of running around to Schweiger going into the same agencies would say, come back tomorrow or come back on Thursday. And sure enough, they're, you know, in the cabin next to ours. So good on them.
Lea Lane 05:23
Yeah, I think people should know that there. There are ways now to go there. But if you can, in your lifetime, you're not probably going to go many times. But I agree. And Arctic is one of the great places. So it's my turn. I'll start with something called antelope slot canyon. Have you been there? Yes, yes, it's surreal. It's just one of the most beautiful places I have ever been. A slot canyon doesn't look like much from the outside. But you go into it, the water has carved into the stone. It's on Navajo land near Page, Arizona, near Lake Powell. And you go into this unbelievable world of swirls and colors, purples and oranges. And you just feel like you're in a dream. The best time to visit it is midday, because there's light coming through especially the upper, the upper Canyon, the upper antelope slot canyon, there are two of them, the upper one is more narrow at the top. So you get these wonderful light beams coming through if you come through in the mid day. And I think spring or fall might be the best time to go there because it's not as hot. But you will never forget this. I highly recommend it. What do you think Patricia?
Patricia Schultz 06:30
You know, that whole area of America is just being overwhelmed at the moment because everybody who's choosing to travel domestically this summer, instead of traveling internationally, is discovering what we have here in our backyard. And that's the Four Corners area and all of the Red Rock country in the slot canyons and, and Grand Canyon, which is also usually part of that whole circuit and Horseshoe Bend. And it's just we're so fortunate we're so and actually a big plus is that you can only visit with a Navajo guy, there were a lot of people who I suppose are disappointed. They just can't strike off on their own and go independently. But you do you know what you were saying before about feeling like you are an uninvited guest you are on their sacred territory. And you understand in a nanosecond why they consider it sacred because it is just so unlike naturally, unlike anything you've ever seen before. God bless America. What we have is just yeah, very lucky.
Lea Lane 07:33
So what's your next one?
Patricia Schultz 07:34
Um, well, I went upstate New York to my hometown, because if you don't go home at the end of all of this to kind of digest what you've experienced, you often don't really create the proper perspective. And I'm one of many, or maybe just a few who have always loved my hometown, in New York on the historic and the beautiful Hudson River. It's just an hour from where I'm sitting at the moment in New York City. And yet it's a world apart, I still have friends, I still have family and I still have a really deep love for the town that kind of launched me on my travels because my parents were very encouraging because Pete Seeger was a resident of Beacon, New York who encouraged us to see America and then beyond. And because I was always a train trip away from New York City, and that was kind of my entree into other worlds.
Lea Lane 08:35
Yes, I mean, I knew I knew beacon a while back as well. I lived in Westchester County for many years and beacon has revived there's a beautiful museum, the DIA which used to be a Nabisco plant, I believe. Yeah. And and so people come up now just to see the art is charming. There are many towns along the Hudson like that. I'm thinking of Hudson, New York as well, which, when I came in the 70s, to Westchester was kind of rundown. And now it's one of the most beautiful areas for antique shops and galleries and restaurants. So
Patricia Schultz 09:08
Yeah, I'm so glad that you mentioned those other towns, I always, you know, focus on Beacon but beacon was a real catalyst. And the D museum really gave a real jolt to all of these what the New York Times called scrappy Riverside towns and brought people easily on a one hour train ride from New York City for the day and the weekend, and then they started purchasing second homes and then now with you know, working remotely, they've moved there permanently, and it's historically so important. Thanks to Henry Hudson, and 1609.
Lea Lane 09:42
Thanks, Henry. Thanks, thanks. How about another one? How about Bali? That's one of my absolute favorites. I don't know if you've been Have you been Patricia. It's absolutely special and I think especially in the middle of the island. I think the coastal areas have beautiful hotels and wonderful beaches. But a lot of people, it's kind of like the Caribbean, for Australians, they come for vacation. If you go into the center, at least when I did, which was quite a while ago, maybe 25 years ago, I'm not so sure now, but it was quiet. There were spectacular organic hotels, you know, with open air showers and views of the gorgeous and the valleys, and the rice paddies. And you could enjoy the culture, the dances, each village had its own dance. And each village has some specialty and art. And the people moved so beautifully. That was almost a sensuous beauty to their movement, like, like the simulus, rice paddies. And I just fell in love with the beauty of the Hindu culture they are they would offer you beautiful little flowers and bits to eat every moment you would walk around, you'd be getting an offering. It was very special at that point. I hope so.
