As possible future trips are discovered and researched, their notes and links are recorded here for your perusal
December: Bavaria, Austria & Prague
For our second trip to Europe, I've always thought of visiting the Bavaria region of Southern Germany, Austria, and Prague during the Christmas season. Munich (Neuschwanstein Castle, Tollwood Winter Festival, Viktualienmarkt, Hofbrauhaus, Nymphenburg Palace, Residenz Museum, Christmas market), Salzburg (Getreidegasse, Hohensalzburg, Villa Trapp), Vienna (Reisenrad, St. Stephen's Cathedral, Spanish Riding School, a strudel show, Rathausplatz Christkindlmarkt, Botanischer Garten, National Library, Naschmarkt, Schonbrunn Palace, Hofburg Palace, Belvedere Palace, Wagenburg museum, Neue Burg museums, Vienna Boys Choir, Mozarthaus), and Prague (Prague Castle, Loreta, Karlstejn Castle, Old Town Square, Charles Bridge, Havelska Market, Klementinum Library, St. Vitus Cathedral, Petrin Hill, St. Nicholas Church, Lucerna Palace, Wenceslas Square, National Museum, Jindrisska Tower, Jubilee Synagogue, Vila Amerika) are all possible activities and destinations.
Preliminary lodging searches revealed the King's Hotel, Kasererbraeu, Grand Hotel and Hotel U Tri Pstrosu, and we'll utilize Eurail to get around. We hope to enjoy the Christmas markets, holiday choirs, a Krampus parade, and hopefully even a little snow!
February: Kauai, Hawaii
After a cold December in Europe, I thought I would treat my husband to a warm, tropical birthday celebration. Kauai, a place where I've been but he hasn't, seemed a perfect fit! We could attend the Luau Kalamaku, explore Secret Falls and Fern Grotto, hike the stunning Napali Coast, Waimea Canyon, Limahuli Gardens, and snorkel at Ke’e Beach, Haena Beach Park, Anini Beach, Prince Kuhio/Lawai Beach, Poipu Beach Park and Salt Pond Beach Park. Perhaps even a flight over the island as well!
May - June: Great Britain
The Scottish Highland Games are the main event, occurring from mid-May through the beginning of September. We could see, in London: the Houses of Parliament, Westminster Abbey, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, the British Museum, Buckingham Palace, Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens, St. Paul's Cathedral, the London Eye at sunset, an evening cruise down the Thames, Harrod's, the Harry Potter studio, the Prime Meridian (GMT), catch a play in Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and a musical at West End.
In South West England (Somerset County), we can take a historic steam engine to Dunster Castle, visit the Exmoor Owl & Hawk Centre and go on a red deer safari in Exmoor National Park. We'd stop by Stonehenge and Windsor Castle on the way. Stratford-upon-Avon looks like the perfect place to enjoy traditional thatched roof cottages like Anne Hathaway's Cottage. We could also visit Shakespeare's birthplace, Warwick Castle, the Baddesley Clinton Manor, Mary Arden's Farm and walk Henley Street in the old shopping district.
In the Lake District of England, we could stay in Keswick and enjoy a few good hikes like Loughrigg Fell, Aira Force waterfall and Castlerigg Stone Circle at sunset. We could also take a Derwentwater boat ride around the lake, or even go paragliding again! On the Shetland Islands of Scotland (utilizing NorthLink Ferries from Aberdeen to Lerwick, or Loganair from Edinburgh) we could see puffins at Sumburgh Head and purchase a hand knit item while we're there. And we could attend the Strathmore Highland Games in Glamis, were we could also take in the beauty of Glamis Castle.
Lodging may include the Sanctuary House Hotel in London, Marston Lodge in Minehead, The White Swan Hotel in Stratford-upon-Avon, Brierholme B&B in Keswick, Fort Charlotte Guest House in Lerwick, and Fraser Suites in Edinburgh to end our adventure.
September: Grand Teton & Yellowstone National Parks, WY
A good time of year with the dispersion of Summer crowds, but before services begin closing for the Winter in mid-October. We'd fly through Salt lake City, head up to Grand Teton, then explore Yellowstone. Preliminary lodging searches revealed Inn on the Hill, Colter Bay Village, and Tao's Inn or The Hibernation Station.
March - April: Japan
While Japan, from North to South, is about as varied in temperature and climate as the United States, the early Spring appears to be the best overall time to catch everything from monkeys bathing in hot springs to the cherry blossoms.
