Thursday, May 3, 2012

My Travel Bucket List

Carl has always found it amusing that (after reading) traveling is my favorite hobby. I can't count the number of trips I've planned and not taken. I just love going to the library and coming home with a big stack of travel books.

I've had a travel bucket list for a number of years. Its how I ended up deciding on Switzerland for our last big trip, and for Montreal and Quebec City for the previous one. But as I rapidly approach Year 40, I've realized I only have so many years left, and way too many places to visit. So in honor of turning 40, I've narrowed it down, and created my Travel Bucket - The Top 40

1. Chawton Cottage, England
Jane Austen's home, which I have never visited despite having lived in England and made numerous trips to England, and its not as if I wasn't a fan during those times. So how have I missed this?? Happily, this dream is about to come true. I'll be there May 19, our very first stop in the UK after landing at Heathrow and picking up the rental car. :)

2. Alaska
I've been planning a two week vacation there for decades, but have never managed to get there. It will start with a cruise up from Vancouver after visiting Victoria Gardens, through the Inner Passage, and visiting the glaciers before they are gone. Its estimated they only have about ten good years left thanks to global warming. So I have to balance this  urgency with waiting for the kids to be old enough to appreciate the natural beauty of the state before we go. We'll end the cruise with a week in Alaska, visiting Denali and some of the other national parks.
3. Australia
Dating back to my little girl love for Olivia Newton-John and koalas, this is high up there. Its also high up in costs and unpleasantly long air travel, so who knows when I'll finally make it to the land of Oz.

4. New Zealand
My brother spent six weeks here after Dad died, and I helped him plan his travels. Its just breathtakingly beautiful, as evidenced in the Lord of the Rings films. But for the same reasons as Australia, its unlikely to happen soon.

5. Bora Bora and the French Polynesia
And I simply must stay in one of those huts over the water with a glass bottom floor. Carl and I made a pact years ago with my Dad that we would go there when our net worth made it to seven figures (Dad always was a dreamer). Carl doesn't appreciate my creative way of calculating net worth, so this dream may take a while to materialize.

6. Sweden, Norway, Finland and St. Petersburg
Its kind of cheating to lump all three Scandanavian countries together, but in my mind, they will be done in one trip. Preferably with a jaunt over to St. Petersburg, Russia. Carl's family hails from Sweden, which makes this extra inviting, and one reason why they rank so high on my list. I think this also gets combined with a visit to Santa Claus Village at the actual North Pole, at the Arctic Circle in Lapland, and I would love to get there while  my kids still believe in Santa. Don't think that will happen, though. But seriously - how cool is this place?

7. Lavender and Sunflower Fields in Provence, France
Alas, they only bloom in July and August, peak tourism months (translated from French as "peak cost months"), and this is not a trip I think the boys would find enjoyable. This is definitely one I should take with my mom.

8. Lake Tahoe, California
Not sure exactly how I've missed this in the dozens of California trips I've had over the years, but I've never been there. Its also considered an endangered travel spot due to global warming which is why I rank it so high.

9. Santa Fe, New Mexico
Because its so "close" to Texas, this was never a state I paid much attention to until a few years ago. But its just beautiful, and Santa Fe has the added bonus of a rich historical and cultural background. And the Georgia O'Keefe Museum is a must for me.

 10. Nova Scotia, Canada
They used to offer ferry rides from Bar Harbor, Maine (near my grandparents home) and yet no one ever took me (sniff). Next time we get up to the Islesford, I'm determined to spend an extra week driving around Nova Scotia, and visiting Price Edward Island and Anne of Green Gables, just like Kate and William did last summer  - just try and tell me she isn't as big a fan of the books as I am, and this dress wasn't intentional. If only they wold reinstate the ferry...

11. Yellowstone National Park
Kind of speaks for itself. Hopefully we'll get there soon since its high on the places to take my kids to.

 12. Destin beaches, Florida
Lately it seems as if everyone I know is going to Destin and its nearby beaches for summer trips. I've looked into it, and its pretty beautiful. I see why.

13. Lake Louise /  Banff National Park, Canada
Only problem with this spot is that I simply have to visit there twice, once in the winter and again in the summer. Stunning, both times of the year.

14. Machu Pichu, Peru
 Not much of Central and South America intrigues me (sorry) but I would love to be able to visit this little wonder.

15. Charleston, South Carolina and Savannah, Georgia
I know, two cities, two states. But its my list, and these cities are close together (from a Texan's viewpoint) and I'd see them on a trip together.

16. Giverny, France
Monet's gardens. My favorite painter, and despite three trips to Paris, I never went the 45 minutes outside of the city to see these. Some day.

17. Oregon
I'll admit it - my interest in this state was first piqued after seeing Twilight (they filmed much of it there). But once I started researching it, I fell in love and realized my long weekend trip plan wasn't long enough.

18. The Lake District, England
Its a bit off the beaten path, and its the place I haven't visited that I most want to relax in for a few days, and live like Beatrix Potter with Mrs. Tiddlemouth and Peter Rabbit as my imaginary friends.

19. York, England
This city almost made the cut for our upcoming trip - I eliminated it because it seems like such a great place for kids and I'll include it on our first trip with the kids - whenever that may be. We can even visit the Brontes' home nearby after riding on a vintage steam train, a win-win for all four of us.

20. Glacier National Park
Another national park I can't wait to visit. Its hard to believe these colors are real.

21. Yucatan, Mexico
I've never been to Mexico (if you don't count Laredo from the days when you could go to Laredo). And some day, I'll go soak up the sun with a margarita in my hands and make a sidetrip to the Pyramids.

