Once again, I’m flying back from somewhere as I write this letter. My plane, a Boeing 767 LR from Delta, is now 33,987 feet above the Atlantic Ocean, heading for JFK from Berlin Tegel Airport. Only this time it’s different. In place of the pleasure I usually feel as the moment approaches when I will restore my BlackBerry connections and send my standard “I’m home! I love you” message to my family, I’m worried about the news I’ll hear. A short while before I woke up this morning at Berlin’s classic Hotel Adlon Kempinski, an earthquake of staggering proportions hit Japan; a tsunami was predicted, and for all I know it may be battering Japan or Hawaii, or another stretch of the Pacific Rim, at this very moment.
What horrifyingly different news of the world from what I had been hearing during the past two days at the ITB Berlin travel trade show! The tourism representatives I met with spoke of their countries’ successes—increases in international arrival numbers, cultural preservation projects, new hotels, resorts, museums—the results of initiatives that were carefully conceived and monitored. The unexpected, so frequently an added dividend of travel, in this case is devastating. There is no doubt, however, that the essence of a destination, particularly one as vital and vivid as Japan, will transcend disaster.
In this issue we spotlight 25 Secret Island Escapes; follow contributing editor Adam Sachs to the Dolomites, stopping off at charming family-run inns, hiking, and enjoying some hearty and delicious meals. We also visit Charleston, South Carolina, the childhood home and frequent haunt of those chroniclers of Southern cooking, and T+L contributing editors, Matt Lee and Ted Lee, who go beyond the city’s traditional Southern image to uncover its authentic flavors and youthful energy. I’m pleased to introduce two new columns this month: “Man in a Suitcase,” by our award-winning editor-at-large, Peter Jon Lindberg, who has been writing for T+L over the past 15 years, and “Airport Critic,” by contributing editor Karrie Jacobs. You’ll find the first edition of this magazine’s annual Travel Tech Awards, by technology expert and writer Tom Samiljan. These very words are being written in the Pages app on my iPad and will be e-mailed to my office almost at the same moment my arrival message is making its journey to my husband, son, and daughter, a reflection of the role that portable tech devices play in my life and my career.
Travel puts names and faces on people in what were once distant places. There is really no far from home these days, and when the unexpected turns bad, the loss is personal.
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