I recently returned from a 10 day trip to the Galapagos Islands and, for those who know me, it may be unheard of for me to take an actual vacation. However, this was no ordinary "vacation" but an intellectual experience (via Linblad Tours and National Geographic). The Galapagos Islands were the site in which a young twenty-something kid named Charles Darwin got the germ of the idea of evolution by natural selection. Just to be able to go to a place in which idea that changed the world like Darwin's took root is inspiring in its own right.
Imagine being in a place in which Darwin is appropriately lionized with statues of him in skateparks (another one of my loves)!
The expedition I was on was led by naturalists all of whom were experts on the myriad geographic, oceanographic, and biologic facts concerning the Galapagos. They are a class of their own and I imagine myself being an "infectious disease naturalist" -- if such a thing existed. While sea lions, iguanas, lizards, and exotic birds were constant visual presences, science, inquisitiveness, and rationality were the constant intellectual presences.
Darwin's pathbreaking insights into life -- the mystery of mysteries -- are the bedrock of infectious disease and explain so much so elegantly. Walking in a place in which such profound thought took place is an exhilarating experience.