In a normal year, we have a large number of remarkable travel experiences. We feel especially blessed to have been able to do as much as we did in 2020, when sheltering in place was more the norm. Of course, our travels were quite restricted and required a little extra effort, but we made sure to savor each experience to the fullest extent.
Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming
I didn’t make it to any international wildlife destinations in 2020, but I did have a wonderful experience in Grand Teton National Park, on a tour organized by Jackson Hole Wildlife Safaris. It was awe-inspiring to see a herd of grazing bison, backdropped by the snowcapped Tetons. I’ve watched bison many times in the past, but it was still deeply impressive to view the massive animals in a setting of such grandeur. Just 10 minutes later, we stood before a meadow speckled with wildflowers, where our guide had received reports of a grizzly sighting. Sure enough, a bear soon raised its huge torso above the thick vegetation. Seen in a spotting scope, her brown fur looked lush and soft. But this was no teddy bear. She was a mother, protecting two cubs, whose heads also poked up at one point. From time to time, their vigilant parent would emerge from the grasses and flowers to recheck that we posed no threat. We were careful to keep our distance!
Bloods Lake Trail, Utah
A short drive from Park City, the trail to Bloods Lake is justly popular. After crossing the road from the parking lot to the trailhead, we came to a succession of aspen stands, their white trunks gleaming against the blue sky and emerald leaves. In between the groves of aspens and conifers were steep mountain meadows, ablaze with crimson, purple and golden wildflowers. Every now and then, a break allowed us to see for miles down a long valley. The air was crisp and clean, and the simple act of breathing felt reviving. Bloods Lake itself has no murderous history of which I’m aware; its name comes from a former governor of Utah, Henry H. Blood. It’s possible to circumnavigate the small lake on a path through fragrant pine forest. We headed to where an expanse of buttercups led from the path to the shore. In spite of our high-altitude exertions, we returned to our car feeling thoroughly invigorated.
On Menorca’s southern coast, this tranquil cove of fine white sand is framed by cliffs covered by parasol pines and lapped by calm, clear water. (“Turqueta” means “turquoise.”) It is located about a 25-minute drive from the port city of Ciutadella, and you should bring drinks, snacks, beach blankets and anything else you’ll need for a blissful day of lounging and swimming. (A bathroom is available.) There are no water sports, and yachts are obliged to anchor outside a line of buoys. The best time on the beach is the morning, as the sun leaves the sands in the afternoon. In the summer high season, Cala en Turqueta can become crowded, but in June and September it is invariably serene. You can also visit this beach as part of a four-hour boating trip run out of the Port de Ciutadella by Mar sin Barreras (“Sea With No Frontiers”).
Connecticut, Massachusetts and New York
Leaving New York City, we headed northeast into Connecticut. By the time we reached Washington in the Litchfield Hills, the landscape had become unmistakably that of New England, with forested hills and small towns with white-painted steeples. Nearby, we stayed at an old favorite, the Mayflower Inn & Spa. Continuing north along the lovely valley of the Housatonic River — 5 miles of the Appalachian Trail run along its banks — we entered Massachusetts and came to Lenox in the Berkshires, an enchantingly pretty town, which, in a normal summer, plays host to the Boston Symphony Orchestra. We stayed first at Blantyre, one of our most highly rated properties, before checking out the new Miraval Berkshires hotel and spa. After visits to The Mount (Edith Wharton’s house) and the Hancock Shaker Village, as well as the picturesque towns of Salisbury and Stockbridge, we continued our drive west to the magnificently scenic Hudson Valley. The newly fashionable town of Hudson, New York, is an ideal base from which to explore the landscapes made famous by the Hudson River School of painters, as well as being the location of a stylish new boutique hotel, The Maker. To the south, the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and mansion overlook the river at Hyde Park, while the Dia Beacon contemporary arts foundation and the Storm King Art Center are both located near Beacon, a striking example of urban renewal. Rather than continuing downriver to New York City, we opted to drive 60 miles west to Livingston Manor at the heart of the 700,000-acre Catskill Park. There we stayed at The DeBruce — an unassuming inn with an excellent restaurant — that overlooks a stretch of the lovely Willowemoc River, one of the trout streams for which the region is famous. From the Catskills, it was an easy two-hour drive back to Manhattan.
One of our last major trips before the onset of the pandemic was to Greece. When international travel resumes, perhaps in early summer 2021, we strongly suggest that you follow in our footsteps. June is the nicest month of the year in the Eastern Mediterranean. Days 1 and 2 should be spent in Athens, relaxing after the long flight and enjoying the city’s cultural treasures. On Day 3, drive southwest to the fashionable yachting center of Porto Heli, in the Peloponnese. From there, it is a 10-minute water taxi ride to Amanzoe, for a three-night stay. The resort is a wonderful place to relax, and also a fine base from which to explore nearby islands such as Spetses and Hydra, as well as sites on the mainland like the classical theater at Epidaurus, the majestic ruins of Mycenae and the enchanting Venetian town of Nafplio. Ideally, Days 6 through 8 will be passed aboard a private yacht for a cruise through the islands of the Cyclades, a journey that ends on the lovely island of Paros. There, you will stay for three nights at the new 33-suite Parīlio Hotel, located a five-minute drive to the west of the cosmopolitan village of Naoussa. Days 9 through 11 will be spent exploring Paros, and perhaps the neighboring islands of Antiparos and Naxos. On Day 12, travel 65 miles to the south, either by a private motor yacht charter or aboard a high-speed catamaran ferry, to the spectacular island of Santorini. There, our recommended hotel, The Tsitouras Collection, occupies a dramatic setting overlooking the immense volcanic caldera, formed by a colossal eruption 3,500 years ago. Days 13 and 14 can be spent admiring the view and enjoying some of the excellent local restaurants. Alternatively, you may wish to visit the famous archaeological excavation at Akrotiri, a Minoan Bronze Age settlement, and to take a private tour at the Boutari Winery in the village of Megalochori, which makes some of the finest Greek white wines, thanks to the rich black volcanic soil. On Day 15, fly from Santorini back to Athens (45 minutes), connecting to an international flight to the United States.