"Welcome!" where2next's Profile
Welcome to my travel pages. I hope that this site helps some how in making your travels more fun. As I have written travel tips, I'm also trying to reflect on travels and lessons learned, some of which I are categorized below. Given that trips vary in their nature (i.e. recreational vs. cultural), some of these might pertain to certain trips, though not be applicable to others.
These are guiding strategies as I plan trips to hopefully make the travel experience more rewarding. I noticed some interesting connections among them. When we travel we learn may new things, and some of these discoveries can turn into lifelong passions (or in the case of Belgium chocolate - addiction!). I arranged the below chapters in that order: 1) first learning about new places, customs, etc., traveling and trying new things, 2) following one's passions, and 3) coming full circle by keeping an open mind for new adventures.
The one common theme among all of these, whatever you are doing and wherever you travel - enjoy the moment! I wish you all the best!
The below contrast in two separate trips to Europe illustrates how the above phrase has applied to my recent travels. On my first trip to Europe in 1993, I visited museums, churches, and saw many of the recommended sites. It was a very good trip and I learned a lot, and my perspective was changed in a variety of ways.
On my second trip to Europe in 2001, I decided to change things around. Instead of recommended museums, I mixed things up and went to the mountains, the beach, and small towns (i.e. the Tatras, Alps, Nice, Eger, Bled, Piran, Cesky Krumlov, etc.) I did go to some museums - a Chocolate museum in Switzerland (Lindt) and one in Belgium, and to top it all off a beer tour in Plzen, Czech. Overall, perhaps I did not I learn too much from a cultural standpoint as on the first trip, however I had a ton of fun! I will say though that having seen the museums, et al., on the first trip, allowed me to skip these on the second. So take a break from the recommended sites and follow your passion!!!
I enjoy the outdoors and their associated activities. Whether it be skiing in Whistler, B.C., snowboarding in the Rockies, hiking in the Alps or Tatras, or kayaking in places like Bar Harbor, Maine or white water rafting in Jackson, Wyoming.
Here is my list of favorite U.S. National Parks.
Also here are links to additional National Park pages.
U.S. National Park Service
Canadian National Parks
Interestingly, for me music is also a passion; however rarely do I travel to see a show (aside from the Grateful Dead back in the late 80's). Albeit most tours come to Boston, though there are festivals in New Orleans, Chicago, and Salzburg.
In planning trips, it's common to look and see what attractions receive high marks (e.g. virtual tourist). Some countries, cities and attractions are of national and world fame that they receive high marks, and tons of folks go there. Many travel magazines or web sites will often publish "Top 10" lists such as for cities (often Australian and Italian cities head the list). Furthermore, most guide books will point out city highlights. Following "the path most taken" is a actually a good thing! Hey, a gazillion visitors to Paris (typically all standing in line outside the Louvre) can't be wrong?!? can they?
I have had both good and not so good experiences.
I will admit that I never would have stopped and visited Charleston, SC on my way to Florida had it not been for seeing it always listed in top ten lists. As it turns out, it was a relaxing, change of pace, town to visit and I really enjoyed my stay there. I could see why it gets all kinds of recognition. Here is my "top ten" list for my favorite Big Cities.
I suppose the more a top ten lists is geared towards each of our individual interests, then the list would be a good guide, such as:
Top Ten Ski Resorts
Trying local foods on a trip is a given. In addition to trying great food during one's travel, it's great that in the Internet age one can order favorite foods more easily whether it be a Sacher Torte or Vienna Pastries; however I still find it hard to track down my favorite Czech and Hungarian beers! On the topic of food, somewhere along the line I started to take photos of dinners, so much so that my sisters kid me about it because I will occasionally snap photos at home of family dishes. Here are some of my favorite Foods and Beverages.
Perhaps another a way to interpret the "When in Rome" statement is to be a participant rather than a spectator. Several things that I am now passionate, I learned from trying new things on earlier travels. Most every place one goes there are cool and down-to-earth things that seems to distinguish one place from another. Nashville it's C&W music, Vienna their Waltz, Texas has it's cowboy legacy, Southern California the beach (and the warm weather!).. So, like the old cliche says -" when in Rome do as the Romans" - in Texas find a C&W Bar and try a two-step, and in Southern Cal. head to the beach for a surf lesson!!!
One observation from traveling around is that attractions seem to fall into the categories of local, regional, and national and global attractions. Typically, national reknowned places such as San Francisco or New York are the major travel destinations; whereas local travel remains just to persons from that area. However, often times these local or regional places are overlooked. Many times one will hear, "I lived there for years, though never visited _______". Also, perhaps you want to travel some place far away, though don't have the time or money. It's possible that someplace local or within a short drive might be a good alternative. Furthermore, most travel is done on weekends (i.e. regionallly) versus week-long trips.