Possible base camp locations could include Tokyo (Kabukiza theatre, Suigian restaurant, the Akihabara, Senso ji temple, Ueno Park, Nezu-jinja shrine, Koishikawa Korakuen park, Shitamachi museum, Shinjuku Gyoen park, Meiji Jingu shrine, traditional tea ceremony, lodging at Hotel Coco Grand), with a possible day trip to Nikko (Shinkyo Bridge, Tosho gu shrine, Taiyuin byo shrine), Hakone (Hakone jinja shrine and torii, Odawara castle, Hakone ropeway and funicular, lodging at Senkei Annex Yamagaso), Kyoto (Kinkaku ji temple, Fushimi inari taisha shrine, Arashiyama bamboo grove & monkey park, Tofuku ji temple, Chion in temple & Yasaka shrine, Nijo castle, attend the Miyako Odori, Minamiza Theatre, Gion Corner theater, Kyo Odori at Miyagawacho Theatre, lodging at Gion Shinmonso) with day trips to Nara deer park & Todai ji temple, Himeji jo castle, Koya san & Oku no in cemetery, and end in Takayama (Jigokudani Monkey Park, lodging at Hoshokaku) for the Spring Matsuri Festival (April 14-15). We'll use Japan Rail Pass for transportation.
Barcelona (La Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, Casa Batllo, Palau Nacional), Madrid (Palacio Real, Plaza de la Villa, Parque del Buen Retiro, and the La Latina and Chueca neighborhoods), Toledo (the Cathedral, Iglesia de San Ildefonso, Iglesia se Santo Tome, Monasterio San Clemente), Granada (La Alhambra), and Seville (Alcazar, Cathedral, Parque de Maria Luisa, Santa Cruz neighborhood, Casa de la Memoria).
May - June: Russia
A good time to visit the vast country of Russia, with rivers thawing and flowers blooming. We could explore St. Petersburg (Resurrection Church, Peter & Paul Cathedral, Peterhof Palace, Faberge Museum, State Hermitage Museum, Catherine Palace, Mariinsky Theatre, Yusupov Palace, New Hollad Island, lodging at Petr Hotel), Moscow (Saint Basil's Cathedral, Bolshoi Theatre, Izmailovsky Market, Sanduny Baths, Park Zaryadye, Cafe Pushkin, Novodevichy Convent, VDNH Park, lodging at Hotel Kempinski), and the Golden Ring town of Suzdal (Savior Monastery of St. Euthymius, Kremlin, Nikolskaya wooden church, Museum of Wooden Architecture, river boat ride, lodging at Medvezhy Ugol B&B). We'll purchase rail tickets online.
Peru is also a place I've wanted to visit for a long time. The Amazon is the main draw. We could also visit Plaza de Armas, Museo Larco, the gardens of Barranco, and go parasailing in Lima as well (lodging with Airbnb).
Machu Picchu is also a definite must see, with lodging at Saya Wasi in Cusco and Terrazas del Inca in Aguas Calientes, and perhaps taking the Hiram Bingham train as a special treat! Hopefully we can catch a nightly dance performance at Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo. We could also visit the traditional textile center, Santuario Animal de Cochahuasi and the Mercado Central de San Pedro farmers market while in Cusco as well.
January - February: Southeast Asia (Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand)
This appears to be the driest, coolest time to visit Southeast Asia. The monsoon season, from May through October, is definitely not when we want to be there. Hopefully we can swing a stay at Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand.
February: Falkland Islands & Patagonia
It appears this is also a good month for visiting the Falkland Islands so my partner can see King Penguins! Since this is probably the closest we'll ever get to Patagonia, I think we could swing a side trip from Santiago to Punta Arenas by plane and explore Torres del Paine National Park as well.
The primary destination would be Laguna San Ignacio to see the gray whales up close! We could also go whale watching in Loreto as well. Additional base camps could include Mexico City (Museo Nacional de Antropologia, Teotihuacan, Plaza Garibaldi, Palacio de Bellas Artes, Chapultepec Castle), the pueblo magico town of Valle de Bravo (Piedra Herrada monarch butterfly sanctuary, Cascadas Velo de Novia, hanggliding or paragliding), and Merida (Parque Santa Lucia, Plaza Grande, XBatun cenote and Uxmal, Chichen-Itza, Celestun) on the Yucatan peninsula. We could explore ancient Mayan ruins, swim in ancient cenotes, and observe flamingos in Celestun.
