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What’s your happiest place?

I believe a book should signal the beginning of a conversation, not the end. So I’d like to hear about your happiest places. It might be a favorite country or city. Or perhaps a park or café that, for whatever reason, brings a smile to your face. A genuine smile. Tell me about your happiest place and I’ll post some of the responses here.

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The Frank Church River of No Return Wilderness in Idaho. Many natural hot springs, quiet mountain passes, clear creeks. Camping is private and secluded in September. But it wouldn’t be a happy place without my husband. It’s all about the sharing.
—Melissa

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Humahuaca, in Northern Argentina. Peaceful and humble surroundings, the only opulence being the High Andes back curtain
—Angel

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The red rocks of Sedona, AZ. Amazing colors, clear skies, trees and agaves growing sideways out of rocks, trails to ramble for hours upon end. Breathe
—Kim

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Venice. I felt giddy there .In fact, I felt like I was being tickled my entire stay.
—Linda Lee

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North Georgia Mountains. The air is clear and way off the beaten path folks live simply and take joy in small things: the first lady slipper in the spring, the first frost on the kudzu, a fallen tree for easy firewood. The older your car, the more you’re in style. Heaven.
—Diane

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Most places are as happy as we make them. I have even been happy wandering through Gaza City. Sometimes just a returned smile is enough.
—Mark

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Full City Coffee in Eugene, Oregon, puts an all-is-right-with-the-world smile on my face each time I visit (And I’ve surely visited thousands of times by now.) No matter how long I’ve been away, the thing I look forward to the most upon returning to Eugene is the first time I walk through the doors of that Pearl Street cafe again. I can still see the smiles on the familiar faces, smell the phenomenally well roasted coffee in the air, hear the pleasant conversation, and know that when I walk through the door I’ll be welcomed like a best friend.
—David

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Findhorn, in Scotland, home to a spiritual community, a very peaceful and sacred village.
—Marilisa

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India. Despite it being a place I have never been, I smile at the thought of India. I don’t know why it is, but when I stress out, I dream of India, what it would smell like, sound like, taste like, look like, all of it, and I am better. I wish I had a personal experience to back it up, but I do believe that once I do it will be the same. India to me is happiness
—Nicole

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At my piano with friends who enjoy my playing.
—Mickey

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Spain. There are so many wonderful things about Spain and so many lovely cities: Segovia, Toledo, Alicante, Sevilla, Zaragoza. However, what stand out the most are: -Walking through the streets of Cordoba at night, which is in itself is already fantastic, proved to be an incredible social experience. -Madrid: accidentally stumbling upon the gardens of Palacio Real, Sunday picnic in El Retiro and rowing in El Estanque, seeing Guernica in Museo Reina Sofia, simply wandering the city. And… Granada. La Alhambra is stunning and it will enchant me forever; seeing it at night was absolutely astounding.
—Arvada

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The lovely rolling hills of southern Pennsylvania is agricultural & horse country. It looks as it is, peaceful.
—Nanacy

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It’s sunny everyday, The sun makes me feel alive, and feel the essence of life flow through me when walking, hiking, swimming. The hills shine bright orangey-red in the glow of the sunset. The desert scenery a light green color soothing to the eyes. I found happiness in Phoenix, AZ
—Howard

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My family and I had the opportunity to spend one year at a too big/not so little capital city of Hokkaido, Japan. The locals are friendly, helpful and loving. The city is of big size but not overly powering. My loves besides the people is the open markets, crows, peaceful fields, hot springs, cherry blossom festival, bon odori and the snow on the mountain in the winter. I miss and long for this place, if I can only go back..
—Susan

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Mountain part of republic of Georgia, place called Khevsureti – it’s my favorite.
—Kety

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Montana. Truly the last best place. need I say more?
—Madelynn

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Despite Tanzania being listed last on the Happiness Scale, I grew up there and find it is the place I most want to be and happiest when I am there.
—John

