Which country is your absolute, all-time favorite?

By Armond Noble
This item appears on page 77 of the August 2011 issue.

Here’s another game with prizes… and a bit of fame for those fortunate to have their entries picked (at random) out of the big box.

Which country is your absolute, all-time favorite? We’ll tabulate and print here the entries, which may have some readers going off to a country you particularly enjoyed.

Since the most recent trip is often the freshest in one’s mind, you’ll have to search your experiences to be objective. I’ve heard people, just back, say, “Oh, the people in XXXX are the friendliest people I’ve ever met,” with that same phrase getting repeated with each subsequent trip.

In the past, when we’ve run our “favorite country” contests, there were always those who couldn’t make up their minds. We allowed split votes. Up to three. Which, as you would imagine, made for mucho logging here. So this time you can vote for up to two, with each receiving one-half of a whole vote.

For those of you who are torn in anguish as to which country to vote for, you might consider this: “Of all the countries I’ve been to, which one would I most be willing to retire in?” (I recently talked to a man here in Sacramento, CA, who in retirement just moved to a small town in Austria. He said that a few years ago when he arrived in that town, it felt like home to him.)

Many people retire in overseas countries. You’re not going to shovel snow off your driveway in Cyprus (where a great many British people retire). Costa Rica used to be a retirement haven, but some changes in their laws have made it less so now.

And now a new wrinkle in our “favorite country” game — it’s called “I wouldn’t go back there even if the entire trip were free!” It’s your chance to be really mean. Name your least-favorite nation.

Okay, here’s how to enter (remember to include your name and ZIP code). Computer — Armond@intltravelnews.com. Postal mail — Favorite Country, c/o ITN, 2116 28th St., Sacramento, CA 95818-1910.

You can enter both parts of the game or, if you prefer, just one part. I suspect that many of our readers, being kind and genteel people, won’t put down the “yuk!” country. Surprise me. Contest ends September 15, 2011.

New subject (and we’ll print your answers here, to bring some pleasure to other readers). Have you ever bought a CD of the music of a country you were in? Tell us about that music and the artist. Possibly, others will find it enjoyable also.

While it’s not from a foreign country, you might like, from the USA, “Sketches of Spain” by Miles Davis. The tracks are “Concierto de Aranjuez,” “Will o’ the Wisp,” “The Pan Piper,” “Saeta” and “Solea.”

“Will o’ the Wisp” was written by Manuel de Falla and “Concierto” by Joaquín Rodrigo. Should you be as captivated by “Concierto” as I was, there is a longer version on a CD with Gil Evans, Chet Baker and Paul Desmond.

After returning from a country, have you become so interested in that nation that you bought books about its history? What are the names of those books? Others may avail themselves of the same books after reading your recommendations.

I’ve read a great deal about “The Battle of Britain” and wondered how any author could come up with something about it that hadn’t been written before. However, I just finished “A Summer Bright and Terrible” by David E. Fisher. Great!

Don’t forget, we want to hear from you… and you. More heads put together are better than a few.