Yxta Maya Murray
Novelist and Law Professor, Loyola Law School

I took a rocking trip to Italy last summer with my husband. Carbs and art. I threw my discipline into the canal. I was on a constant pasta high. It was a pasta-soaked art orgy. Highlights would be Venice, which was like a drowning fairy city. You can see history disappearing like Atlantis. The Basilica of San Marco has Byzantine architecture. Inside it's filled with mosaics made of gold. The gold shines down on you like rain. In Florence, it's like there are ghosts in the walls because there are all these frescoes: the works of Michelangelo and the women who look like men. It makes you want to be a Renaissance prince like Lorenzo de' Medici.

Discovery: My favorite museum was the Bargello in Florence. My favorite piece is by Michelangelo, of Bacchus. It's a sculpture, really exquisite pornography. Bacchus is beautifully built, and he has this wine cup. There's a little satyr eating grapes with this lascivious smile and cuddling up to Bacchus. You want to rip off your clothes and go running into the fields and drink wine.

Landon Donovan
Forward, Los Angeles Galaxy

I went to Bora-Bora in March with [girlfriend] Bianca [Kajlich]. Bianca said it was the only place that we could possibly go. The climate was perfect: as much sun as we could get. We didn't do much. I just wanted to sit out on the deck, wade around in the water, maybe go kayaking or snorkel. [In] the over-water bungalows you see ocean life beneath you. It's like watching National Geographic beneath your floor. We stayed at the Bora Bora Pearl Beach Resort. The hotel is very modern, but they keep the Polynesian feel. In town it's very old-school, not touristy. It's their life, their world, and you become a part of it.

Discovery: There's a restaurant on the main island called Bloody Mary's. You leave your sandals at the door. It's all sand throughout the restaurant. They have every kind of fish you can imagine.

Mark Ridley-Thomas
Assembly member, 48th Assembly District

We went to Atlanta to see my twin sons off to college. They're freshmen at Morehouse College. There were a number of ceremonies. One was called "Welcome to the House," where they had presentations [in the voice of] many historical figures such as Martin Luther King Jr., who was a Morehouse graduate, Howard Thurman, Maynard Jackson. Some of the upperclassmen took on these roles.

The parting ceremony was filled with rich tradition. There was a box with written notes from all 800 students' parents or guardians. This box was taken to the obelisk of Howard Thurman, who was a celebrated theologian. That was special. It's what you see my wife and me doing [in the photo].

We took nice walks in Piedmont Park. You wouldn't want to go [to Atlanta] without visiting Paschal's, one of the traditional soul food places. And we found ourselves at the King memorial and the church he co-pastored: the Ebenezer Baptist Church. Now it's a historic monument.

Discovery: We ate at Lush, a vegetarian house that was very impressive. My wife is a vegetarian, and we celebrated her 50th birthday there.

Margaret Cho

I went to Cairo to study belly dance because I'm a belly dancer. The Ahlan Wa Sahlan festival happens once a year. Dancers come from all over the world. I'd never been to the Middle East before. I spent the days taking classes. I stayed right underneath the Pyramids and didn't go once, which is terrible. The hotel, the Mena House Oberoi in Giza, is really beautiful. It's really old. One day we went to the Khan al Khalili, the big marketplace in Cairo. I bought, like, 10 belly dance costumes.

Discovery: There's a great whirling dervish show, a Sufi show, Wednesday and Saturday nights in the Citadel. Dervishes spin for 45 minutes or an hour. It defies logic and things like equilibrium.

—Compiled by Leslee Komaiko