22. Williamsburg, Virginia
For a history major who also appreciates tacky and cheezy reenactments, this looks like a win-win. Another place I'm just waiting for the kids to be a wee bit older before we go so they can fully appreciate it.

23. Outer Banks, the Carolinas.
John Kennedy Jr. married here. And it looks beautiful.

24. Spain
I've only been to Barcelona (which I loved) but there is so much more to see.

25. Guernsey, United Kingdom
I'm fascinated by this little island half way between England and France, and its history as the only part of the UK occupied by the Nazis (again, history geek coming through). And it features heavily in one of my all-time favorite books, The Guernsey Literary Potato Peel Pie Society.

26. Cayman Islands
Carl and I almost went here a few years back, and I've been regretting the decision not to go ever since.

27. St. Lucia
The other place in the Caribbean I most want to visit. We've been to St. John, St. Thomas and Puerto Rico, and I'll never forget the amazing discovery that there really is water so blue you can see your pedicure in knee deep water.

28. Santa Barbara, California
I've visited just about every other city in California but this one, despite my love for the old soap opera. Cruz Castillo... sigh.

29. Colorado
Some friends of ours vacation every summer in Estes Park, and now they have me wanting to do the same. And after the heat from last summer, I'm just about there.

30. Taj Mahal, India
I have very little desire to see much of India - I don't think I would feel at all comfortable being confronted with such abject poverty. But I had to write a 15 page paper about the Taj Mahal back in college and I've been fascinated with it ever since. Such a tribute to love, and I adore this picture of Diana, about to divorce Charles, mourning love lost.

31. Scotland
I've spent a week in Edinburg and Glasgow, but I was a poor student and unable to travel to any of the great castles, lakes or highlands. I'd love to spend another week or two just driving around and getting lost. And I wouldn't complain if Gerald Butler came along.

32. Germany
I've been there twice, having visited Munich, Berlin, Frankfurt, Rothenburg and Oberammergau. The Christmas that Carl and I spent there in 1999 will likely always be my favorite ever. But there are so many other places to see, and castles and river valleys to get lost in, that I can (and want to) easily spend another week here.

33. New Year's Eve in Vienna, Austria
It didn't happen for New Years 1999, but some day, Carl has promised we would fulfill my dream to spend New Years Eve in Vienna at the Imperial Hapsburg Ball, waltzing amid royalty, eating sacher tortes, and then going to the Vienna Philharmonics New Years Day concert the next day (its shown on PBS every year, and I've watched it for decades). I still have the New York Times article I've saved for almost 20 years describing this fantastic event, and it will happen. It will, Carl. Get your tux ready.

34. Greenland
Its melting. Quickly. So I've ranked it higher than I might otherwise. The cost to get there, alas, is not melting, and is rising faster than the temperatures on our planet as everyone else races to get there before its gone.

35. Galapagos Islands
I admit it. Master and Commander is to blame for this one, but ever since I saw that movie, and its gorgeous cinematography of the islands and its wildlife, I've been dying to make my own cruise.

36. Ireland
I've been to Dublin for a week, and spent a few days in Cork, primarily to go to Blarney Castle and kiss its' stone. But there is a lot more to see, and every time I see a travel movie like Leap Year (one of my favorite guilty pleasures) I realize there is still so much more to see. In my mind, I envision a 2-3 week summer trip with the family when the boys are in high school/college. Where they can "sneak out" (with my permission) for a night out on their own to meet the cute Irish lass for a drink in a pub and fall in love and then ten years later reunite for a wonderful wedding in Ireland, whose parents just happen to live in a fabulous castle I can visit every summer. And... I digress.

37. The Pyramids and Mount Sinai, Egypt
My father went to Egypt and Israel a few years before he died, and I loved his stories and pictures of the pyramids.  My favorite was his donkey ride up to the top of Mount Sinai so he could preach a sunrise service, and how the donkey was even less excited than he was about the trip up a steep hill in the dark not known for its safety railings. Sadly, its not (in my opinion) safe enough to travel there now, but hopefully, it will be someday.

38. Greek Islands Cruise
I have little desire to return to Athens which was extremely dirty and depressing, but I would love to spend more time on the islands. Lisa and I used our Inter-Rail passes for the passenger boat from Italy to Corfu, and then to Athens, and its one of my favorite memories (despite the ouzo and the loss of 1/2 our undeveloped film). And I loved Corfu, which is not even one of the great Greek islands. Santorini, Mykonos, Crete await. And a much nicer stay than I had at the Pink Palace.

39. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Primarily for the Christ the Redeemer Statute and a sojourn to Iguassu Falls and some rainforests. To be honest, I'm nervous about the safety of Rio. This might be one of the few trips I'd want to be on an organized tour, rather than doing it on my own.

40. Annecy, France
A beautiful little town in the Alps that is too far from Paris for a daytrip. I've been annoyed with myself for two years I didn't make more effort to see it when we were in Switzerland.

And one to grow on...

41. The rest of the US states.
If I haven't already listed them, I've already been there or don't have much desire to go there except so I could say that I've seen all fifty.

So there you have it. My List.I figure I've got a decent 40 years or so of good traveling left in me, so it seems manageable. Except that several of these are longer, more expensive trips. One can't spend three weeks in Australia one year and three weeks in Alaska the next. And then you also have to figure in other family trips for the kids, like beach trips and Disney, and returns to my favorite places, like Bath, and well, it makes it harder.


Its nice to dream.

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