Special Travel Experiences Remembered.

The end of the year–any year, I guess–is a good time for reflection. And since my ramblings here have to do mostly with travel, I was thinking earlier about some of the places I’ve been that I particularly remember.
I remember my first visit to Tahiti. My flight landed late at night, and the next morning I got out of bed, walked to the picture window, swept aside the curtains, and got my first look at Matavai Bay and, across eight or ten miles of ocean, the Island of Moorea. The effect was staggering.

 You have to see the Great Wall in China to appreciate what a monumental undertaking it was. Donald Trump’s wall? A trifle by comparison … not to mention a shameful fraud.
I won’t forget a demonstration of horsemanship staged by a dozen Mongolian kids–the oldest no more than 11 or 12–dashing about on their almost-miniature horses.

Or walking out into the Gobi Desert to get a sun rise photo of our train, stopped and waiting for a freight coming the other way.
And in Italy, I sat for almost two hours sipping espresso in a small cafe while contemplating the incredible piazza in the medieval town of Siena.
If you’re into another kind of contemplation, Wounded Knee in South Dakota is a good spot for it. At dawn on a December morning in 1890, the U.S. Army opened fire with artillery on a sleeping Indian village. Some 300 Sioux were massacred, almost all women and children.

 I was so struck by the almost surreal beauty of the small chateau at Azay-le-Rideau in the Loire Valley that I made a second trip to France to see it again … and spent hours over there days sitting on the grass, just staring at it.
I remember standing on top of Pointe du Hoc, a 100-foot cliff on the Normandy coast, that was scaled on June 6, 1944, by American Army Rangers using grappling hooks and aluminum ladders with German soldiers firing down on them with automatic weapons.
And on Guam, at Invasion Beach, I stood where Japanese soldiers crouched behind palm tree logs firing at American soldiers wading toward shore from several hundred yards out beyond the surf break.
You don’t forget stuff like that.