My Favorite Place on Earth
Leah Walker October 19, 2011

A couple of years ago I was killing time at Borders Books prior to a meeting. As always, I went directly to the travel section. I scanned the latest guide books for my obsession de jour, and then moved on to the travel memoirs. Mixed in with the latest Frances Mayes and Bill Bryson books, I spotted, My Favorite Place on Earth: Celebrated People Share Their Travel Discoveries.

National Geographic writer, Jerry Camarillo Dunn, compiled 74 essays by actors, athletes, musicians, business moguls, and even His Holiness, the Dalai Lama, describing their favorite places on Earth, with the exception of Buzz Aldrin and Sally Ride. They, of course, chose Tranquility Base on The Moon and Earth’s Orbit respectively.

Blue Marble
Earth from space, stef thomas via Flickr

I flipped through the book, stopping at the people and places I found intriguing. Paris and London were popular choices, along with Jerusalem, San Francisco, and New York City. Some were quite specific (“My Parents’ Victory Garden, Chatham, New Jersey”). While others were quite vague (“The Middle of the Atlantic Ocean”).

I was instantly sucked in. I wanted to skip my meeting and curl up in a corner of the book store and read. I wanted to know why the Caribbean is so special to Morgan Freeman, and why Jean Houston loves America by train. I promptly took the book to the register and plopped down my credit card.

Sunset train at Santa Barbara Station
Train at sunset at the Santa Barbara Station, WildVanilla (Rob) via Flickr

On the way to the meeting, my mind was drawn again to the book. What is my favorite place on Earth? How would I respond given that same question? Cities, countries, islands, oceans, rivers, and parks all raced through my mind. How does one pick their favorite place when all are special in one way or another? I would imagine it’s like picking a favorite child. I racked my brain for the answer. As I slid into the parking lot, it hit me.

My favorite place on Earth is George Bush Intercontinental Airport’s Terminal E.

Bush Intercontinental Airport - Houston, TX
Bush Intercontinental Airport, Houston, Hyku via Flickr

It’s strange sounding, I know. E is Continental’s international terminal, and so many of my journeys begin here. Once I step foot into Terminal E I begin to feel that nervous, excited anticipation that comes with travel. I am a kid again. I have no idea what lies ahead, but that’s just part of the fun. Terminal E is my last chance to eat Tex-Mex and buy a sugar free Red Bull. Its hubbub of activity only adds to my excitement. I watch other travelers. I wonder what their story is. I get drunk on Terminal E’s action.

IAH Terminal E
IAH Terminal E gates, cmakin via Flickr

Terminal E also welcomes me home. Its concrete arms envelop me as if to say, “Texas has missed you.” And I have missed Texas. I am greeted by a fajita taco, a sugar free Red Bull, and a ton of souvenirs shaped like the Lone Star State. My arrival to Terminal E reminds me that I’m just a long walk to baggage claim, a short shuttle to my car, and a 30 minute drive to home.

The world is at my fingertips when I’m at IAH Terminal E, and thus, it is my favorite place on Earth.

Bush Intercont'l Airport
A welcomed route home from Bush, rutlo via Flickr

What’s your favorite place on Earth?

Leah Walker

Leah's a luxury travel and food writer who has as many stories as she does shoes. She documents her experiences whether that's in the lap of luxury or riding through a swamp in an airboat. Leah freelances and has contributor/editor roles with The Daily Meal, The Daily Basics, Bonjour Paris, France Today, Luxe Beat Magazine, Four Seasons Magazine, Forbes Travel Guide, and is a travel ambassador for Atout France USA. Leah's thrilled to call Paris home after being awarded the coveted three-year Compétences & Talents visa from France, though her talents don't extend to speaking French. Yet.

19 Comments

  1. I don’t know. I think that is a hard question to answer. It could change from time to time depending on where you have been.

    I think for me, right now it is Yasur Volcano on Tanna iIsland in Vanuatu. I have never had an experience like that before.

    It was just awesome and something that I will never forget.

    Good question!

  2. Holy cow! That place is amazing…simply spectacular.

    It really is a difficult question. i guess I kind of copped out by choosing an airport since I can get anywhere in the world from that point. You are so right; I think it will change depending on where you’ve been. I always think that the next trip will be my best trip. Sometimes it’s not, but they are all great for different reasons.

    Thanks for reading.

