My pursuit of all the countries of the world has had me defer some of the trips highest on my wish list.
- The WWII sites of Normandy. I have visited WWI sites around Europe and WWII sites around the world, even Iwo Jima. I still have not been to Normandy. As an aside, the Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey, are a little-known treat, a melange of British culture and French food, and the only UK territories occupied by the Germans.
- Hokkaido, the big, northern island of Japan. I have been to the three other main islands along with Okinawa. I would find it hard to decide between summer and winter. Japan is among my favorite countries.
- Kamchatka, in the Russian Far East, think Lord of the Rings/New Zealand on volcanic steroids. With the Ruble in the tank this extremely expensive destination is more within reach with the right group of adventurers.
- The Great Migration in Tanzania’s Serengeti National Park, along with crater lakes of the Northern Circuit and out to the riverine border with DR Congo for chimpanzee tracking at Gombe Stream National Park, the base of Jane Goodall. Zanzibar is a great post-safari add-on, as the resorts are on the desolate east of the island and the thinking traveler can enjoy Stone Town’s guest houses and Indo-African food. This is the last big Africa trip I want to take.
- The Red Crab Migration at Australia’s Christmas Island. Perth is a long flight from the US and Christmas Island is 5 hours from there. I have tried for several years to go and the schedule has never worked. The local tourism authority and Australia Parks forecast 3-4 time blocks each year that they may migrate, from Oct-Jan. They don’t know until 1-2 weeks out and most likely are around US Thanksgiving and Christmas when tickets out that way are hard to come by. I am allergic to crab so it may not be wise to go to an island enveloped by a tide of crabs.
- Southwest USA. I am ashamed to say I have only seen the Grand Canyon on flights out of Las Vegas, which I only visit for work. I have never been to Arizona, New Mexico, Utah, Montana or the great Redwood forests of California.
- Newfoundland, Canada. Whale watching in St John’s. French smuggling entrepot St. Pierre & Miquelon. The first Viking landing sites. National parks top to toe. The Canadian Dollar is way down to the US Dollar.
- Patagonia. Latin America and I have never gelled. Too many rice and beans countries and not enough Peru cuisine and fruits. Venezuela is my favorite and when the country recovers, I will race back. For now, Patagonia beckons and I would slip in a side trip to Chile’s Robinson Crusoe Island in the Juan Fernandez Archipelago, along with some hot dogs in Santiago.
- Socotra Island, Yemen. The ongoing devastation of Yemen is strangling the ‘Galapagos of the Indian Ocean.’ The island remains remote and peaceful. It is the Saudi-imposed no-fly zone that prevents even the former charter flights from Dubai.
- The Silk Road in China, the only repeat on this list. I lived in China for 8 years and have visited every province. My two favorite trips are Sichuan (Chengdu’s temple tea houses, pandas, Leshan Great Buddha, the monkeys and temples of Emeishan, the ancient hydraulic works of Dujiangyan) and the Silk Road stretch from Dunhuang to Turpan. Dunhuang’s painted grottoes are the most spectacular Buddhist site I have seen. Turpan in Xinjiang boasts magnificent Silk Road ruins and the incredible Uyghur food, a blend of flavors of Central Asia and China. This is not the dry kebabs with tomato and cucumber salad that cover much of the Silk Road and Middle East. These are richly spiced meat, vegetable (a rare thing!), wheat and rice dishes that I adore. Uzbekistan rules the plov/pilaf roost, otherwise this is the best vittles on the Silk Road.
Readers, what is on your travel wish list?