With Heather starting this business, I have been thinking a lot about travel. Where I’ve been and, of course, where I’d like to visit. As that famous quote goes, "Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you’ve traveled.”
I thought I would write out the dream destinations that have meaning for me and which I hope to visit before I shuffle off this mortal coil. Such lists, of course, are inherently personal to the author. However, I hope this list inspires your own thoughts and dreams.
My list does not include any destinations that I have already visited. So, for instance, I would love to return to Paris, or the Hawaiian Islands, or London, but they aren’t included.
Without further ado, here’s my top 15 dream destinations in reverse order.
I am cheating a little bit with this one because we are visiting Alaska this summer. But, I have Alaska on my mind. I hope to see a bald eagle. I am sure the country will be beautiful. I hear this destination keeps bringing people back again and again after their initial visit. We are not visiting Mount Denali on this trip, so we already have an excuse to return!
14. The Bahamas.
I prefer cold weather to hot, and I don’t tan . . . I just burn. Have you seen my bald head? That being said, the Bahamas are . . . well . . . the Bahamas. I envision The Beach Boys (think “Kokomo”), lots of rum, fabulous beaches and, naturally, bikinis. Maybe it’s because of the bikinis but this is on my list. In any event, I picture myself snorkeling and relaxing and slowing down.
13. A cruise on the Mississippi River.
Start in New Orleans (which I have visited) and finish in St. Paul, Minnesota. We'd go on a classic paddleboat! How awesome is that?
This river is the literal vein running through the heart of America. As such, it ranks high for cultural and historical impact. This river is, after all, extremely important to the economic and social development of this great country. I want to see the landscape change with each passing day, and hear the subtle varieties of American dialects. What a great way to see our beautiful country.
12. Amsterdam, Netherlands.
This city seems gorgeous and full of history. I want to visit the Van Gogh museum and the Anne Frank house. The canals running through this city would make for excellent photo opportunities. And, I hear that the beer and cheeses there are excellent. Good thing that I like both.
11. The Grand Canyon.
No, I have not yet seen the Grand Canyon. I want to see the giant hole for myself and do that “walk over the rim on the glass walkway” thing that looks scary. Okay, I probably won’t do that. But I’ll come close to doing it before chickening out. Does that count?
I think this is a trip that you appreciate more as an adult than as a kid. You can understand better the shear magnitude of it all. So, it's probably a good thing that I didn't see it in my youth. We might book an Amtrak vacation for this one. They offer nice travel and hotel options. A rail vacation! I’ll be sure to report when we go.
10. Tokyo, Japan.
Japan seems . . . elegant. I like sushi, but I am a little worried about the food culture there. My brother-in-law (Clay) just returned from Japan and he said the sashimi everyday was too much. He said it was not easy to find cooked proteins. Still, I am willing to make a go of it.
I want to feel overwhelmed by the size and energy in Tokyo. I think it will be extreme culture shock. Is it possible to see live sumo wrestling? Probably. Sign me up!
9. Venice, Italy.
This city always looks amazing in films and photos. It seems like fantastic picture opportunities would be everywhere. I would want to be up very early to catch the sunrises and then try to capture the perfect shot of sunlight breaking over a canal's water. Besides that, a gondola ride is a must. And visiting Saint Mark's Basilica.
8. A river cruise on the Danube.
It's a HUGE river. You can go from Germany, through Austria and Hungary, and end up in Romania at the Black Sea. I am sorry, but that is pretty cool. And the blue Danube has a waltz named after it. Is the river really blue? I doubt it, but I want to see for myself. What a great way to see multiple countries during the same trip.
7. New York, New York.
Yes, I am deprived. I have never seen the Big Apple. Times Square, Lady Liberty, and Broadway all come to mind. I would love to catch the Yankees play baseball.
6. Niagara Falls.
This seems like a very touristy cliché but it also seems magnificent. I have been to some of the wonderful waterfalls in Yosemite, but this (obviously) will blow them all away. I think the sound of the falls alone will be impressive. And, no, I have zero interest in going over the falls.
5. Boston, Massachusetts and Portsmouth, England.
This would be a combined trip. And, yes, I am technically cheating by combining two unrelated destinations in one vacation. However, there is a connection.
I have never been to Beantown. I want to visit the revolutionary war sights, learn more about Benjamin Franklin, and catch a baseball game to see the Green Monster. I hear the chowder is good. However, the real purpose of my trip is to visit the U.S.S. Constitution! It's an old wooden warship. She's beautiful. But I have only seen pictures and movies.
I love sailboats. They are graceful machines. I want to tour Old Ironsides (her nickname) and see her lines first-hand. I'd think about the countless men who served upon her many years ago, and what she still represents about the history of our country.
I would then travel to Portsmouth.
HMS Victory! This is where the oldest naval ship in the world (still in commission) rests at anchor. Victory was launched in 1765 (let that sink in for a second) and she was the flag ship in the battle of Trafalgar She is a work of art and an amazing feat of engineering. It's my long dream to visit both our magnificent wooden naval frigate (the U.S.S. Constitution in Boston) and England's most famous fighting vessel within the same week. I want to smell the English oak and experience that actual history.
4. Rome, Italy.
This one is easy. Lots of history. Lots of art. Lots of museums. Lots of pasta.
3. Normandy, France.
I have been to France, but I didn't get to Normandy. I am very interested in seeing the D-Day memorial. I heard from a colleague who was recently there. It brought her to tears. I will understand the overwhelming and unspeakable sacrifices that so many soldiers gave. Seeing it first hand will be emotional. I imagine it will be like my visit to Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. History will come alive and I will feel more connected with the past.
2. Berlin, Germany.
Berlin has seen such profound history and change. I want to visit museum island, which houses wonderful art and history museums. I also want to see the Brandenburg Gate, Checkpoint Charlie, and the Holocaust Memorial. Of course, we will spend time in Mauerpark (the Wall park) and try to imagine what life was like in the East under communist rule. We will eat currywurst. I want to order beer and pretzels in a beer garden and just relax.
I have a few language friends in Germany. Visiting this city and country has been a dream for many decades. Now that our daughter is a little older, we are planning on going next year. I can't wait!
And, for the final destination, I really went out of this world . . . .
1. Space (i.e. Earth orbit).
I am cheating here a little. Okay, maybe a lot. Is this really a travel destination? Given the strides that certain private companies are making with space travel, this is a real possibility in the near future. Of course, I doubt I could afford it. Plus I hate roller coasters, getting motion sickness and heights. Other than those minor setbacks, this seems like a true dream trip. I would love to see for myself our beautiful fragile planet hanging in the heavens and marvel at it all. (Assuming I am not motion sick and moaning in a fetal position.)
So, these are my top destinations.
This list was actually not easy to make. There are so many wonderful places to visit. I left out South America (Machu Picchu), Russia, and about a gazillion other possible destinations. It was also very hard to rank my list.
It's important to keep dreaming and going to new places. Don't tell me how educated you are, tell me how much you’ve traveled. What destinations are on your list?