Patricia Schultz 10:53
Well, it has changed. I mean, not surprisingly, because of its proximity. As you mentioned, I didn't understand after it took me five days to get there, how easy it was for, you know, the Sydney siders to jump on a plane and in two hours, they were in good for, you know, their spring break. So there is a lot of damage. That's been done, but the island is quite large. And they've managed to I think preserve a lot of its special character. But you do need to look for it, I think a little bit more carefully. But it's there. And it's beautiful. And there are 1000s of other islands in the archipelago of Indonesia that are absorbing a lot of the overflow that ways or, you know, just as beautiful as Bali was 510, even 20 years ago.
Lea Lane 11:44
Yes. I think one of the things, again, is to try to travel whenever you can when it isn't crowded, if it's possible, you know, offseason that helps a lot. But I would say in any case, seek out the center of Bali. What's your next one, Patricia?
Patricia Schultz 11:57
Well, I could not possibly go forward with this list. If I didn't touch on Italy, there's a wonderful quote. But I think it's very easy. Who said you may have the universe if I may have Italy? I like that. And I said okay, look me to Florence. So my mother is from Southern Italy with the surname Schultz, I'm clearly to tonic Thank you dad. I was raised in a household where I was always led to believe that I was 500% Italian. So this is the kind of ancestral tourism or roots tourism where sometimes the first trips you take are often to your family to explore your family background. So I went to Italy to see where my mother came from, understood very immediately that while it was fascinating to me, and it gave me a lot of texture in terms of understanding more my family heritage, I knew quite clearly that I wasn't going to a lot of time there, I would in the country. But I went from the South North to Florence for just a few weeks and stayed for four years. I you know, took every moment every opportunity every weekend to get on a train to go explore to see different towns within Tuscany, but also beyond because there's no other country that I've ever experienced where top to bottom, there is just so much jam packed in terms of natural beauty but of course in terms of history, and art and music and food and food and food, and more food and the loveliness of the people really to just sit with a cup of Chino in a outdoor cafe and people watch for the rest of the day is an experience that I would get on a plane tomorrow to do all Absolutely.
Lea Lane 13:53
On my honeymoon, we stayed in the small town of Fiesole above Florence at a renaissance monastery called Villa San Michele, with a facade supposedly by Michelangelo. And I thought I was in heaven. I feel Yeah, I wasn't heaven. And then my very favorite memory of Florence is right after 911 I was a guest with a handful of other writers from New York and Florence opens opened his heart to us. I mean, they gave us special parties that were just maybe six of us that we represented New York to them and the mayor came with us and I will never forget that place and that time and I will never forget Florence for giving that.
Patricia Schultz 14:35
It is such a special place. In fact, I think just two or three years ago and perhaps the same rating continues. It was ranked or voted the number one most visited city and all of Europe, which says a lot because competition is high. It's not always a good thing because it's over tourists right for loved but like you mentioned before, there's always offseason and then Always the back alleyway, you know get get away from the main Piazza is that $20 cappuccinos and wander and see parts of Florence or any place where you are where tourists have not yet discovered. It's not that difficult, and I highly recommend it.
Lea Lane 15:15
Absolutely. Well, one of the other popular places in Europe is Barcelona. And the reason I'm including it is because of Gaudi of Antony Gaudi, I love architecture and I could go back any time to visit the park girl. I'm not pronouncing the park girl correctly, I'm sure. And the Sagrada Familia Cathedral, which has not yet finished it's been 100 years almost, it's going to be finished, supposedly in 2026. And I've watched it go up and be completed over and over as I've been back. But it's just a brilliant city for a lot of reasons. It's got the beaches, it's got a beautiful gothic center, you have topless, that's the place where you really have the best, I think anywhere. It's just, it's just a beautiful place. And there's a musical there that is not by Gaudi that I also think is spectacular. So Art Nouveau and I would just go into look at it, it's got a huge skylight and a stained glass skylight. That's not to be believed. So if you like if you like Gaudi, it is a must. And it's a beautiful area in general, there are a lot of fishing villages along the coast, it's the northeast coast of Spain. So you can go there if you wanted to go to the beach a little bit. And it's Catalonia it's the capital of Catalonia, which is an autonomous community in Spain. And so it's an interesting difference there, you can kind of feel it when you go there. There's a pride in that.