    1. You’re right, nothing beats that feeling of getting to the terminal. I’m a ball of anxiety until I’m sitting at my gate. It’s worth the lugging of the suitcases, the shuttles, groping of security, and all the crowds just to step foot on that plane for the next adventure. Where’s your favorite place?

      1. I’m the exact same way! Stressed out, worried, anxious…until, I get to the gate and sit. Then I’m ridiculously happy. It’s worth everything. Well, I agree with you on the terminal, but I’d take any one. Other than that, my favorite place in the world is Thailand.- absolutely in love. Have you been?

        1. Regretfully, no, I haven’t been to Thailand. It’s on our shortlist. I thought it would be our next trip, but we are opting for New Zealand and Brazil instead. When my husband and I were in China last year for his work, we were going to take a side trip, but life happened and we didn’t make it. Same for when we were in Singapore. We just never got there.

          It will happen, but I’m curious, what is your favorite area of Thailand?

          1. I loved NZ, and I want to get to Brazil soon. That’s so exciting! I didn’t get to the islands, but Chiang Mai was incredible. There’s so much to see up there, and it’s breath-taking. The people are some of the nicest I’ve met. It truly is the Land of Smiles.

  3. I was just looking at your blog and saw that you’ve been to NZ. I’ll be there in less than a month, and I am thrilled. What was your favorite part?

    My husband has been to Brazil many times, but this is my first. We’re visiting friends in Rio for Carnival. I don’t think I can be prepared for the feast my eyes will have. It’s going to be sensory overload.

    You’re not the first person I’ve talked to that has loved Chiang Mai. Isn’t that were the elephant refuge is?

    1. NZ is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s beautiful everywhere you look. Are you doing the North and South Island? We only got to do the North, since we were there for a week and then headed to Fiji. I would suggest heading to Taupo and driving the Desert Road. The views and natural beauty are unmatchable to anywhere in the world.
      I also loved Martinborough, such a cute town and a ton of wineries to choose from. It was our replacement for Marlborough. Then head to Wellington. It’s a great city with so much to do and see – Cuba Street and Courtenay Place have great bars and restaurants. You are going to enjoy every second!

      Carnival should be wonderful – though, yes, a sensory overload. I am looking forward to your posts about it and pictures!

      There are a bunch of elephant refuges and camps in the area. We were on a 4×4 tour for three days and went here: http://www.maesaelephantcamp.com/ Elephants are my favorite animal, so this place was incredible for me.

  4. Haha, I always head to the travel section straightway when in Borders, Books-a-Million or any other bookstore. No need to bother with anything else, right? Love your favorite place and totally get why. I would have to think for a few on my favorite place on earth, but it is more than likely somewhere in Central America….Guatemala….perhaps. CA is where I have spent the most time and I feel a connection there-it’s where I really figured out that you CAN just buy a plane ticket, show up in a country, and have a blast.

    1. Exactly! What other section does one need in the bookstore!

      I’ve not been to Guatemala, but I understand it is wonderful. Costa Rica is the only place in Central America that I’ve been. When I was a kid I loved going to the airport. I just couldn’t believe that it was the starting point to get to any place in the entire world. It just amazed me. If you have the money or the miles you can go where ever your heart desires. That’s part of the fun. Glad to know there are others like me. 🙂

  5. Wow. Airport terminals are my least favourite place on earth. But I’m still travelling, I’m sure once I stop for a while I will start thinking about the departure lounge too. My favourite place was Santorini, Greece for a while. Not because it’s super touristy, but because of the awesome time I had with fantastic people while I was there. Everyday was fun, fresh, adventurous, and exciting. But I think it got overtaken by one of the lesser-known Croatian Islands, Vis. The time I spent there was unforgettable, due to a certain someone I shared a tent with. Not sure I will ever go back though, because it will never be the same again. One of those “we’ll always have Vis” memories that won’t be repeated. Thanks for the inspiration.

    1. I know exactly what you mean about how the company you have making a place much better. I met my husband while I was studying in Costa Rica; it was a magical place. I went back without him ten years later, and it just wasn’t the same. I had a wonderful time, but that spark was gone.

      Santorini sounds wonderful, and it’s on my list of places to visit. My suggestion is to not go back to Vis. Keep that feeling in your heart; don’t even run the risk of losing it!

  6. This was an amazing blog post. I could feel the excitement I get when I hit the airport and I am about to take a trip. I often wonder where other people are traveling to? I absolutely loved this one.

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