I’m not a gambler, but I played the Lottery for the big jackpot. I knew my odds of winning the $1.5 billion dollars was miniscule, but I couldn’t resist throwing down $2 to try. I’m not naive, I didn’t expect to win.
I’ve chuckled at bumper stickers which read, “The Lottery – Gambling for people who are bad at math.” Truer words were never written. Statistics, not in my favor, showed that I had a one in 292.2 million chance at winning. In fact, I was more likely to get struck by lightning; the odds being one in 164,968. The good news is that I had the Powerball number correct, enabling me to recoup my $2. With my newfound luck, perhaps I’d better start ducking storm clouds.
Playing the largest U.S. jackpot in history caused me to dream of wonderful places in the world I’d explore, had I won. Bora Bora, the dreamy South Pacific Island northwest of Tahiti, would have been my first destination. After all, who can resist brilliant sunshine, exotic palm trees, and stunning turquoise lagoons? Yes, fantasizing is fun. Here are a few other places I would go.
Budapest, Hungary, the birthplace of my great grandmother, heads the list. Of appeal is the Castle Hill (Várhegy), a district on the West Side of the Danube which dates to the thirteenth century. Medieval walls and narrow streets remind us that the “defensive neighborhood” was created in response to an attack. There are three main parts of the Castle district; Buda Castle Palace, St. George’s Square, and the historical residences. The Budapest History Museum, located in the southern wing of the Buda Castle, shares the history of Budapest. Visitors may explore the restored part of the primitive castle, including the Royal Chapel and the rib-vaulted Gothic Hall.
The Australian Outback offers a bit of wild adventure. Traveling there affords opportunities to see large varieties of native plants and birds, natural features, and interesting animals such as red kangaroos, dingoes, and brumbies (feral horses). The term “Outback” refers to the remote and dry region of Australia, which makes up a majority of the continent. While most of Australia’s population lives on the coastline, the Outback is sparsely populated. The best way to explore the region is via guided tour. Luxury motor coaches can transport visitors from important sites to resort or rustic accommodations. Professional tour companies offer a variety of entertaining ways to see the vast land, from seaplane rides to jet-boat adventures. High on my bucket list is a trip to Mitchell Falls. This stunning natural attraction is found in The Kimberley, one of nine regions of Western Australia. A guided tour on foot can deliver visitors to the thunderous four-tiered falls. Top the adventure with a scenic helicopter ride, to gain unique aerial impressions of the falls and plateau.
Zurich, the largest city in Switzerland, has tremendous appeal. The city, located on Lake Zurich, boasts an excellent public transit system and free bike rentals. On my wish list is a simple visit to Fraumünster, an Old Town church with a slender blue spire. The historic site was founded in 853 by Emperor Ludwig (Louis the German), grandson of Charlemagne. The present-day church dates from about 1250. The crypt of the old abbey church is preserved below. Fraumünster served as a place of worship for many denominations, including Russian Orthodox, Catholics and Protestants. The church underwent extensive renovations in the 20th century. The addition of stained glass windows, masterfully created by Marc Chagall, brings magnificence to the structure.
I’d go to Gibraltar, surrounded by the glorious Mediterranean Sea. This British Overseas Territory is located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula. The Rock of Gibraltar, one of the Pillars of Hercules, is the Crown property of the United Kingdom. The upper area is covered by natural reserves and is home to 300 Barbary macaques (wild monkeys). The tunnels of Gibraltar are an intriguing must-see destination. The early ones served as communication passages between artillery positions and housed guns with embrasures cut into the North Face of the Rock. Larger underground fortresses, and eventually Second World War II tunnels, were later created. Today, some tunnels are open to the public. Many remain in disrepair. The Upper Galleries, excavated during the Great Siege, have become a popular tourist site. No trip to the territory would be complete without a ride on the Gibraltar Cable Car. Built in 1966, and renovated in 1986, the aerial tramway travels up the Rock of Gibraltar to the Ape’s Den at midway. Audio tour guides share historical information as you continue upward. From atop the rock, enjoy the panoramic lookout. Gain breathtaking views across the Strait of Gibraltar to Morocco, from the Bay of Gibraltar towards the Spanish port city of Algeciras, and up the east coast towards Marbella, Spain.
Trekking across oceans to foreign lands has great appeal, but I’m confident there is no place grander to roam than within the United States. Abundant are America’s dramatic natural and geological resources, evident in places like the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, and Niagara Falls. Significant are our rugged mountains, deep valleys, vast oceans, and desert landscapes. Unique are our lazy winding rivers, still lakes, majestic Redwoods, prairie grasses, and wildflowers which dance in the breeze. From the long sandy beaches of the Atlantic to the majestic Glaciers of the Pacific; don’t overlook travel in the very best place of all, right here at home.
Please tell us where you’d go if you had won the Lottery!