Patricia Schultz 16:35
It's also a very, very, very popular port of call if you're to do one of the cruises in the Mediterranean, many people you know, the first question out of their mouth is do we stop in Barcelona, it's an easy way to visit it if only for a few hours or overnight but at least you get a taste and then you can go back exactly leisure and it's up near the it's in the northeast corner on the coastline so it's very easy to buy train the train system throughout all of Europe now is so advanced, it really makes us look so Middle Ages, but you can grab a train and be in you know, along the south of France within an hour three or four easily and efficiently and then experience a whole other culture in just one trip
Lea Lane 17:23
Exactly. You can go, there's a little country called Andorra, which is about an hour up from Barcelona and it's mountainous and very different and very beautiful. So you can have a little mini vacation, I will say we'll have to put one caveat on Barcelona. It is a center of pickpocketing and I have been a victim of it. And I am saying this because it's so beautiful. I want you to go but I also want you to be careful. So do check. You know, when you're going somewhere, make sure you're aware of this sort of thing as well. That's a little bit of reality in a dreamy place. It's what's next? What's your next place?
Patricia Schultz 18:00
Well, I probably took one of my most eye opening trips solo when, I think I was around late 20s. Yeah, I went t,o so this is 100 years ago to you know, to Istanbul.
Lea Lane 18:15
Patricia Schultz 18:17
Whose names you know, since I was a kid playing risk with my cousin's on the living room floor on Siam. Istanbul, Zanzibar, Madagascar, these names just you know, Timbukto, and Istanbul is right up there. It has changed massively since then. And in other ways, not at all, because the whole eastern Western vibe because it's the only city in the world that straddles two continents. So part not half, but part of Istanbul is firmly in Asia and the other parts joined by bridges. And now an underground tunnel is in Europe. So that mix is unlike anything I had ever seen as a very, you know, rookie traveler at that point in my life. And even until today, my most recent trip I've been back a number of times, that was maybe two or three years ago. Again, another port of call those wonderful Eastern Mediterranean cruises that start in Athens often and do many of the Greek islands and then wind up in Ephesus, and ultimately Istanbul where your cruise ends and ideally, you can stay on a few days or a few months.
Patricia Schultz 19:44
A wonderful, wonderful people hospitable, welcoming, lovely handsome to look at and markets and food. Oh the food is just out of this world fresh and wonderful.
Lea Lane 19:59
And the Hagia Sophia Grand Mosque sort of symbolizes the East and West. It was a church before it became a mosque. And you know, you left in the sixth century.
Patricia Schultz 20:08
It's one of the only structures from that period of antiquity that's still standing today. And it's standing in a way it just underwent, I believe it was completed a year or two ago, maybe still going on a multi gajillion dollar renovation. So the mosaics and frescoes and it's just been reverted to a mosque right built as a basilica by Emperor Justinian after that it was converted to a mosque by the Ottomans. And then it was Ataturk, the father of modern day Turkey, who stripped it of all religious significance until a year ago. This is a very recent development, not everybody is happy. The local people certainly are arrayed against the kind of driving force behind the conversion is very proud of what has happened. And it's still open to the public. And it is a UNESCO site. It's probably the first time and UNESCO has had to deal with anything. Right. Right keeps changing. But anyway, it's regardless, it's just worth getting, you know, to a symbol merely to see that alone.
