How can you describe a thousand wonderful places in an hour? If you’re Patricia Schultz, author of the newly-revised, 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, you don’t even try.
Instead, she treated the luncheon audience at Highland Park United Methodist Church Tuesday to what she called “thirty favorite places” from the newly-revised second edition of her bestseller. But what’s her most favorite place? Whichever one she’s visited most recently, she said. For her, that’s the Hebrides Islands of Scotland. “I can still smell the heather and feel the mist on my face -- because it’s always raining in Scotland.”
A rainy vacation may not be everybody’s tea and scone, but for Schultz, it’s not just the places, “it’s the people you remember.” Especially, but not only, when they’re people she met over the whiskey bar -- fifty varieties of single malt scotch -- on the ferry to the Hebrides.
Even while showing slides of postcard-perfect views, she emphasized the people she met along the way. From the children who surrounded her broken-down van on the way to the rock-hewn churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia, asking to hear about Beyonce. (“I read People,” Schultz told us, “so I was up to date.”) To “Edith from Machu Picchu,” a ninety-year-old native of New Jersey she met in a hotel in Peru, who recommended Schultz’s own book to her as a guide.
Schultz said if she hadn’t already chosen a proverb recommended by a Mongolian friend to open the second edition of her book (“better to see something once than to hear about it a thousand times”) she’d have used Edith’s mantra -- “get the hardest trips done first, because your knees have expirations dates.”
(Edith was on her second set of knees -- titanium -- for help in getting around the ancient Incan capital, she informed Schultz.)
Other favorite places ran the gamut from an elephant-back safari in Okavango Delta of Botswana, to towns in the Palestinian Authority running side by side with Israel, to newly tourist-friendly countries in the former Yugoslavia. (She recommends staying in Tito’s old palace.)
And of course, there’s Italy. With an Italian mother and years of residence there, Schultz has such a warm spot for that country, she’s written a 2012 calendar just about Italy.
Schultz, however, spoke warmly about any travel opportunity. Although amazed that only thirty percent of Americans have a passport, she didn’t believe that we need to see other countries first to experience the benefits of travel. In fact, she’s also written a Thousand Places guide to the U.S. and Canada.
“There’s no education in the world like you experience when you leave your home, when you get out of your comfort zone,” Schultz said. “You see things differently. . .and you appreciate what you have when you return.”
(Schultz’s books are widely available in bookstores -- she also spoke at the Lincoln Park Barnes and Noble Tuesday -- and online. For a complete list of her works, see www.workman.com/authors/patricia_schultz/. For information about Highland Park’s sponsorship of authors, see www.hpumc.org/authorslive/.)