Travel Goals – five destinations on my list

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October is just around the corner and the days are drawing in. My summer vacations — spent in Spain and Scotland — are now just memories and photographs. I’m thinking ahead to places where I’d like to go next year: five very different destinations. Which places — cities, countries, regions — are on your must-visit travel list?

Sitges, Spain

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Sitges is a small town around half an hour down the coast from Barcelona in Spain’s Cataluña region — a great place as a vacation base for day trips to enjoy the big-city vibe of Barcelona as well as exploring the pretty fishing villages along the coast.

Despite being part of Spain, Cataluña has a strong sense of identity and many people there want the region to become separate. Most people are bilingual speakers of Catalan and Castilian Spanish — Catalan isn’t a dialect of Spanish, as some people think. It evolved out of the Latin spoken by the Romans who settled in the area.

I’ve seen friends’ photos of Sitges, and the town appeals to me through its Mediterranean beaches flanked by palm tree-lined promenades with white stucco buildings and grand mansions. With its Roman ruins, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitges is reputed to have a laid-back atmosphere; while it is a holiday resort, you’re more likely to find Catalan daytrippers and Spaniards on vacation here.

New England, USA

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~ Camden, Maine, looking out toward Penobscot Bay and the Atlantic Ocean. Photo credit: Paul VanDerWerf – Flickr Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic ~

New England has been on my travel goals list for the past few years. I haven’t made it there yet, but it’s still on my list. My view of New England may be somewhat rose-tinted, ignoring the harsh winters, rural isolation and high poverty rates.

However, for a vacation I envisage strolling around picturesque towns, staying in quaint white-painted clapboard houses, and roadtripping through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. And, of course, a trip to New England wouldn’t be complete without a visit to L.L. Bean!

Chania, Crete 21462324643_6d49de9a96_z-1

~ A typical Greek street in Chania, Crete. Photo credit: Ira Gelb – Flickr Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic ~

From my visits to various places in Greece, including time spent on the island of Lesvos, I have memories of sitting out at sea-front tavernas eating wonderful food and enjoying the culture, warm climate and music.

Crete is Greece’s largest island and although it has tourist spots aplenty (complete with drunken bachelor parties and nightlife), you can also find many places away from the tourist trail. When I go on vacation, I prefer to experience places like a local, as much as possible.

Chania Town isn’t far off the beaten path, but if you go out of season, as The Guardian‘s Kevin Rushy recommends in his Great European city breaks you’ve probably never thought of, the town is mostly home to locals and students.

Andalucía, Spain

Yes, another Spanish destination. The region of Andalucía is huge, covering most of the south of Spain, and you certainly can’t see everything in only one visit. From the wind-swept beaches of Cadiz and Huelva in the west, to the Moorish architecture of Granada, Sevilla and Córdoba, and the dry desert of Almería in the east, there is plenty of choice — steering clear of the touristy high-rise blocks on the coast near Málaga.

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~ View of the Roman bridge in Córdoba. Photo credit: neiljs – Flickr Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic ~

I’ve been to the north of Spain (Pamplona, Navarra) and the middle(Madrid, Toledo), but getting to Andalucía to experience classical Spain — flamenco, Spanish guitar, beautiful architecture and vibrant fiestas — is something I’d like to do in the near future.

Piedmont, Italy

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~ View of the wine region in Piedmont near Barolo. Photo credit: Megan Mallen. Wikimedia: Creative Commons License Attribution 2.0 Generic ~

I’ve heard the Piedmont region in the north of Italy described as having an almost French atmosphere, thanks to its elegance, sophisticated cuisine, proximity to the French border and its history — in the seventeenth century, it was occupied by the French. The area is home to the Slow Food movement and hosts food festivals throughout the year, each one varying by the produce of the season.

Piedmont is famed for its chestnuts and chocolate. Hazelnut chocolate — two flavours that go so well together — was invented here and is still made in the traditional way. As well as chestnuts, hazelnuts and chocolate, Piedmont produces fine wines and cheeses. Yummy!

Where in the world do you want to go? Share your travel goals in the comments.

 

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16 thoughts on “Travel Goals – five destinations on my list

  1. Great minds think alike!

    I’ve been to Sitges, New England and Andalucia — and all were terrific. New England is really well worth it; if I had to choose one bit, I’d unhesitatingly focus on Maine (and maybe Vermont.) NH is not as interesting and Mass. and Rhode Island not as dramatic. I do love RI (tiny, gorgeous) but Maine is spectacular.

    I want to go…everywhere! 🙂

    My top five…tough call?

    1) Morocco 2) Croatia 3) Greece 4) Japan 5) somewhere Caribbean — maybe St Kitts/Nevis. Realistically, though, unless our finances improve a lot, and soon, none of these are going to be possible. Very very frustrating. I can give up a lot of other pleasures, but travel is one of my dearest joys. The only trips that might happen in the next 6 months would be a driving trip (probably back to Quebec or maybe New England) and, I hope, back to London/Paris, likely alone.