Lea Lane 21:17
Okay, well, I have a place that's far from that. It's the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, about 1000 kilometers off. And it's interesting because the Galapagos Islands are right on the equator. So you got part of them in the northern hemisphere, in part in the southern hemisphere. I don't know if many people know that. But it's so isolated. That of course, you have these magnificent variety of creatures that Darwin went to just to seek out and, and he, he found what he wanted, you have giant tortoises, blue footed boobies, flamingos, seals, reptiles, mammals, birds, amphibians, of all kinds over 9000 species. And they're not afraid of us because we're not allowed to touch them. So the best part of that vacation to me was that I could get right up close, there's a little zone where you can't go past it. But if you get right up close, you'll, you'll find what it is. And you're face to face with everybody, all the animals, I highly recommend, if possible to go on a small boat, so that you can get there early in the morning before the crowds come. And just commune with the animals. They are wonderful. It's one of the great experiences and if you can take your family that is the most special place to me.
Patricia Schultz 22:28
Yeah, I think have that on their wish list when they think of where do we bring the kids next? It's always you know, Yosemite and Grand Canyon. But um, it's of a different price range, you would need the budget. But do you know how much Disney World costs?
Lea Lane 22:45
Exactly? I think if you prioritize it, you can find a way in your lifetime. Let's put it that way. It isn't something you're going to do all the time. But it's something to keep in mind. Yes. What's your next one?
Patricia Schultz 22:57
Well, you know, um, since Cuba has been in the headlines for the last many decades, but especially these days, it's a place that I went to when it wasn't all that encouraged, or I wouldn't consider it illegal. It's just that you needed to go through the back door, which is what we did, we transited through Ken Kuhn and flew with Mexican air into Havana, only to arrive and see that, you know, maybe we were only a handful of Americans, but there were tons of European tourists. I had some, you know, in my innocence, I thought, well, if America can't go, no one can go but didn't have it. And they're there in large numbers. They don't seem to find it as fascinating as we do. But you know, with so much of America of Cuban descent, or even, you know, first generation newly arrived Cubans, I had so many friends, I was so fascinated to be there this summer, you know, for all of the tribulations in the horrific things that have gone on the people have such resilience and such a loveliness and such a warmth, because everybody has somebody they know who lives in your building.
Lea Lane 24:03
Well, I live in Miami, so you can imagine it took me 45 minutes, only 45 minutes, and I went to a place that was one of the most different places I had ever been, even though it was so close. The whole attitude there. There was no internet in 2014 when I was there, and it was just full of artistic fervor and energy. And I was struck as you were by the people, and the crumbling buildings were Yeah, the crumbling buildings looked sad, but they were extraordinarily beautiful. And I wish those people such luck and hope I feel for them.
Patricia Schultz 24:40
Yes, it's a very, very unique. I can't say that about many places anywhere in the world and you know, the Caribbean, it's a unique pocket within the Caribbean region, that once things improve. It is so worth to make every effort to go there because things do change. They'll change extraordinarily, and they'll change quickly. Yes. And they need our support now.
Lea Lane 25:05
Agreed. So let's go to the Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi. That's, that's, that's a switch. I'm including this because I wanted to see at the I was in Abu Dhabi twice and the first time believe it or not, it was on a quick tour. And I didn't get to see it. And I thought about this for years. And on another trip, I made my way there just to see it, and it was well worth it. It's a magnificent sample of architecture. It's called the shakes, I add Grand Mosque. It's in the capital city of Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates. It's the largest mosque in the country, they can fit about 50,000 people if they really have to. And it has 82 domes, more than 1000 columns. It has 24 karat gold gilded chandeliers, the world's largest hand knotted carpet. But beyond that, it's just a magnificent example of human creation, it was done in 10 years. And I looked at it from all angles, and we stayed at a hotel across the street from it, so I could see it in the night and in the morning, because I really wanted to see it a lot since I had missed it the first time, I'm including it, because you should follow your dreams go where you really want, if you can, you know, prioritize it, as I said, and if you really want to, you'll get there sometime in your lifetime. That's one of the places I got to see.
Patricia Schultz 26:19
It is just beautiful. And it's all white marble.
Lea Lane 26:24
I teared up, the entire marvel, acres of white marble. What's your next one?
Patricia Schultz 26:29
Well, speaking of that general area of the Persian Gulf, but I did want it, you know, it was charming when you said it's the largest mosque in the country, because the country's only the size of my neighborhood here.
Lea Lane 26:43
But they have a lot of mosques.
