It’s good to be back in Naples. But travel is always broadening, and this past summer was no exception.
Here are some remembrances.
Iceland is a fascinating place to visit. It has glaciers, waterfalls — and absolutely no energy worries. Iceland sits on a volcanic crust, with lava from the earth’s core near the surface. Water pumped down flashes to steam which turns turbines and, voilà, geothermal energy. Not just electricity, but hot water for homes and heat to grow vegetables. The geothermal greenhouses are a sight to behold.
And Russia. The sleeping giant still looks daunting. The shipbuilding yards in St. Petersburg are the largest I’ve ever seen. They go on forever. If its sagging economy permitted, you have to believe Russia could rebuild a formidable navy, and quickly.
When it comes to art, the fifth floor of MoMA is hard to beat. The Museum of Modern Art in New York has, in the space of three rooms, one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world. In one room, you can stand, turn and see masterpieces by Van Gogh, Rousseau, Gauguin and Cezanne. Next door are Monet’s huge waterlily canvasses.
Whenever I visit Connecticut, I’m reminded that my home state never met a tax it didn’t like. Between income tax, sales tax, gasoline tax (which is horrendous), property tax, gift tax and death tax, Connecticut leaves no asset unpunished. It’s good to live in Florida, where our governor and Legislature actually cut taxes. And locally, both the city and county hold the line on spending. Little wonder people are moving here.
Sweden is certainly no slouch when it comes to taxes. Income tax can reach 58 percent and all taxes, as much as 80 percent. But the services provided cover almost everything. If socialism is your thing, Sweden is the place to live. The people are certainly happy. At an outdoor cafe in Stockholm, my wife and I sat next to a carousing group that bought us repeated shots of aquavit. Skoal!
For unique sports, how about hurling in Ireland? Hurling is a sort of aerial field hockey, where a hard ball is thrown or struck by a stick with a flat end. The idea is to hit the ball into a net (three points) or between goal posts over the net (one point). The game is fast, exciting and strictly Irish.
In the other direction, there’s California — a land of extremes — always a great place to visit. Death Valley, east of the Sierras, is low, dry and stark. The Central Valley, west of the Sierras, is wet, fertile and grows everything — from cauliflower to cantaloupe and all manner of fruit. Great sweeping fields of produce. And the Sierras themselves, with their snowfields and national parks, are high and photogenic.
Anyway, it’s good to be back. Back to more meetings, eroded beaches and tropical rain — every day. Home sweet home.