By Jae-Ha Kim
Tribune Media Services
November 2, 2010
Born in San Jose, Calif., and currently residing in Manhattan, scientist Michio Kaku enjoys traveling with his wife. “One of my favorite places is Germany,” says Dr. Kaku, 63. “In its glory days prior to World War II, it was ranked No. 1 in science and is known as the place that gave birth to modern quantum theory. For a scientist, it’s about as close as you could get to a sacred site.” A leading theoretical physicist, Kaku also is a television personality who hosts the Science Channel’s “Sci Fi Science.”
Q. What is your favorite vacation destination?
A. Switzerland, for several reasons. First, it’s the land of Einstein and is where the theory of relativity was born. Visiting Switzerland, there is almost a sense of reverence realizing that you’re visiting his apartment in Berne. It’s amazing to think that he changed the world from this tiny apartment. Second, CERN Laboratory (located on the Franco-Swiss border near Geneva) — where I hope to test the string theory — is close by. That’s my day job — trying to complete Einstein’s theory. Third, my wife skis and there’s great skiing there. Switzerland has everything — warm, welcoming people, an ancient culture and a history of tolerance. That’s why Einstein called it home. It’s the Vatican of science. Plus, it’s so beautiful with all the cottages, skiers, goats … it’s like something out of a children’s book. We love it there.
Q. Where are your favorite weekend getaways?
A. My wife likes to go antiquing and so when we have spare time, she’ll drag me along. There are quite a few warehouses that make you think you’re in a Home Depot! We find them near Stamford, Conn., Red Bank, N.J., and Somerville, N.J. She’s definitely the antiques expert, so I tag along and learn all about porcelain and the art of making dinnerware. And this is a longer getaway, but my wife and I were in Venice, Italy, again last month and it was such a nice visit because it’s such a dream city. There’s no urban sprawl. We saw Marco Polo’s apartment. Or at least that’s what the tour guide told us. It’s like going back in a time machine because it’s an ancient city that still looks like what it did hundreds of years ago. When we visited Rome, it was spectacular, but there’s very little remnants left of the Roman Empire. Over the centuries, people scavenged and looted the marble from the Coliseum and the Forum so you may find some in people’s homes, rather than where it originally was.
Q. What are your favorite hotels?
A. I spoke at a conference in Chiang Mai, Thailand once and we stayed at the Four Seasons and it was absolutely stunning. They spared nothing to create this palatial atmosphere.
Q. When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A. Laptop, BlackBerry and a connection to the Internet. It’s amazing to be in a very ancient city and communicate with someone halfway around the world.
Q. What are your five favorite cities?
A. Venice, because it’s like this fairyland that’s been preserved. Geneva, Switzerland. Dresden in Germany. Moscow and St. Petersburg are just gorgeous. When you think of Russia you think of a dark, wintery surrounding. But they have some beautiful, bright cities.
Q. Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A. In general I would like to explore Latin America more. My wife likes to visit all the continents of the world so we love traveling together.
Q. What is your best and/or worst vacation memory?
A. The best memories were made in all the places we visited in Switzerland, and in Venice, too. Just being transported in time and meeting all the people was great. Those were wonderful trips. As for worst memories, I’m very lucky. I can’t think of any.
© 2010 JAE-HA KIM
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