Some days, I wake up longing for Slovenia.
My obsession is somewhat odd, seeing as I never had any particular ambition to visit Slovenia. When I found myself there, as part of a work project, I knew barely anything about the country and came and went within a span of less than 24 hours.
But, man, did that 24 hours make an impression. I rented a car at the Ljubljana airport and drove over pointy green mountians into the Soča Valley. Tiny ancient villages clung to steep hillsides, old stone and lush grass and tiny purple and yellow flowers covering everything. I had to keep pulling over to gape in wonder at the outrageous countryside.
At my first glimpse of the Soča river, I laughed in delight. Known as “the emerald river,” it is a startling blue/green color, like nothing I’d ever seen before. Slovenia was like the alpine fairyland of my childhood imagination, and I had never even been aware of its existence, outside of knowing the country’s name and approximate location.
I drove back over those mountains the next morning, full of sadness that my time there was so short. I’ll go back one day. It is a place I love.
With those kinds of experiences in mind, The New York Times Travel team reaches out to writers and editors every year and asks them for places that might be included in the annual 52 Places to Go package, our most ambitious list of must-see destinations.
But we all know it would be a cruel joke to release 52 Places to Go in 2021 this coming January, since travel is unlikely — and downright impossible — for most readers.
So instead, the package will be temporarily rebranded as 52 Places We Love, and rather than ask the usual group of insiders to make those selections, the Travel section is turning to readers. In its call for submissions (and yes, you should participate), the Travel team writes:
While we can’t know what lies ahead, we can still share the places we’ve loved, and continue to inspire curiosity, open-mindedness and awe for the wider world.
That’s why we’re turning to you for next year’s list, which we are calling 52 Places We Love.
We want 52 love letters to travel, all penned and photographed by you, our readers around the world, each about one place in the world that is special to you. It can be a popular tourist destination, or a place that’s largely overlooked. You might inspire someone else to go there one day, or to reconsider their assumptions, or to spark their inquisitiveness about a new piece of the world — all the empowering things that travel brings to our lives.
Is there somewhere in the world you feel the way I do about Slovenia? If so, they would love to hear from you. Do you feel passionate about somewhere in Australia? Last year there was only one Australian location that made the cut (the Kimberley region), so it would be nice to see some strong Aussie representation on 2021’s list — both in terms of submissions and locations.
And now for the week’s stories:
Australia and New Zealand