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A Room With a View

Since we evolved out of the primordial soup, we humans sure like to keep our gaze fixed firmly on the water–and we’re willing to pay more and more to keep it there. Take the case of the double-wides over in Briny Breezes, Florida. In December, a group of trailer home owners were offered millions of dollars. Why? The lots overlook a spectacular stretch of Florida beach. This week, by an overwhelming vote, the mobile home owners ratified the agreement. And that’s the way it goes. Whether it’s a cruise ship or a Maui hotel, rooms with a view always fetch a premium price.

When I first moved to California as a starry-eyed east coaster, my main goal was to find an apartment with a view of the ocean. To meet my budget, I literally ended up in a pigeon trap of a place, with a fire-eating boardwalk performer for a building manager, but I had my ocean view, and–as they say–watching the sunset over the Pacific from my living room couch: priceless.

I’ve learned the hard way that a bad view can cast a negative pall over an entire vacation, like when I pulled back the window shade in a Utah hotel, and found an inexplicable stack of oxygen tanks right outside. Or, there was the time when I stayed by the Oakland Airport and overlooked a 24-hour fast-food drive-through with a very popular parking lot.

So I understand why the trailer homes are worth so much. An ocean view is constantly in motion, with ever-changing colors, a soothing soundtrack, and the endless drama of ships, sky, and seagulls. For many of us, it’s a visible reminder we’re not at home any more, that we’re somewhere ripe with new adventures and possibilities.

Now that I live in San Francisco, I’ve traded my sunset couch in for a convenient location, which is why I’m always willing to shell out a little more when I travel for a view of the sea. But how much is too much? Can you put a price on an ocean view?


My name: Rachel Berg.

Favorite way to get around: By Venetian gondola during starlit high tide, gliding past decaying and slightly spooky palaces, with perhaps a bottle of prosecco placed between the gondola seat cushions.

View that took my breath away: Unable to sleep in the mystical city of Sfat in Israel, I wandered outdoors predawn and was treated to a purple-on-purple sunrise below the mountaintop that seemed to emerge feet-first through ground-level clouds.

Greatest travel lesson learned: Sunny weather isn't everything. Some of my best travel memories involve go-karting through a deluge turned mud-fest in Mexico, drinking tea in the cold Denali tundra, and watching electric thunderstorms roll through national parks out West.

Most challenging travel moment: Getting leveled by altitude sickness in Cuzco and realizing that my body was forcing me to slow down and rest despite the fact that there was so much to do and see.

Travel ambition: To see the northern lights.

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