Patricia Schultz 26:46
But it's also one of the few mosques in you know, the area of the Middle East that welcomes non Muslims. Yeah. And when you go on, I believe you need to go with the guide, we always went with the guide. I've been there twice. And it's just you know, it just opens your mind to what went into the construction of it, you know, just the artisans and the artists who were brought in from all over the world to do that. But it is massive, regardless of how small country is. But there we are. We're in the UAE, the United Arab Republic, neighboring Dubai, and then the other islands like Bahrain and Qatar, but just across the the Gulf is Persia, ancient Persia, what we know today is Iran. And that was a country that since my, my first week of my first semester of Mitel, is friends with the Persian contingent of my University in Washington, DC, where there has always been a large beyond campus, there's always been a large Persian community there. And they just introduced me to this culture and country where the Shah at that point reigns about which I knew absolutely nothing. And it has been since then, that I've wanted to go and I finally did three or four years ago, and talk about going to these places, when you can, you really need to copy the you know, copy the opportunity. And if the opportunity is in put on your desk or in your lap, then you make it happen, because look what is happening now things are not stable. It's kind of off the table for Americans, although Europeans can still go if you have any European followers who are listening. It's always painted as if it's, you know, risky and dangerous, and you'll never see him again. And I'm here to tell you that in my life, I have never ever been in a country that is that welcoming. And that lovely. And that remarkable.
Lea Lane 28:40
I remember seeing an Anthony Bourdain episode where he was walking through the streets and the people were the friendliest. And he comments same thing he said, these are the nicest people
Patricia Schultz 28:51
They had no idea who he was. Everybody's a rock star if you seem to be Western. And if you're American, you're even more welcomed because they love everything American. It was hard for me to wrap my head around that and also Rick Steves Who is Mr. Europe did you know kind of went beyond his boundaries went to Iran because he too had always been hearing about the hospitality and the welcome and I saw that episode and I thought, you know booked me now. I love that.
Lea Lane 29:25
Well, I’m gonna take you to a natural wonder. And you mentioned it earlier. It's one that's on lots of lists, but I adored it. It was a glass who falls on the border between Brazil and Argentina. I've been to most of the been fortunate enough to be able to have been to most of the falls including Victoria Falls and Niagara Falls and such. But to me, this is the most beautiful falls because it's in the jungle. It's a natural looking fall that's special in daylight and in at the nighttime I was able to go and it was a moonlit night. And in the daytime there were rainbows in the night there were stars Have it. And there are walkways all down through it. Just it's just spectacular. You can go on a boat underneath it, you can stay a night in the Argentinian side, especially and walk around and have a lovely time. You know, besides the falls are all kinds of things to do. I just think of orchids and rainbows and jungle and I know there's 275 separate cascades, but to me, it's just this huge amount of gorgeousness. And I highly recommend Iguaza Falls.
Patricia Schultz 30:29
Yeah, it really is. I think one of the kind of the must see attractions of the continent, you know, there's each continent seems to have their foals. And they're always competing with the next and each one is special for what it is. And I went to Niagara for the first time, only about, I would say, seven or eight years ago. I'm sure I went when I was six with the family. I don't know. It does. I didn't go on my honeymoon. Right, right, popular in the 60s and 70s. And to this day, but it's pretty spectacular. But each of these Falls has their own setting immersed in their own culture because in South America as you say, you know, visit Argentine side or the Brazilian side, or you know, Victoria Falls is always kind of tagged on pre or post Safari. So that's pretty cool as well. But you know, to think that most of the things you have to see in life were all man made. You know the idea Sophia and the stumble we were talking about, or Florence will have the Renaissance beauty but all of these natural beauties. So my next one is because I hold it dear to my heart for no other reason for many reasons, especially because it was the last escape before I came home to a world that was locked down by COVID. And that was Southeast Asia to the country of Laos. I had been it's a really region of the world that I love, you know, Vietnam, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, I had never been to Laos, which is, I think the smallest of that country and peninsula and the one city that everybody seems to love the most. And now I know why is Luang Prabang because it has a name that deserves to be on Jeopardy, Luang Prabang. And it was the original capital up in the mountainous north and at the border. We flew into chain right in Northern Thailand and at the border of Thailand and Laos. In the northwest corner, you can get on a boat and float down the Mekong river because the Mekong River makes its way through, I think, seven or eight different countries that originates in China, which has become a problem because of the damming and the water supplies but it originates in China flows down ultimately empties into the Mekong Delta, which Americans of a certain age will always know because of the Vietnam War coverage, but as an innocent tourist or traveler to go to the Mekong Delta and see how millions of people it's a massive area, it's very fertile and, and a lot of stilted villages, a lot of traditional lifestyles. It's a fascinating corner. But I digress because Laos itself to me was a real eye opener. There were close to no tourists at all. And this was in early March, but everybody was telling me no, you can go there some of the nicest people. I just love that whole area of Southeast Asia. I don't know if you have been.
