A to Z Blog Challenge Recap

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I showcased 26 of my favorite places in the world. I didn’t do nearly as much writing for the challenge as I did in previous years, but I had a lot of fun going down memory lane, and I hope I’ve given some readers ideas about wonderful places to visit. I’ve been to 22 of the 196 countries but didn’t manage to feature them all in this year’s blog challenge because some countries have a lot of places that are special to me. And I was constrained by the alphabet!

Countries I’ve Been to that I Didn’t Mention At All

Spain – While there is no one standout in Spain that would make me go visit, if I had to choose a place I’ve visited to live permanently in, it would be Spain.

France – I’ve only been to Paris and hope to visit the countryside and coasts soon. Continue reading →

Ferries!

Ferry

Overnight ferry to Tasmania. This is the real deal. (2000)

Rio Dulce Hotel Perrico

The Hotel Perrico, Rio Dulce, Guatemala. You can only get there by a tiny ferry (otherwise known as a motorboat). (2004)

ometepe-ferry

On the way to Isla de Ometepe, Nicaragua (2008)

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Waiting for the Valentia Island ferry to take me and the car back to mainland Ireland (2014)

While You Are There: Your on-board experiences will vary widely, but whether you are living it up in a private cabin on a ship with plenty of booze and entertainment, or crammed in a cold and leaky vessel with a bunch of local fisherman, enjoy it! It’s not your everyday experience. It’s part of being wherever you are.

Why It’s On My List: Yesterday’s post was about the places you can stay and today’s post is about the ways you can get there. Ferry travel can take you places that are expensive to get to otherwise, or sometimes, that you can’t even get to at all. Some of my favorite ferry related experiences are

  • The Aran Islands in Ireland  where I rented a bicycle and rode around narrow roads lined by sheep pastures outlines with old, low stone fences and the ever-present cold, gray sea in the background. It was the quintessential image of Ireland.
  • Elephanta Island in India, which was the first place I visited in India, the day after I arrived in Mumbai and had a day to kill before my flight to Vadodara. It was overwhelming and magnificent.
  • Tortuguero National Park in Costa Rica where I witnessed a sea turtle nesting in the middle of the night under the stars.
  • Pelican Bar in Jamaica, which in itself was very cool, but my favorite part was riding over with a Honduran immigrant and learning about his life experiences and being very impressed with his English, but more, with how he had picked up the Jamaican patois in just six months
  • And last but not least, the ferry ride to Tasmania because I found a $100 bill lying on the carpet in the hallway!

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Darmstadt and Waldspirale, a Hundertwasser House (July, 2001)

Hundertvasser House

While You Are There: Unfortunately, you can’t go inside. You can only admire and be jealous from the outside. But southern Germany has so much to offer and travel is easy, so if you’re in Heidelberg, Mannheim, Marburg, Cologne, or Frankfurt, you really should hop over to Darmstadt for a day.

Why It’s On My List: Because it’s just so cool! Read all about its tree tenants, mismatched windows, and lack of straight lines here and here. Here are some pics of a few other attractions Darmstadt and its suburbs have to offer.

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For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Cuatro Ciénegas, Mexico (June, 2002)

Cuatrocienagas

While You Are There: Everything! Check out the Visit Mexico site for what to do in this appropriately categorized “magical” town. The protected area is the main attraction, but you could easily spend many days here and not get bored.

Why It’s On My List: I lived in Mexico for five months and was lucky enough to be able to travel extensively and see a lot of the country. I adored all of Mexico and am saddened by how dangerous it has become. There’s so much history and beauty and culture. The trip to Cuatro Ciénegas stands out because it was one of the few that almost all of us teachers went on together. I taught second grade at Colegio Ingles and there were about 20 of us foreign teachers altogether. This was near the end of the school year when everyone would be leaving Mexico soon, off to new adventures. Cuatro Ciénegas was only a few hours away, so one weekend we rented three serial killer vans and all drove out there. I remember racing through the desert in the those vans like something out of a movie. We rented some cabins and spent a nice weekend hanging out with each other, reminiscing about the fun we had throughout the school year, and enjoying everything the town had to offer.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Bessastaðir, the Icelandic Presidential Residence (March, 2013)

Iceland10

While You Are There: Well, you didn’t come to Iceland just to see the presidential palace, did you? Here’s all the awesome stuff we crammed into a five day trip. Blue Lagoon, Northern Lights & seafood dinner tour, the penis museum, Seljalandsfoss, SkógafossReynisdrangar, Gullfoss, Geysir geothermal field, Sólheimajökull glacier, Reynisfjara, Viking horses, elves, great food, and too many people trying to teach us to say Eyjafjallajökull.

Why It’s On My List: Two reasons (1) The novelty factor. How wild is it that you can take a tourist bus right up to the president’s house? There are no gates, walls, security. Our tour guide kindly requested that we not go up the driveway to the house out of respect for his privacy, but that’s all. (2) Because I didn’t have room for anything else from Iceland on this list but the whole country is a wonderful, magical novelty. Go now! From Denver (and I’m assuming a lot of other cities) you can have a free layover in Iceland if you fly Iceland Air, so no excuses! Also, their flight attendants are the most fun. Sorry, Southwest.

iceland3

The delightful flight attendant who kept us well supplied with booze on the red-eye and my awesome friend Krissi who didn’t cancel our travel plans despite a horrific knee injury.

 

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.

Amritsar and the Golden Temple (November, 2000)

Akal Takhat

While You Are There: Sleep on a mat on the floor with the pilgrims, eat in the communal kitchen, make a karah parshad offering in the temple, close your eyes and listen to the the singing, walk around the pool, people watch, strike up a conversation with a student from the Miri Piri Academy, relax, make a donation or volunteer.

Why It’s On My List: The overwhelming serenity and generosity of the place. While it’s just as crowded as the rest of India, within the temple walls you are left to just be and experience. It doesn’t matter who you are, what you look like, or where you come from. There is a peace there that is nearly impossible to find elsewhere in such a crowded and terribly impoverished country. It was also very humbling to be a westerner (meaning wealthy by comparison to most people around me) and have the Sikh community open its arms and provide lodging and food without question or agenda. I’m not a spiritual person or one to meditate in any way, but I spent many hours in the temple and by the pool just listening to the chants and observing the beautiful community that existed within those walls.

For this year’s A-Z Blog Challenge, I’ve decided to showcase 26 of my favorite places in the world. I’ve only been to 22 of the 196 countries, so I’ve got some more travelling to do, but these places are well worth a visit.  

Zulu

I spent 6 years living overseas. I lived for extended periods of time in 8 countries and visited 12 more. That impresses some people. At one time, it impressed me. But that was 10 years ago and there are 176 countries I’ve never set foot in. 176. And Antarctica. I’ve already been alive 37 years so it doesn’t seem to me like my countries-visited to traveling-years-passed ratio is very good.

Eastern Europe and Central Asia are very high on my list. The first is likely to happen soon but the second is not. Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan are not very easy to get to, and when I go, I’d like to go for a long time. Well, I’d either like to go for a long time, or I’d like to race through them on the Peking to Paris Motor Challenge. Either way. Continue reading →