Monday, January 31, 2011

Traveling

I love traveling, be it for a couple of weeks, a few days or just a weekend. It is my dream to visit as much of our world as possible before I kick the bucket, and any opportunity to visit a different town, city and country is eagerly seized without hesitation. Although I’m hardly what someone would call a globetrotter, I have managed to visit a few places, some within driving distance, some by plane, some more exotic than others, some just simple getaways. I’ve ventured to a little over half a dozen cities in the United States, a couple of European countries, four ‘blessed-with-abundant-beaches-and-sunshine’ tropical regions (three in the Caribbean) and almost a dozen different towns and cities in Canada. My travel itinerary to date is nothing to brag about, but it’s not too shabby, either.

Most of the places I’ve had the opportunity to journey to have left quite an impression on me, mostly positive. But then how could they not since the trips taken are vacation-oriented, where daily routines and responsibilities are replaced by spontaneous fun and ample relaxation. But aside from that obvious fact, for some it’s also been that ‘extra something’ that makes them a tad more memorable.

My two kids walking along the beach in Maine.
For example, I discovered that Maine has an amazing bookstore for avid readers like me and oodles of places to eat lobster – two things that register high on my ‘favourites’ list. New York City was the first place I’d ever been to where a restaurant employee warned me about hanging my purse on my chair – something I always do back home but (apparently) something that no one in their right mind does there (unless you want your purse to disappear). The weekend spent in Ottawa, Ontario was one of the most fun-filled I’ve ever spent with my husband as we toured the museums and local restaurants. And the one in Ste. Agathe, Quebec was one of the most romantic since it was our first one we spent together – before we got married. Ahem.

Moving along...

In Dominican Republic I was served shrimp the size of lobster by night, and lifted up into the air by giant tidal waves that tossed me several feet across the shore by day. It was an exhilarating and daunting experience, to say the least. Jamaica, on the other hand, didn’t serve mammoth-sized shrimp or offer tidal wave joy rides, but it was plagued by drug abuse and corruption. The entire island reeked of marijuana, and children as young as 7 or 8 were trying to sell us drugs. Sad.

Greece
Mexico was the first all-inclusive trip I’d ever taken, which I learned from day one was the only way to go. For a whole week, all I needed to carry around with me was my room key (and my husband). Greece, a country so rich in history, left me in awe with its ancient sites, stunning sunsets, heavenly beaches, clear blue skies, energetic night life, hillside villages, blue-domed churches, abundant olive groves, wealth of monuments - and on and on. And even though I only spent one day in London, England (stopover before heading to Greece), it was long enough to see a few of its famous landmarks, such as Buckingham Palace, and to get a general feel for the city.

Niagara Falls, Ontario
When I visited Niagara Falls in Ontario, a place I’d often wondered what all the fuss was about, I expected a glorified waterfall that I would roll my eyes at. Instead, I was humbled and astonished by one of the most remarkable forces I’d ever laid my eyes on. After only a glance, I understood why this exceptionally powerful water torrent is considered a natural wonder of the world. It truly is extraordinary. Dominican Republic was where I played blackjack for the first time (after only a few minutes of coaching outside of the casino) – and won enough rounds (and cash) to pay for the entire week’s meals. Cuba had the most breathtaking white-sand beaches that you can sink your feet right into, not to mention the cleanest, bluest, warmest, oh-my-god-you-can-see-right-to-the-bottom beaches I’ve ever dipped a toe in.

White sand beach in Cuba

Ducks swimming nearby in Plattsburgh, NY while hubby proposed.
It was in Boston, Massachusetts where I saw the overwhelmingly-popular sci-fi film, Star Wars, the year it was released, in Cape Cod where I learned how to swim (albeit a little), in Iowa where I experienced my first (and only) 4th of July celebration (fireworks included), in Toronto, Ontario where I (queasy of heights) stood on the top floor of the world’s tallest free standing structure (553.33m / 1,815 ft., 5 inches), in Ausable Chasm, New York where I spent my first weekend away from home as a young adult (first trip with no parents!) and in Plattsburgh, New York where my husband (then boyfriend) bought an engagement ring and proposed beside Lake Champlain a few hours later as two ducks (a couple) swam nearby.

Hershey, Pennsylvania
An Amish home.
In the summer of 2008, we stuffed our faces with chocolate in Hershey, Pennsylvania as we toured Hershey’s Chocolate World, and learned about a culture very different from our own in Lancaster as a guide escorted us through the rooms of an Amish home open to tourists and explained their simple way of life. After Pennsylvania, we visited Washington, D.C., one of the most incredible places I’ve ever been to, bursting with exciting attractions and memorable places to visit (museums, galleries, monuments, memorials, parks – most of them free!), and an assortment of shops and restaurants. And after we exhausted ourselves with all that sightseeing, we were in serious need of some relaxation, so we headed a little further south and plunked ourselves down in front of the Atlantic Ocean in Virginia, Beach, an a-ma-zing-ly magnificent – and popular - vacation spot with miles of beaches and hundreds of hotels, motels and restaurants along its oceanfront. Oh, what a place.

Washington, D.C
Virginia Beach
That was the last vacation we took. In April of 2009, we bought our home and traveling to far-off destinations was put on the backburner as expenses increased. For the past two summers, we’ve only ventured to towns or cities that are close enough for us to be able to return home at the end of the day. But that’s okay. I am grateful for all the places I’ve been able to visit up until now, and perhaps one day, I’ll have the opportunity to see a little more of the world, once again.

Do you like to travel? Where have you been? And if you’re not Canadian, have you ever traveled to Canada?

Sunrise in Virginia Beach

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