The main draw here is the Aurora Borealis, which can been seen in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories. Yellowknife is perfectly situated underneath the aurora oval (the area with the most Northern Lights activity). This position makes the Yellowknife a perfect destination for viewing the Northern Lights in Canada. There's even an aurora forecast! We'll need to rent Winter clothing. We'll also be able to attend the Snowking Winter Festival, and may also try some dog sledding and other activities while we're there as well!
March, April, October or November: Morocco
In Morocco, Tangier (Grand Socco, Cap Spartel Lighthouse, Chefchaouen), Fez (Terrasse des Tanneurs, Bab Boujeloud, Kairaouine Mosque) and Marrakesh (Ben Youssef Medersa, Jemaa El Fna, Koutoubia Mosque, La Bahia Palace, Majorelle Gardens, Aït Ben Haddou). Train transportation provided by ONCF. Preliminary lodging has revealed Dar Chams Tanja, Dar El Bali or Dar Borj, and Andalla Riad & Spa or Palais Lamrani.
April: France, Belgium, the Netherlands
One bonus to visiting the Netherlands at this time of year? The tulips will be in bloom.
April, May or October: Greece & Lebanon
We've talked many years about traveling to Greece and Lebanon. I could show my partner Greece, where I lived for two years. Possible destinations include Athens (the Acropolis, Plaka, the National Archaeological Museum, Syntagma Square, the National Garden, Sounion), Meteora (Kalambaka), Loutraki, row an ancient Greek warship, and explore the islands of Mykonos and Santorini as well.
May: St. John, U. S. Virgin Islands
This could be a trip to explore U. S. Virgin Islands National Park on the island of St. John. The best time to visit is May, between the busy Winter season and hurricane season. We'd probably spend a little time on adjacent St. Thomas Island as well.
May: Sweden, Finland & Norway
Not surprisingly, May is also a good off-season time to visit Scandinavia, with temperatures rising and rainfall at yearly lows.
June - September: American Samoa National Park
Yep! We have a national park near Samoa! American Samoa National Park is in the Southern hemisphere, and offers great snorkeling, beach combing, and hiking activities. They also offer a homestay program, where you have the opportunity to join a local family. We'd hopefully be able to visit nearby Samoa and Fiji as well.
August: Denali National Park, Alaska
Another trip I've been planning for awhile. We could fly in to Fairbanks mid to late August and take a scenic train ride down to Denali. Once at Denali, we'd probably spend a few days exploring the trails around the park entrance, and also spend a couple of nights at Wonder Lake. Then onward by train to Anchorage, and a day or two at Kenai Fjords National Park, staying at Kenai Fjords Glacier Lodge, before returning home.
September - October: Lassen Volcanic & Redwood National Parks, CA
This time of year has the least rainfall or fog for the Northern California coast, making an ideal time to explore the giant redwoods again. Lassen Volcanic National Park would also have fewer Summer visitors, making it more peaceful.
September - October: Badlands, Mount Rushmore & Devils Tower
To be honest, Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore combined still didn't have quite enough to get me to commit. But being a huge sci-fi fan, add Devils Tower, Wyoming, from the film "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" and I'm there! Since the presidents face East, it appears that sunrise, with breakfast at Carvers Cafe, is a good time to view them. Rapid City, South Dakota, would be our base.
October: Great Smoky Mountains National Park
We've witnessed the beautiful Fall colors of Acadia National Park in Maine. My partner fell in love with them, in fact. In our continuing quest to visit most of our national park system, I thought Great Smoky Mountains would be another good place to witness the vivid colors of Autumn. We may even hop on another hot air balloon! Lodging will likely be in Gatlinburg, TN, at Buckhorn Inn.
October: Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria
We watched a couple of travel shows on these countries and kept remarking about how beautiful they were. The Autumn colors would only accentuate their natural beauty. Bran Castle and Peles Castle are already two places we absolutely must visit!
November (or February/March): Egypt
Egypt is a must visit with a stop in Cairo (Egyptian Museum, Pyramids of Giza, El Tanboura Hall, Festival of Arab Music), Luxor (Medinat Habu, Tombs of the Nobles, Luxor Temple, Karnak Temple, Valley of the Kings) and a day sail via felucca to the Dendarah/Hathor Temple, and hopefully some snorkeling in the Red Sea at Marsa Alam.
There are many other places we want to explore as well, such as South Africa, the Galapagos Islands, Madagascar, Iran, etc. I know we'll get there eventually. It's only a matter of time.