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    • I don’t know how I missed this comment, but I found it when writing a travel post this morning about my childhood memories of Greece.

      Thanks for your recommendations on New England. Everything I’ve heard about Maine sounds wonderful. I just need to save up more money for my big US trip, but I’m excited about the possibility of cheaper transatlantic flights. Norwegian Airlines is planning flights from the UK to New York for less than £60. There are some catches though — apparently they fly to a ‘secondary’ New York airport, not JFK, which keeps the price lower.

      You’ve got a great wishlist of destinations! I’ve never been to Croatia, but I’ve heard it’s beautiful. And Greece has a special place in my heart.

      Where do you stay when you travel? Have you ever tried Airbnb to save money?

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      • The secondary airport, I’m guessing (?) is Newark, NJ — which is not a big deal. You just hop an airport bus into NYC from there and it’s still an hr’s drive, as it would be in from JFK.

        I stay with friends when possible or we have rented apartments in Paris on our last three visits. I have not tried Air B & B. I have mixed feelings about it. In some ways, I’d rather go way low (hostel) and way high (a good hotel) and even out my costs that way. I’ve decided this trip — June, to Europe — is going to be a splurge of some of my savings. I only traveled twice in 2016, both for 3 days each in Toronto and DC…both very familiar — so not the adventure and novelty I really want most from a true, long vacation.

        Where were you in Greece! Dying to go, but not for less than 3-4 weeks to explore it.

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        • Well, I’ll wait and see if these new cheap flights become a reality. And then I may hop across the Atlantic. 🙂

          I’ve never tried Airbnb either — not sure whether I’d want to, though quite a few people I know have had good experiences.

          Ooh, how exciting that you’re planning a European trip! Have you planned an itinerary of countries yet?

          I’ve been to Crete and the Peloponnese, but I was too young then to really remember it. My longest stay in Greece was on the island of Lesvos, when I was ten. I remember that vividly — it was great! Here’s a link to my post about it: Memories of a Greek childhood.

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  2. Timely post, we just got back from a weekend away and are planning a trip to Spain next month. We made it a goal to travel more this year but our big trip for the first quarter got disrupted by terrorism…but we made it to New York City. Apart from Spain, my top five (and we WILL get there, so help me!) is Iceland, Amsterdam, Morocco, Machu Pichu, and South Africa.

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    • Sorry to hear your first trip was interrupted. That’s stressful!

      Ooh, lucky you! I hope you enjoy Spain. 😃 Whereabouts are you going?

      I like the sound of your top five. A friend of mine went to Amsterdam recently. Her photos on Facebook looked gorgeous!

      Morocco is very close to the southern tip of Andalucía. It’s said that from Tarifa (a little fishing town where the Atlantic and Mediterranean meet), you can almost hear the call to prayer across the water from Morocco. That image, and the Moorish influences in Andalucía, have always enchanted me. Travel is a wonderful thing!

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      • We’re spending a week in Barcelona with friends, and really looking forward to it! We’ve never been to Spain, and if I could hop across to Morocco on this trip to hear the call to prayers in person, I would. Tarifa sounds a delight, and I want to put that saying to the test.

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        • Enjoy Barcelona! 🙂 I’ve never been there, but I’ve heard that a visit to Parc Güell is a must. And of course La Sagrada Familia. I look forward to hearing about your trip.

          I grew up listening to the band Radio Tarifa. Their mix of Spanish/Andalucian, Moorish and North African elements is unique and beautiful, and so evocative it makes me wish I was there! Their song Mañana is one of my favourites; here’s a link: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=FWoBr241TcI

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    • I always wanted to go to Austria when I was younger, inspired by my childhood favourite ‘The Chalet School’ book series. And of course, The Sound of Music. I loved reading your blog post about Austria.

      It would be fun to do a trip together! Maybe if you travel to Spain for your academic research sometime, we could meet up. Let me know if you ever visit the UK! 🙂

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  3. Anywhere in Greece and Italy (other than Florence and Siena, which I visited during my year studying in London) would be a top priority, though I wouldn’t say no to going back to the UK! I would also say Dubai, despite knowing how much of it is a wealthy, man-made tourist trap, mostly because I’d like to at least see it once. And then Egypt! I’m endlessly fascinated by Egyptian mythology and I think it would be super interesting to see how modern-day culture and ancient times have melded together there. Ah, so many places to go…..if only I had the time and money to explore!

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    • I’d love to meet you too! 🙂

      The Pacific Northwest sounds gorgeous! I’ve got a 2016 Audubon Society calendar and all the photos are of different natural parks and beautiful places in the States. One of them is of Oregon and it looks so beautiful!

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