Lea Lane 33:36
Yes, I I lived in Thailand for a while and it's absolutely yeah, it was. It was wonderful.
Patricia Schultz 33:42
I read somewhere that Bangkok is the number one most visited city in the world. Um, wow. Like different before they're just the traffic
Lea Lane 33:51
The traffic was terrible in Bangkok when I was there a long time ago. So I can only imagine I hope they fixed it. Let's let's move along because we have so many places. So I'm going to give you one that you might have been I hope you've been to you've been so many places Namibia Have you been? Yeah. Isn't it wonderful? Okay, I'm just gonna generally tell you that that it's got the highest dunes in the world and supposedly I don't know who measures them but they are very tall and they are read if you get there in the morning, you have to get up really early. And in in certain desert. There's a knobby desert and there's other deserts but if you get if you get there early enough in the morning, you have half the dune in shadow and half it's really red and you can climb it and it's so spectacular. There's also some wonderful diverse wildlife in Etosha National Park, you have the largest cheetah population in the world. It's a very protected country very ecologically savvy. So I'm very pleased to hear that because you know so much has been destroyed so many places, but this country really cares tremendously about its natural resources. There's something called the Skeleton Coast where there are shipwrecks and the white dunes come down to the ocean. And it's just gorgeous. And if you can, if you get to South Africa, it's not that far. I mean, it's, you know, it was part of South Africa. Yeah, it was carved out. So it's a plane right away a quick plane right away. And I hope you remember Namibia, because they're lovely people again, and it's a gorgeous place. And I highly recommend it.
Patricia Schultz 35:26
Many people who have, you know, ticked off the African safari experience as everyone should, because to me, it's one of the great must do things in your life. If you can manage it, then often, you know, we'll go back the second time. And the third time because Africa often so much, it's not a country, it's a continent, exactly. I think 50 countries that make up Africa, and each one offers their own special thing. But if you want to keep on this Safari top in your life, you know, to go see, the elephants or the big five, or the gorillas in Uganda, or, you know, people that often will go to Namibia after they've done the classic and traditional Safari because it's a safari of a different kind. And it's a very, very different experience. And it is so worth the effort to get there. Because flying to Africa, as you know, is not an easy thing. But much easier these days than before, when you'd have to change three or four times now there are nonstop flights to many cities in Africa, you can then connect.
Lea Lane 36:32
So what would be your next one?
Patricia Schultz 36:34
Well, you know, I was speaking before about Iran, and we're still, once I discovered Central Asia, I just thought I was on to a whole new thing in my life that you know, it's amazing until you physically and realize that it exists and how in the world have you not heard of it, or been there or wanted to go there. And that's how I felt with the Stans. So the Stans and the local language means land. So Afghanistan was the land of the Afghans and Uzbekistan which I'm about to go on about how fantastic it is, was a land of the Uzbekese. And this is all Silk Road country, because this was the area of Asia were coming from east of there, China, and then passing through this desert land westwards towards the Mediterranean where they put all of their precious goods on ships and boats, and then disperse these these precious cargoes throughout Europe, Uzbekistan, and the neighboring stands, of which we visited five, because hey, as long as you're in the neighborhood, all right. Uzbekistan is the darling everybody's talking now about Uzbekistan, because there are just so many different things in UNESCO sites, even within Uzbekistan, to see and relatively easily to get from A to B to C to D. But it's, you know, it goes back 1000s of years, the was Becky, people having had this heritage of merchants and caravans passing through for centuries and centuries, they've always had foreigners, so you're just another welcomed foreigner as far as they're concerned. And they love Americans, and the welcome there was not unlike what we had in Iran. So it's fantastic. It's fascinating. It's like another world. It's unlike anything I had experienced. And we spent a number of weeks there. And I would go back or it's not easy to get to, but certainly to go once and I really encourage two people to go back with a guided tour, because you can go independently, but I would have missed 90% of what I walked away with in my head and my understanding, and my appreciation for the culture and the heritage had we not had a remarkable guide. And also it facilitates things because to cross the borders. This was three or four years ago to cross the borders from one stand to the next is very doable with in my case, an American passport, but you needed visas and paperwork. And it's all facilitated when you go on an organized tour.