For local travel, one's home base really does make a difference (on an aside one of the great things about Europe is that a weekend trip can be to another country).
Living in Boston means travel around New England. So with that in mind, in the summer of 2004 I explored around New England. The first stop was Scottish Games that were held in Greenfield, NH. The next stops were an Irish Festival in Boston and a Cajun-Zydeco festival in Conneticut. Then a Greek food festival, a Summer Solstice fest, followed by Sand Castle fest in New Hamshire, Harborfest here in Boston, and a trip to the White Mountains Overall the summer went well.
* World Festivals and National Holidays
For past trips, I have penciled in which museums or churches to see; however rarely have I've scheduled the timing of trips to coincide with major festivals such as Marti Gras. For example, Venice has several festivals throughout the year; however we never thought to check this ahead of time. One trip I did luck out and catch the Salzburg music festival during August, though better to be prepared than to leave things to chance.
Another area I have overlooked as a travel opportunity are national holidays. For example, in the U.S. attending Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade. Being here in Boston I've been fortunate to enjoy 4th of July festivities. I would like to explore events for national holidays such as in Europe, such as Oktoberfest in Germany.
* Local Ethnic Neighborhoods and Festivals:
Many U.S. cities, as with many cities around the world, have been heavily influenced by immigration. In the U.S., NYC perhaps is the best example of the diversity of cultures. What's great is that many ethnic groups have maintained their heritage over several generations. Many cities have a Little Italy, several larger coastal cities have a Chinatown, and almost anywhere one can find an Irish Pub! The influence of many cultures is too numerous to mention - Hungaran (Cleveland), Sweden (Minneapolis), Mexican (Southwest), Polish and Greek (Chicago, Detroit), Czech (Iowa, Nebraska). Several ethnic communities hold festivals with notables such as St. Patrick's Day. In addition to the ethnic food, which one can often get a a local restaurant, a festival has music, dancing, along with a few beverages, too!
So, wherever you live or go, perhaps check and see if there are any festivals. One web site, not surprisingly, is Festivals. It lists some international events, though seems to be mostly for the U.S. With respect to world festivals, I've come across a couple more general festival sites, Explore, 2Camels and Rick Steves. which is solely for Europe. It's fun to browse and see the various events, though sometimes not all events are listed as I think the entries are made when an organization contacts a website. For local events, city web sites and or local papers will usually list upcoming events. Another source are the Chamber of Commerce web sites. For Boston, a good web page for festivals is boston.com.
"The More They Remain the Same"
Traveling has opened my eyes up to many new things, well new to me, as most places I have visited have existed for hundreds if not thousands of years (especially natural wonders!).
For cultural destinations, one thing I've have noticed when visiting old ruins, museums, or churches, is that architectire or artiftacts tell only a part of the story. I enjoy tours when the guide spins tales of folklore. Recently, on one trip I have read up on the region's history, and these stories complemented the trip. Hence, prior to big trips I try to visit the World History section in a library or bookstore. A challenge is finding the time to read, when planning trip itineraries is more pressing!
With respect to preserving history, UNESCO is an organization that is trying to help preserve historic landmarks (UNESCO stands for United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization). I first heard about it when I was traveling in Hungary. A person I traveled with someone who mentioned that they keep an eye out for UNESCO sites. This link took a little time to load as it contains all of their World Heritage sites. There are 700+ sites from all around the world so perhaps one will be in the vicinity of your destination. Note they now have a Map function which makes it real easy to see what sites might along ones travel route. Relatively speaking, Europe and Central America seem to have more sites, whereas the U.S. has much fewer.
As I thought about the above more, it is more geared towards culture. On a fun note, one can read a book on the history of chocolate, skiing, surfing, et al, or events such as Marti Gras or Oktoberfest.
When I plan trips I sometimes wonder about whether to see a lot of places briefly or to immerse myself into one place or activity.
Overall, my travels have basically been broad and diverse often traveling to new places. There are only a few places I have revisited, such as the Grand Canyon, and more regionally in New England I've been to Bar Harbor several times.
However, within these travels a theme of visiting national parks or checking out NASA museums all across the states, or visiting dozens of caves in one stretch, each would be classified as having niche interests.
I suppose if one focuses solely in on their favorite passions, that even here there will be new things to learn as one goes from an novice to a well-traveled expert. For example, there are weeklong surfing classes whereas my surfing has been done a morning here or afternoon there.
I suppose a balance between both would be good.
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