We have been travelling together since we were first married more than 45 years ago. My husband and I love to see new places and learn about different cultures and their history. We love to experience firsthand the remarkable variation in natural settings, the marvelous diversity of birds and animals, and the extreme contrasts in climate. In To travel or not to travel, I identified our top 5 trips of all time. We found those top 5 easy to agree on. The next 3 we also agreed on, all three of which were from our early days, as reported in 3 favourite trips: remembering the travelling, reflecting on change. We’ve had a lot more difficulty rounding out our top 15, but I think we’ve now more or less agreed.
One of my husband’s top 10 trips doesn’t get included on our list because I wasn’t part of that trip. (He’s allowed to make his own separate list). About 10 years ago, he spent two weeks hiking along the Camino de Santiago de Compostela in Spain in the company of our two sons and one daughter-in-law-to-be, carrying all their belongings on their backs, sleeping in refugios, and by all accounts having a trip to remember, in spades. I stayed home and went to work everyday instead! If one of these pilgrims would like to write a guest blog about their adventures, I’d be pleased to post it.
In rounding out our top 15 list, we found that our criteria were pretty well the same as with the original 5:
- places that have something very, very special to share, e.g., geography, nature, history, animals, and/or culture;
- trips that simply cannot be replicated for providing a sense of awe during the experience;
- trips that are shared with family or friends, providing extra significance; and,
- trips that, all in all, have a magical quality.
- I should probably add that good weather doesn’t hurt!
Our top 15 look like this:
6. South Africa
7. Russia in the Soviet days
9. Italy. This was a wonderful tour way back in 1984, in which we touched on places we’d been before, but also were treated to gems that were new to us, like Monte Cassino, Pompeii, Verona, and Lake Lugano. And it was our first time in Florence. Rome was magnificent, Venice was a miracle, and everywhere we went had something to offer.
10-15. We just couldn’t rank these last six; they’re all #10.
10a. China. In 2006 we convinced some good friends to join us on a tour of China. Fascinating. It would be hard to choose one favourite experience, aside from visiting with two of my former students, one in Beijing and one in Shanghai. However, our time on the Li River and on the Yangtze River were probably my favourites. Of course, Xi’an and the Terracotta warriors were amazing. And the Forbidden City. And the Great Wall. Now that I think of it, pretty well everything was amazing. I’ll share more details in a future post.
10b. Santiago-Rio de Janeiro cruise, which included the Falkland Islands. In 2011 we tested the waters of “cruising”, along with my brother and sister-in-law, our friends with whom we’d gone to China, and 2600 others. The itinerary provided many highlights, including sailing through the Chilean fiords and around the Cape of Good Hope, visiting Ushuaia and Teirra del Fuego, the Falklands and its penguins, Buenes Aires, and Montevideo, and capping it off with Rio. Phew. So much to take in. I’ll share more details in a future post.
10c. A family road trip way back in 1978, going from Saskatchewan to Victoria and back, going through Montana, Idaho, and Washington on the way west, and B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan on the return leg of the loop. We covered lots of territory, with a combination of camping, hotelling, and visiting with friends and family. The attractions that western Canada and the northwest U.S. have to offer are endless.
10d. Scotland and northern England. In May 1991 we went to York so I could meet the professor who was to become my graduate supervisor. This apprehensive start marked the beginning of 4 years of spending concentrated amounts of time in York, one of England’s many gems. After our few days in York, we spent two wonderful weeks travelling around northern England and Scotland, including time in the Lake District, the Isle of Skye, and a very wet walk on Hadrian’s Wall.
10e. A post-conference trip through Germany, Switzerland, and France. This was a lovely trip my husband “designed” for us in 2000 when we met up in Frankfurt at the conclusion of a workshop I’d been attending. We started with a stop in Rothenberg, which is a preserved jewel I hadn’t known about, then drove down the Romantic Road, stopping to tour “Cinderella’s Castle”, otherwise known as Neuschwanstein. We made our way leisurely across a very scenic Switzerland to France, heading first to St. Etienne to meet with university personnel there who assisted our UNB exchange students and then to Saint-Rémy-de-Provence to stay with friends. Visits to hilltop towns, Nîmes, Avignon, Nice, and Monaco rounded out our trip before flying home from Marseilles. What contrasts. Wonderful trip.
10f. A family road trip from San Diego to San Francisco. In 1981 the rest of the family tagged along with my husband when he had a conference in San Francisco. We started by flying to San Diego and renting a car. Needless to say, one of the first things we did was go to the renowned San Diego Zoo. And, along with all the known tourist destinations in L.A., plus visiting friends there, the magnificent California countryside and coastal drives between L.A. and San Francisco really wowed us. We spent a few special days camping in Yosemite with friends and their family before ending up in San Francisco, where highlights included our trips to Alcatraz and to the Muir Woods to see the redwoods. All in all, a truly memorable trip.
This list, of course, leaves out lots of runners-up, including Yellowstone, Baja (one of my favourites, but didn’t get two votes), lots of wonderful national parks, especially in the U.S. southwest, our years in England, all those great Florida and Caribbean Spring Break weeks with our kids – and without, and on it goes. If you’re not a traveler, I understand. Some people don’t like to fly, and others just don’t like to leave home. And I know it’s not cheap. If you fall in one of these categories, TV offers the option of some excellent travel and nature shows. You can become an armchair traveler; who knows, you might just get the travel bug!
Photo credits: Howard Fritz, Jane Fritz, wikipedia.en