21 November 2012

Friday's (Way Overdue) Top Five: Vacation Destinations

Sheesh, you tired of me yet, faithful readers of five?

So it is time I post the second (and final) catch up FT5 post. Staring out my window, looking the snow, and longingly makes me think of my best vacation destinations.

This list reflects the places I have been and recommend to you all, not necessarily the places I want to go.

5) Penticton and Disneyland

I lump these two destinations together for one reason: this is my vacation future. Once I have kids, this is where I will likely go most of the time. I am A-OK with that.

Disneyland is magic, pure and simple. My time there was short and I only got to experience California Adventure. But I know that when I get to experience Disneyland through the eyes of my child, then this place will where my best memories will come from. Sometimes you need a vacation to simply experience happiness, and Disneyland is that place.

Penticton is relaxing, pure and simple. My time there on my honeymoon was restful and enjoyable. When we have kids, we simply won't be able to afford extravagant vacations. So we need a place that is a reasonable drive away, affordable, enjoyable, with lots to do but in a relaxing manner so that it feels like a vacation. Penticton is that place.

4) The US South

Source: Unknown
Y'all, I love the South.

My love affair started on the Great US Road trip of 2002 with Joanne when we travelled trough Northern Florida, Georgia, South and North Carolina and Virginia. The South is like nothing I had pictured or expected. It was a sudden and passionate love affair, cut short by the journey I had to take north. I even said on the trip "Jo, now I know why the South tried to separate." It is truly like a different world. It feels like it's own culture, fiercely patriotic but distantly removed from the hectic pace and thought, that is the rest of America. I almost feel like I stepped back into a different (better) era when I stepped off the bus.

Everyone is so friendly. Everyone is so helpful. Everyone is so curious about you. Everyone is so hospitable. It is like the clocks stop because the connections with people are more important than anywhere you need to go.

The food - oh God the food. Where do I begin? You feel the love of the culture in every spoonful. You feel the pride in every bite.
Source: Travelwire.com

I had the pleasure of spending two weeks in North Carolina with a dear friend and her family in 2006. So I got to *know*  North Carolina. I got to *experience* North Carolina. There was simply so much to do, as is the case with all of the South. There is something for everyone...the beach bum, the military junkie, the history buff, the sports fan, the nature freak.

If you are looking for a slow-paced vacation with many options, go to the South.

3) Washington DC
Source: Telegraph.uk.co

I can't explain how much I love Washington D.C. There is much to love.

You have to appreciate a city has no skyscrapers (because no building can be taller than the the Capital Building). You have to appreciate a city that charges free admission to The Smithsonian's, giving everyone equal opportunity to experience historically and culturally significant artifacts that defined the nation. You have to appreciate a city so powerful and rich in political tradition. You have to admire a city that goes out of its' way to honour those who have served by way of vivid memorials and poignant grave sites.

There is so much to do that my one 3-day visit alone wasn't enough. There is so much to love. There is so much to recommend. Just go. You won't regret doing so. It will stay in your heart forever.

2) Las Vegas
Source: unknown
"Bright light city gonna set my soul, gonna set my soul on fire." ~Elvis Presley 

Vegas, you saucy lady. You grew on me. I didn't care for you at first. Sure, you had lights and excitement and endless buffets. But you were busy and hot. I was tired. I wrote you off.

But circumstances in my life kept bringing me back when I would have rather gone elsewhere. And each time, you revealed yourself to me, real and artificial. I got to experience a wedding, Vegas-style. Most importantly, I learned how to travel and be alone in a foreign city.

By around the third date, you and I decided to take our relationship to another level. I was with friends, and I got to genuinely enjoy every minute of you. I even got to see every bathroom in every hotel thanks to a pregnant friend. I got to see a whole new side of you...

By the fourth time, I was with the man I love. He took me to The Mix at the top of The Hotel at Mandalay Bay. With your beautiful lights displayed to me in an exhilarating fashion, the love of my life proposed to me.

When I tire of your bright lights and loud slot machines, I can rent a car a drive to both a man-made (Hoover Dam) and God-made (Grand Canyon) wonders. Each time I do come back to you, there is a new hotel or display or restaurant to explore. You continue to reinvent yourself.

I visited you again last month. It will probably be the last time for a long time. I got to eat the most amazing food, and relax by the pool without a worry in the world. You rejuvenated me.

I worry you are about to get tired, but I fear not because the cranes of construction tell me you are reinventing yourself again. I worry that you are starting to become elite and unaffordable to the masses, but you will adapt to the needs of the masses, like you have for the past century. So when the time comes to visit you again, you will offer me new attractions and new sites to explore.

1) The Canadian National Parks in Alberta and B.C.
This was my view from the Banff Springs Hotel!

I will summarize my thoughts in a haiku:

Breathtaking beauty
There is so much to explore
This is God's country

I am fortunate to live a short drive away from Jasper and Banff. Thanks do my brilliant husband, I got to explore the National Parks in ways I never have before while on my honeymoon. My husband took me hiking all over the place. We didn't just stop, take a pic, and drive on. We hiked around every lake we came across. I saw some of the most incredible sites of my life, sites I never explored the previous 20 times I went to Banff.

We continued our journey through Yoho National Park and Glacier National Park on our way to Penticton. I got to see amazing sites like Takkakaw Falls:

I would recommend that everyone take the time to really explore the National Parks of Alberta and BC. Stop on your journey to where ever you are going. Plan an extra day or two. Really live in the moment. You won't have any regrets.

What are your top five vacay places? And head over to Joanne's blog to see her choices!


Joanna said...

Beautifully written and so totally worth the wait!!

Thanks for sharing this -- you should be a travel writer in one of those fancy-schmancy magazines.

Nicole Ufland said...

Most certainly worth the wait! You are right though DC in 3 days is simply not enough. A week min. Heck the Smithsonian alone can take up 2 full days lol I LOVE IT!
And southern food ... nothing like it ANYWHERE you are once again correct. It is lovely when you are indulging on holiday but those that live her that eat it daily WOW, highest rate of heart disease in the country!
Can't wait for the Christmas Crazies blogs to ensue!! Bring em on!

Ren said...

I wish my grandparents (my mom's parents) had stayed in Penticton longer. I wish my aunt still lived there (although now that she is in Vancouver, she is just a ferry ride away from my parent's house in Victoria).

I really have to spend more time in Banff this spring/summer, it's only about an hour away. I also want to drive down to Waterton.

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