Top five places on my travel wishlist

I’ve been doing a lot of small, fun trips over the last few years but no big, audacious trips – like the ones you prepare for over months, research until you know more about the place than the locals do, learn some key phrases in a new language (or more!), go shopping for and obsess about what to bring… you know those trips? I mean I guess it’s all relative – for someone who’s never left their hometown, going to the nearest city could involve all of these things, and for someone who basically lives on a plane, they wouldn’t even do any of this for a 3-week African safari. Me? I’m somewhere in between.

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about grandiose vacations I’d like to go on – five places I would love to go to that would put me in that preparation frenzy. Thinking that it’s probably best to get this new obsession off my chest and on to your minds… here are my top five places on my travel wishlist, in reverse order.

5. Iceland

glymur waterfall in iceland, photo by Jabbi from Wikimedia Commons

(Glymur Waterfall; Photo attribution)

Not even having been there, I love Iceland – they are smart about their economy – an innovative culture, 100% female literacy and the first country in the world to make equal pay for women mandatory. I can’t believe that oh-so-progressive-first-world North America continues to fail in this. Besides treating women well, the Northern Lights and the geologically enticing landscape are the things making me want to visit Iceland. I want to hike all the lava fields and waterfalls, bathe in the hot springs and the nature baths and see the Northern lights. I might not be brave enough to swim the continental divide, but I would love to if I could muster up the courage. I know P would absolutely love that. There’s more yet – horseback riding, visiting the little Nordic villages, lobsters, whale watching. There is SO much to do there – I’d go for at least a week, ideally 2 weeks. I think September / October might be the best time to go to Iceland – it’s cool all year around (but not Arctic cold because of the Gulf Stream currents), but in these months you can see Northern Lights and there’s still light out for some part of the day. You can see the Auroras throughout the remaining winter months too but you’re then running into darkness most of the day, so hiking might be tough.

4. New Zealand

Dramatic landscapes that are remarkably easy to explore.

(Hooker Valley, Christchurch; Photo attribution )

Similar to Iceland, another country known for its female empowerment (they have a female prime minister, who is also the world’s youngest female head of a national government at 37 years of age!) and its glacial fields and volcanic landscape. Everyone who has travelled to New Zealand says the locals are the friendliest they’ve ever met. (I don’t know if they’ve been to Canada or Japan so not sure how they compare, but I’ll let you know what I think when I get there) That aside, I want to go see the land of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. Who doesn’t! You can fly all over the top of Middle Earth in a helicopter. Now that is an experience I would absolutely go all out for. I would also do the Hobbiton Movie Set Tours for sure too. Other than that, hikes and fishing would be such a fun, active yet relaxing way to spend a holiday in New Zealand.

3. Jordan

(The Lost City of Petra; Photo attribution)

The Lost City of Petra and Dead Sea. That’s really all anyone goes to Jordan for right? I’d throw in authentic shawarmas (middle-eastern food in general), local artisan shopping and tour of Amman, Jordan’s capital city with a ton of ancient ruins. I would also love to check out the Ma’in hot springs (but seeing as my list so far is heavy on the geologically rich countries anyway, it’s not a must do on my list). What’s so beautiful about Jordan is that it has been an epicenter of human civilization right from ancient times. I can’t imagine what it would feel like just standing there… where hundreds of thousands of humans have passed through the times… a gentle reminder that this world is so much bigger than me and that it is such a thing of a crazy miracle that I exist at all!

2. Society Islands of French Polynesia (specifically, Bora Bora)

(Bora Bora Island; Photo attribution: By Top1963 / Tryfon Topalidis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link )

For it’s aqua-centric resorts and unlimited coconut palms… that’s what I want to go to Bora Bora for. Coconuts are my absolute favorite fruit – the water and the meat. To me, a vacation in Bora Bora feels like the ultimate luxury vacation (not withstanding the fact that the flights alone would cost a fortune). Over-the-water bungalows, swimming with the sting rays, crystal clear blue waters, white sand and sunshine. I’d wake up, go for a swim, come back and have a coconut. Then I’d rent a motorboat and island hop or I’d bike around the island itself. I’d check out the World War II memorabilia – canons, museums, etc. but for the most part this would be the ideal luxury beach vacation.

1.  Greece.

(The Parthenon; Photo attribution)

I have been all over Europe, except for this one country which has forever been #1 on my places to visit list. Because it’s been #1 on my travel wishlist for so long, I used to imagine I would go with “the one” when I met him. Well I met him and he is a nervous traveler who doesn’t really like venturing out of North America too often. So Greece hasn’t happened for me. Greek cuisine is one of my absolute favorite, go-to cuisines. Its culture, its people who are very much desirable – meddlesome, well-meaning relatives, large families, big celebrations, the white & blue building structures and clear blue waters. Sure, these are some of my top reasons for visiting Greece, but its amazing ancient history is why I really want to go. I want to stand at The Parthenon… this structure that has seen everything since 5th century B.C. … Similarly, The Acropolis. You know, sometimes my little brain can’t even comprehend times like “5th century B.C.” – how is a time like that even real?? Who were the Greek Gods? Why did the ancient Greek civilization really end, if they invented Democracy and sewage? I want to go to Mykonos and Santorini and eat crepes all day. I want to sing and dance up and down those beautiful white steps, just like they did in Mama Mia and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants.

So those are the top five places on my travel wishlist.

Now my very important caveat here is that I want to go everywhere in the world, so this isn’t my whole bucket list. I also have different types of travel lists – experience travel lists, Christmas time travel lists, beach vacation lists, a U.S. cities list, a Canadian cities list, my food travel list, a shopping travel list, a wine travel list… oh so many travel lists. But this one here today is the all time top 5 destinations on my travel wishlist.

As I’m writing this, I’m having deep, philosophical thoughts. I ought to work less and travel more; but if I work less, I won’t be able to travel more… how to manage that dilemma. When will I see everything on my list, I wonder…