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I have done a lot of traveling. I lived in Japan for 3 years and South Korea for one year. The happiest people I have ever seen are Filipinos. I vacationed there twice and despite everything, they are always smiling.
—Adam

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The most wonderful place to live is Moldova, i was there and it’s a really beautiful country, the nature is amazing and u can meet there very nice and beautiful people
—Lana

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Vang Vieng, Laos. Friendly fun-loving locals, great weather, playing in nature, food you can dig your hands into, excellent coffee, what more can you ask for.
—Karin

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Walking around the hills of Llangollen in North Wales. Sublime
—Paul

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Floating in a rowboat at night in the middle of the South Atlantic Ocean. Suspended between the stars and their watery reflections, I didn’t know if I was falling up or down. Now that I’m back ashore, I return there every night in that span between eye shut and sleep. It makes me happy because I’ve found a place where I can fly.
—Bernie

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The rolling hills and dales of Yorkshire…I grew up on a farm in the middle of the desert reading James Herriot novels. Upon spying the verdant green hills speckled with sheep and the low stone walls I beamed and could not stop for some time…THIS was exactly what I had read about and dreamed of. Oh happy day!
—Melissa

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Okinawa. It’s laid back, not to mention warm and fuzzy–with humidity, that is, but I like it anyway. The land has had a heaping share of war time sorrow, but it gives back beauty. Flowers. Butterflies bigger than my hand. Incredible skyscapes, whether the sun is coming up, shining in the blue, hiding in a storm, or going down in a blaze of fire over an ocean the color of melting jewels. I love the rhythm of Okinawa music and the sound of the three-stringed sanshin. I love the way people get up and dance, just because they feel like it. When I step off the plane and walk through the airport’s orchid-lined corridor, the Okinawa air wraps me in a fragrant hug as if to say, “Welcome home.”
—Celine

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The tiny UNESCO protected town of Cesky Krumlov in the Czech Republic makes me happy just thinking about it. Nestled in the pristine valley of the Sumava Mountains, the Vltava river gently twists and turns its way beneath the baroque tower of Krumlov Castle, where I was lucky enough to both fall in love with and marry my husband. It is a town from a fairy-tale but also a town where you can sit with your feet dangling in the river, a beer in your hand and all of your big city cares miles away
—Bethany

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Three years ago I visited Playa del Carmen, about 30 miles south of Cancun, Mexico. I walked the beach there during the full moon alone, I met European transplants who had fallen in love with Mexican culture and the beaches, I watched the Simpsons with locals on a TV they had pulled into the street after their shop closed for the evening and toured the Mayan ruins. The smiles, the warm weather, the diversity of people, the food, the music and the tequila were unforgettable and every day I spent there I reveled in a joy I have carried with me since then.
—Sarah

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A brisk fall day when my wife and I would walk over crispy yellow and red leaves from our apartment off of Montford Avenue to downtown Ashville NC and enjoy some coffee and pastries at Old Europe Cafe. If I had one last day on earth I would spend it in this fashion.
—Jeremy

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Tasmania is my favorite place in the world. The two weeks I spent there the only thing I was sad about was leaving. The sunsets and the views all over the island are amazing to say the least.
—Allie

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Aside from Bhutan (and Sloane Street in London when everything is finally on sale,) I would say one of my happiest places has been the kitchen in my house on R Street in DC. I cried the day we sold that place, as I lingered in the doorway glancing back at that sliver of a room. I will always associate some of the best, and worst, meals of my life with that kitchen. As horrible as some of the dishes were, the one constant they all had in common was the great company that shared the food with us.
—Steven

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The first two times in Bangkok–I hated it! Could not get beyond heat and traffic–then, magic. Loved the place, the people, the heat, the tuk tuks, Patpong Road madness, the Emerald Buddha, the Golden Buddha, the monks, early morning, glorious street food, massages,–I have always been a “let it go” person–I finally had permission!
—Roberta

