The Bucket List
Our travel experts pick the places you need to see at least once in a lifetime.
From the Print Edition:
Daniel Craig, November/December 2008
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The maiden flight of Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic "airline" is still more than a year away, but bookings are brisk, and our experts are getting ready for the event with high-altitude weightless flights to inner space. Virgin Galactic promises the real thing, a longtime dream of many who watched Neil Armstrong take his first steps on the moon. Virtuoso Life's Srnka says, "Anyone who's traveled to space says it's a life-changing experience, and here's your chance to touch the sky: For a mere $200,000, you'll go through three days of training for a chance to don your space suit and earn your astronaut wings. Then, you'll rocket to 360,000 feet at three times the speed of sound into the black of suborbital flight, where you'll float weightlessly for about four to five minutes before your spaceship begins its descent back to Earth." Travel agent Anne Morgan Scully, who is one of Virgin Galactic's approved agents, says, "This is an extraordinary journey into black space. You will have the ability to float in zero gravity and look back at Earth. My husband was a fighter pilot, so I understand man's love of flight and the journey to space."
Move over, Vietnam. For a must-see destination, Bhutan takes top honors. Bhutan only recently opened its doors to visitors, and has carefully regulated its tourism industry to prevent development. Unlike other Asian countries, Bhutan has kept visits high-quality and low-quantity, ensuring a very special experience for those who make the arduous trip. It has a handful of small luxury resorts from the Aman and COMO groups, which offer fantastic combinations of lodging, dining, sightseeing and activities. Bhutan is, according to Dan and Anne Miller, longtime publishers of Distinctive Destinations, "one of the most isolated and fascinating countries in the world. For centuries, Bhutan adopted a policy of self-imposed isolation. Natural wonders, priceless collections of religious art, unique architecture, stunning temples amid a profusion of prayer flags, and friendly people await the fortunate visitor."
Old Course, St Andrews
Not to impugn our panelists, but we didn't exactly need experts to make this choice. Virtually everyone who loves golf dreams of teeing up in the place where it all started. "I'll never be able to hit a line drive at the Elysian Fields [site of the first recorded baseball game in Hoboken, New Jersey], but I hope to play a round one day at the birthplace of golf," says Abramson. The best-kept secret in golf travel is the "Old Course in Reverse" package. Offered once a year, the multiday excursion gives you a round on the Old and a round on the original routing, which is done in reverse from the 18th tee to the first. Honorable Mentions: David Baum, editor and publisher of specialized golf travel newsletter Golf Odyssey, plays in New Zealand because of its fantastic courses and stunning beauty. "Popular belief is that it requires two weeks or more," says Baum. "We shattered this myth earlier this year when we outlined how one can experience the best of this golf paradise while only being out of the office a mere five days." Golf journalist Jeff Wallach voted for China's Jade Dragon Snow Mountain, one of the longest and highest courses in the world.
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