Lea Lane 39:11
Well, I’m going to take you to more famous cities. My last two that I'm going to mention just because they're both so magical, I'm going to just put them together and everybody knows about them are New York City and Paris. Those are the two cities in the world where if anyone says you want to go, I'll go no matter what I find energy culture, sexiness, food, all the magical things that a city can offer in both of them. Each one is different. I think some feel New York isn't beautiful, but it's beautiful in its own way. Paris is beautiful, for sure. And I don't know what it is about that that city. It is always a good idea. It's always a good idea. It's like perfume is in the air. It's just I don't know what it is, but I just feel different when I go there. I'm so happy to, to to have been there. I often I often try to go whenever I feel I have to get out. And I'm lucky enough as a travel writer to be able to do it. But I think New York is by where I was born. Like you said, it's the feeling about that. And I've always loved it. It's gone through ups and downs, if I hope it comes back strong now, but I will always love it and Paris. Well, it's like a lover will always be there in my honor.
Patricia Schultz 40:30
There's a wonderful cartoon that keeps popping up on social media from the New Yorker. And the wife is walking out of the front door with her little handles. You know, it's a very 60s, maybe cartoon, she's walking out the front diner, her husband is sitting in the chair reading his newspaper, you know how yesterday, and she says, I'm going to Paris where I can be another person.
Lea Lane 40:51
Exactly. And a better person. Yeah, sexier person.
Patricia Schultz 40:56
And, you know, I went for that, for some reason, my husband who's been with me, not much of a traveler in the beginning, and I created a monster. So when again, he has been tired, he's been to Antarctica, he had never been to Paris. And I said, Oh, we have to rectify this. And we took one of those wonderful river cruise from Paris, up to Normandy, the Normandy coast. And I made sure we spent time in the beginning and at the end so that he could explore and he was blown away. He said, I never understood what a beautiful city and I said, Well, have you been living in a cave, all of them? hear all of the things that you hear? And I said, Didn't you imagine that it was this beautiful. And he said, it's hard to imagine this kind of beauty, because it's architectural, but it's also an energy and a vibe, and it's the people and it's the cobblestone streets. He was amazed there were cobblestone streets, you know.
Lea Lane 41:52
Left Bank is medieval. Yeah, the Left Bank is from the Roman times. And before and medieval, as well.
Patricia Schultz 41:58
was so interesting. And I find this when I travel with small groups to which I like to do is you always see, you know, what's up in you this novel, The novelty of a place because you see these destinations through the eyes of other people who are oftentimes seeing it for the first time. And that's a wonderful thing, because you see it all over again. You see it with new eyes dentures.
Lea Lane 42:22
I agree. I'm gonna let you end with with something I was talking to you about. At one point, I never got to go yet. And it's those wonderful gorillas in Uganda. Can you just end with that?
