“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

The Next Big Trips I Want to Take

When I tell people I’m a travel consultant, the most frequent question I get is: “Where do you want to go next?”  I don’t know if you, my faithful readers, have any curiosity about that, but in case you do, let me tell you. Right now, I have three destinations on my horizon.

 

Thailand

I’ve made two trips to Japan and those trips really opened my heart to Asian destinations. Asia made me uncertain. The languages, the food, the “otherness” of those lands and peoples intimidated me. If it hadn’t been for the fact that my niece Justine, who was then a student of Japanese language and culture (and is now a professor at Bates College), was in Japan to travel with me, I don’t think I ever would have had the nerve to go there. But she was almost like a native guide and my fears evaporated in days of excitement and adventure. I found the people and places enchanting and the food that I worried would be weird was mostly delicious.

So now I want another Asian experience. And of all the many lands and peoples of that vast continent, it’s Thailand that’s calling to me.

Many friends have told me how beautiful, warm and welcoming Thailand is. So naturally, I have to see for myself and I’m already making tentative plans. I think we’ll base in Chiang Mai in the far northern part of the country. I’m anxious to see the old trader community of Wat Gatekaram, markets, temples and lots of unique “street life”. I want to ride a long-tail boat on the Mae Ping River and take a tuk-tuk ride to Waroros Market where the local people buy their fresh food and spices. And I think a trip to the Elephant Nature Foundation, a non-profit rescue and rehabilitation park that advocates and acts on behalf of rights of elephants in Thailand, is also on the agenda. And, of course, we have to visit the floating markets.

From Chiang Mai, we’ll probably fly to Kanchanaburi (a mere hour and a quarter flight) to see the Bridge over the River Kwai (which has been partially restored), the Hellfire Pass Museum, and the Kanchanaburi War Cemetery. Around 7,000 British, Australian, Dutch and native people who died building the Thai-Burma “Death Railway” are buried there.

From there, we’ll go to Bangkok, but I don’t know yet exactly what we’ll be seeing there. Still a lot of research to do but the trip is two years away.

 

Rhine River Cruise

To me, the Rhine River is the emblem of northern Europe. I experienced a bit of the lower Rhine when I did the Viking Tulips and Windmills cruise in 2013. Now I’m eager to cruise the upper Rhine through Switzerland, Germany, France, and the Netherlands next year.

The cruise begins in Basel and we’ll probably arrive a couple of days early, giving ample time to visit Altstadt (the old town), the Marktplatz, the Kunstmuseum, and other important sites in this beautiful Swiss city. I got just a tiny taste (about a half hour) of the Black Forest on a previous trip to Germany so I look forward to experiencing more of that area, especially seeing how cuckoo clocks are made and sampling black forest cake where it originated. And, of course, if you’ve followed me at all, you know how I love sampling each destination’s food and drink, so spending a day in Alsace, maybe going on a food tour and definitely trying the wines, is definitely on my list. So many things to do in this beautiful locale!

 

Australia

I’m going to the land down under!  When it comes to adventure in far away places, Australia has to rank near the top. Not only was it the last continent discovered by the Europeans, but it also is the territory of the marsupials, so different from the animals of other places.

Of course, Australia is also pretty damn huge –almost as big as the entire continental United States. Seeing it all in one trip is pretty much out of the question, especially when I want to see so many different features of this country that’s also a continent.

When I go later this year, I’m limiting my visit to parts of New South Wales. I’ll be able to spend several days in Sydney and also make a quick trip to Byron Bay for a couple of days. We’ll be seeing the iconic Sydney Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge, visiting the Crystal Castle near Byron Bay, four wheel driving in the Blue Mountains in search of kangaroos, koalas, and wallabies. Of interest to us too is the Sydney Fish Market, the largest fish market in the southern hemisphere. And, of course, we’ll be feasting on some of the Australian foods such as meat pies and Pavlova (a dessert that sounds yummy) but NO VEGEMITE! Oh, and tasting some Australian wines: Shiraz, Semillon, Verdelho, and Tempranillo. I can’t wait!

To find out how this trip turns out, check out my Travel Thoughts blog in the Fall.