Voilà, here is my (not so) grand return to the blogosphere! I’ve just gotten back into Paris, blissfully free of any transport problems, and am readjusting to my French life by continuing my usual habits of coffee, blankets, and my good friend Mr. Internet. I had a really lovely relaxing break, and I have to say I’m a bit reluctant to let go-I was able to bum about my house with my family and pets for one of the most peaceful Christmases I can remember, I saw many friends on New Year’s Eve (though not as many or as long as I would have liked!) and even paid a visit to an out of state friend with whom I got to go skiing…which was pretty epic and went SO MUCH BETTER than expected! (It’s been about 12 years since I last went, mind.) So it’s definitely hard to relinquish that vacation status and head back to work, but I am pleasantly surprised to find myself much less bitter about it than expected-my real grudge is that I know tomorrow, come 8 AM when I have my first class, I’m going to have some wicked jet lag and possibly be grouchy. Look out, little students.
Onto the point of this post! It’s a new year, and therefore everyone is making all kinds of resolutions and lists and whatnot, and I do ever so hate to be out of the loop, so I thought I’d join in. Unfortunately this list is actually sort of irrelevant to the fact that it’s a new year, as these things are not my resolutions and frankly I do not expect to complete most (if any) of these within 2014…particularly given that I haven’t a clue as to where I’ll be post-May. In any case, this list DOES consist of things that are overwhelming me on my travel bucket-list. Some of them are just countries, some are specific activities or places…some I may never get to do, unfortunately, and some could easily be ticked off the list given that I get a solid job in the near-ish future and save up. My full travel list is never ending, but here are some things that are just burning through me at the beginning of 2014!
Becky’s Travel/Adventure Bucket List…Things to do:
1) Go skydiving
2) Learn to dive…and go somewhere wicked awesome to do so.
3) Bungee jump. Because, you know, nature obviously wants me to play with gravity twice–skydiving isn’t enough!
4) Go caving/spelunking. Now, this could end poorly given my past experiences where cave exploration has given me some mild claustrophobia, but for an excellent adventure in a cool place I’d be willing to give it another go!
5) Go CAMPING. And hiking. I have specific places in mind, but frankly I haven’t done either of these things in a while minus El Misti last year, and I really miss them. I’d also like to become much more pro at them so I could do it alone in cool off-the-beaten-path places!
6) Ride an elephant. Enough said.
7) Pet a big cat. And I do mean Big Cat as in of the could-kill-you-with-a-paw-swipe variety, not as in your tubby housecat who eats his own weight several times a day. (Bonus: pet a cub.)
8) Go trail riding again! I grew up horseback riding and miss it frequently, and doing that out in nature is always so rewarding.
9) Run another obstacle course race. Earlier this year I participated in the Warrior Dash in Indiana, which was fun, and the first ever Bone Frog Challenge put on by the Navy Seals (came in 100th of 282…not bad!), which was simultaneously one of the most exhausting and rewarding things I’ve ever done. I loved it and can’t wait until I have the opportunity to do another.
10) Go skiing again–because this break reminded me how much fun it is, despite that horrible aspect of happening during cold weather. 😉
11) Do some urban exploring–I think I mentioned a desire to do this in my post on the Paris Catacombs, but it’s worth mentioning again because it just seems so cool to me. I’m fascinated by abandoned places. Technically, being in a city like Paris, I’m in a prime position to do so, but I’m a bit nervous about it given that I have A) no knowledge of where to go and B) a work contract to fulfill through April, which might be difficult if I was caught and deported.
Countries to Visit (in no particular order, because who could organize that?!)
1) Vietnam–I have heard NOTHING but good about this place, it sounds full of delicious food and incredible scenery, plus carries one of the places on my very specific list coming below.
2) Cambodia–Admittedly this one is fueled largely by my long-time desire to see Angkor Wat. I know it’s swarming with tourists these days, something to which I would only be contributing, but every time I see pictures of that place I get an electric desire to drop everything and jump a plane, camera in hand and ready.
