When I was in fourth grade, we drove across the country from California to Vermont. We stopped at several places along the way, like the Black Hills of South Dakota and Niagara Falls. We drove into Quebec and Ontario and visited a cabin my Dad's family had built decades ago on a remote lake. It was rustic, to say the least, and I loved it. We canoed, fished, and fed the chipmunks. We flew to Vermont several times throughout my lifetime to visit family there, but I still think that road trip was better than flying.
My senior year of high school, my graduation gift was to hike the Grand Canyon from the North Rim to the South Rim in one day. It was amazing.
When I was in college, I traveled to Europe for the first (and, so far, the only) time. We landed in Paris and stayed there for a few days before boarding the TGV and heading to Zurich, Switzerland. We stayed in Zurich for only one night and then boarded a normal, slower train for our trip into Salzburg, Austria. We had Rick Steve's "Europe Through The Back Door" as our guide and almost the entire trip was improvised, booking hotels only when we arrived in each city and living out of backpacks we carried the entire time. No tour groups and no suitcases to lug around. As I get older, I realize how adventurous my parents were. We listened to a string quartet in Salzburg that played in a marble hall with such smooth acoustics that you couldn't tell when one song ended and the next song began. The sound simply swirled throughout the room. From Salzburg's cobblestone streets we boarded another train for Vienna. Vienna was big, and busy. The United States declared war on Iraq as my brother and I sat in our hotel room, watching the bombing of Baghdad on our small TV screen. Protesters filled the town square outside of our window. We didn't venture out that night. We took a couchette train from Vienna back to Paris and then we flew home.
That next summer I went on my first cruise. I liked Cozumel the best.
We went to Disneyworld for our honeymoon. That was my first time to go to Florida. I can't say I love Florida, but I loved Disneyworld and Universal Studios Islands of Adventure. The Mummy ride scared me to death.
I went to the Bahamas last summer for the first time when I was 22 weeks pregnant. No matter how cute maternity swimsuits are, it is difficult to feel cute when you are shaped like a boat. My husband actually dug a hole in the sand for my stomach so I could lay on my tummy. Good grief.
Of all the places I have seen (and I feel like I haven't seen that many--the world is so BIG!), the Grand Canyon is still my favorite. Funny, huh. What I love about the Grand Canyon is the fact that it holds such breathtaking beauty in such an unexpected place. Deserts are dry and barren. But canyons in the desert are stunning. Even in the dry places, beauty exists.
I like to travel. I like to see new places and experience different cultures. If I had my way, every vacation we would ever take would be educational, studying the history and the culture of every place we visit. If my husband had his way, every trip we took would be, well, a vacation. Relaxation at every turn! He typically wins.
So. I've shared a bit about my travels. What about you? This is my open-ended post for the week. Where is your favorite place in the world? Do you travel more for fun or for the educational aspect of it?