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Scuba diving off the coast of Florida, being surrounded by tiny jellies sparkling in the sun, I felt that I was part of something larger than myself.
—Lili

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When coming back to Montreal, where I have been living 15 years. I like walking on Sainte-Catherine street, specially during lunch time. Everyone speaks loud and use french or english language or even both languages together.
—Marie-Claude

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Last May I took a trip to a small beach town Tamarindo, Costa Rica. I spent one perfect evening sitting on an empty beach in perfect weather listening to my iPod and while watching the waves. And the next morning I spent eating the best piece of coconut cream I had ever had at a little shack right of the sand. I don’t know what I was looking for when I started to travel, but I found a little piece of it there. Maybe it was happiness, or maybe it was just really good pie.
—Ed

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My happiest place is just before dawn when it feels like the whole world is still asleep and the promise of a new day is on it’s way at sunrise.
—Joanne

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Chisinau, Moldova is my happiest place in the world. I’ve been to NYC, USA , France, Hungary etc…but nothing compares to our green hills, to our real and tasty food, to our real milk, to beautiful Moldovans…and beautiful not only by face, but by their soul too…and of course, Chisinau – the recognized most green capital of Europe!!!
—Liudmila

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Sandia Park, New Mexico – I get giddy when I’m there as I ride my bicycle on route 14 towards Madrid, NM the views are magnificent, the expanses are so freeing, the air so clear, the sun, the dryness, the silence – God, it’s great -it let’s happiness reign inside me – being from north Jersey with all the hustle, bustle, shoving, scrambling for money
—Jack

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Wandering the thousand-year-old village of my ancestors in England’s Cotswolds region in late May, as the ground exhales its contained nutrients and aromas and the sunlight makes the knolls and creeks sparkle their promise of all kinds of harvests. Somehow life feels bigger there than the span of my own years and accomplishments. And the ales are tastier, too.
—Vicki

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My happiest place is Sand Harbor beach, near Incline, at Lake Tahoe, California. Floating in a raft in the tiny bay with craggy mountains nearby, deep blue sky overhead & differing hues of green & blue below me, seems to always hit my joy spot. The air is scented with big sugary pine trees & the water (contrary to the environmentalists) is exceptionally clear. The hot sun is relaxing & the cool water swim is invigorating.
—Susan

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On the porch of abuelo’s casa in El Escorial. Perfection
—Rhonda

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It’s in the Shawangunks, a long series of ridges west of New Paltz, New York, famous among rock climbers for its cliffs. I’ve hiked all over those mountains and great places abound. But my favorite by far lies at the end of the Trapps, the most famous of the climbing cliffs, at the far end of a wetland snugged in a cleft between two ridges. Here the Trapps cliff finally falls apart, literally. Huge blocks of rock have fallen away to form a standing tower and a complex of talus caves inside and all around the tower. Here’s the thing. Climb partway up the intact cliff and look back at the tower and there’s a sphynx–leonine head and two paws, clear as day. You can spend half a day exploring the caves and picnicing on the sphynx’s head, or you can perch between the paws and look out over the quiet little vail hoping the marsh wren skitters out onto the water from her own little cave in the moss.
—Steven

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New York makes me happy. The excitement of the city: Broadway shows, museums, restaurants, ethnic neighborhoods, exist along with the calmness and beauty of surburbia: green lawns, flowers, historic homes. New York State has mountains, cities and above all beaches. If I’m stressed or lonely, a walk on the beach makes me happy. The eternity of the ocean, the crashing of the waves, the knowledge that each wave is new yet returns to its source to change and renew itself is comforting and peaceful.
—Dede

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Hana, Maui is a place where time stands still. The phone never rings and the crystal clear waters and waves of Hamoa Beach, the sound of the e bamboo forest, palm trees in the breeze, the smell of plumerias and early morning rain and laughter of my children and friends and soothe my soul and rejuvenate my spirit.
—Patrice