Patricia Schultz 42:32
Yes. And I think, you know, go today, or go tomorrow or go, you know, ASAP, because we never thought that something would stop us in our tracks were Americans, we could always travel, we could, you know, put it on a sideburn. And we can go when the kids are out of school, or when you know, you have two weeks later, you know, we can and then suddenly COVID happened. And we realize that nothing is promised. There are no guarantees. So prioritize what is important to you in life. And if you don't have gorillas at the very tippy top of your wish lists. I'm here to tell you that they could be because it was a life changing. I don't use that expression. Often. I mean, travel gives you all different kinds of experiences. But this one in particular. And I have to say it wasn't just the gorillas, but all of Uganda is a spectacular country. And it's always associated with the gorillas, because it's only it's one of only three countries, neighboring Rwanda. And the Congo, which doesn't get much tourism at all, where you can see these mountain gorillas, which now number about 1000. And the groups the troops or families of gorillas that we saw in Uganda have been habituated. So it's taken years for the rangers to go in and sit with them for a minute, and then 10 minutes, and then it'll be an hour. And then they'll go there's no contact. There's no physical contact, but they will habituate to these families of gorillas with one Silverback and sometimes it doesn't or many dozens of other members of this troop so that they'll see this, you know, two legged white person standing there and it's no big deal that we're not a threat, we're not going to harm them. They even let the juveniles and the babies come up to our ankles and climb up our legs. I mean, oh my goodness, something magnificent and the countryside is rich and fertile. Winston Churchill called it the pearl of Africa. The wildlife beyond the gorillas is something that will take your breath away and the people my friend who had just come back said, be ready to see a lot of teeth are always smile. Yeah, it's from the heart. It's genuine. And it's just a standout experience in all of Africa. And that says something because Africa is remarkable destination in and of itself.
Lea Lane 44:50
Well, that sounds fantastic. The name of the podcast is Places I Remember and we've shared a lot of memories, but can you share one last one with us? That's really special for you in a really special
Patricia Schultz 45:01
You know, I the reason this particular memory is so special to me after years is because it hits on so many different things that I've understood over time are what we hope for and you can just never pay in advance and be guaranteed of or anticipate and if you happen upon them and it's so is just serendipity isn't it? Consider yourself a very, very lucky traveler and that is when we have all things had our seven o'clock AM departure from Casa Blanca airport canceled. We had gotten there at four o'clock in the dark of night, as we were told it was canceled. We didn't know what to do. We were desperate to get to Fez, and we had thought the only way to get there was by air. It was over an hour flight, but in fact, you can go there by cars. We went outside the airport fell into the wonderful company of Mohammed who had a Mercedes cab he told us it was from another century, it was held together by duct tape, he was the loveliest man and we said, we need to get to Fez. But first you have to take us to the best place in Casablanca for coos, coos, because we've been up for eight hours and we're starved and he said no problem. Long story short, he took us home. His mother had been cooking couscous. It was Friday or Saturday. It was the big day of the week for couscous for hours. We were welcomed like family, the whole village came, he lived in a suburb outside of Casa Blanca. He had two daughters who were studying French in school in grade school, all they wanted to know about was Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. We sat around the table we ate with our hands. I'm not sure what we ate, it was some of the most delicious couscous, some of the most heartwarming, we were ready to cancel fez we just wanted Mohammed and his family. And when they saw us off, everybody from the neighboring buildings came back and waved us on and it was the standout memory I'll have of many different trips. Yes. In the hospitality you find in countries that until you visit you see is maybe a little threatening or maybe not so safe turns out to be absolutely the best.
Lea Lane 47:11
I agree with you. I think so many times, it's the people that you remember the most. I can tell you also, in Greece, I'm thinking off the top of my head in Greece, and in Russia and other places. I've been in homes, where people like our guide, or someone I meet on the street has welcomed me and it's the memory I cherish the most of the country. So thank you so much for that you're absolutely on target. Thank you so much Patricia Schultz, author of the series 1000 places to see before you die, may there be at least another 1000 places for you to see as you travel the world. And on this 25th episode. I want to also thank this podcast. Thousands of listeners in over 1000 cities in over 70 countries so far. I love sharing with you the places and the stories that I and my guests remember most. And I love to hear from you with ideas, comments and questions by links are in my show notes. So stay in touch and you can always go to my website placesirememberlealane.com Thank you.
Patricia Schultz 48:08
Thank you very much
Lea Lane 48:16
Thanks for sharing travel memories with us. My book, Places I Remember, is available on Amazon and in bookstores, in print, on Kindle, and I read the audio version. Please subscribe to this podcast and consider giving us a review. Until next time, join us wherever in the world we're going.