3) India–I can’t even begin to cover the amount of things I’d like to see and taste and smell and do in this country because there are just far too many. This is one country which would probably take multiple trips to consider “ticked off” the list.
4) Kenya/Tanzania–Yes, two different countries, I realize, but I’m thinking very much about the big game reserve areas (Serengeti) which are sort of on the border, I believe. I’ve been on a serious sub-Saharan Africa kick lately and have been reading up on histories and cultures, and these are two of the countries that are strong contenders for my favor.
5) Afghanistan–Right, yes, I realize everyone just dropped their teacups and choked on their sandwiches, but the beauty and history seeped into this country’s soil cannot be ignored. I recognize that now may not be the best time for an American citizen (or probably most Westerners) to be popping around there, but I’ve heard wonderful things from people who have visited in the past and seen some fairly breathtaking photos, so Afghanistan is on the list.
6) Iran–Drop your teacup again? Perhaps you should invest in some plastic cups. Much like Afghanistan, I have heard high praise from visitors despite the unlikelihood of my being able to visit presently. Iran has an equally intriguing history (Persepolis, anyone?) and apparently some of the most intelligent and hospitable populations out there, according to my networks, so hopefully someday I’ll get to see for myself.
7) Yemen– I PROMISE this is the last one (for now) that will make you think I’m a nutter. I sincerely doubt I’ll get there anytime soon, but MAN does this country have an ancient and beautiful history. It’s definitely in some troubled and hot waters right now, but my desire to go there literally had me on the brink of applying to an Arabic program there this summer.
8) Morocco-Sounds chaotic, geographically varied, vibrant, and lively…just the kind of place where I would love to lose myself. I honestly had plans to try and visit whilst working here in France (so very close!) but price tags are probably going to make that impossible this time around. I’ll be back for you, Maghreb….
9) Argentina–Became obsessed with this country in high school for the stylish ideal of Buenos Aires, tango, and some fantastic grilled meat, but the real draw for me is Patagonia (thus Chile could also go on this list) which just seems to be full of that desolate empty beauty I can’t get enough of. I was very torn between Argentina and Peru when deciding where to study Spanish, and I’ve still got the itch to get to the former.
10) Guatemala–Bright colors, nature, ancient ruins, Spanish…done.
11) Iceland–150% for the scenery, it looks absolutely stunning and I MUST SEE IT.
12) New Zealand–You saw Lord of the Rings, right? Yes? Then I don’t think I need to explain this one much more. Been on my list ever since.
The Really Specific Travel List (I’m sorry this is getting so very, very long):
1) Son Doong Cave, Vietnam–Ok, so a few years ago this cave–the largest (not longest) in the world, I think? was discovered and featured in National Geographic. The photos absolutely stunned me and I have been dying to go ever since. Now, for the first time ever, tourists are going to be allowed in starting in 2014. There are only 220 permits available, so I doubt my ability to go this year…but I will be dreaming of this place until the day I can. (For tours: Oxalis Adventures)
2) America’s National Parks–Specifically, Yosemite, Grand Teton, and Yellowstone. I did Yellowstone with my family when I was like…4 or 5 and thus only have a few blurred memories, but I’d adore going back. I grew up visiting Wyoming, Colorado (family), and Montana, and have a pretty strong love for the American West.
3) Seattle & Portland–I inexplicably love these two cities without ever having gone, I think the appeal of cities so linked to nature and outdoorsy-ness really gets me, and they seem like such relaxed places…plus I’ve not met anyone from Washington or Oregon (and I actually have met several) that I didn’t like!
5) Anywhere I can see the Aurora Borealis–Northern Lights, kiddos…they are begging me to come freeze my bum off and look at them. My plans to go to Iceland could potentially fulfill this bucket list item. 😀
6) Vancouver/British Columbia, Canada–I’ve actually been here before for a couple of days when I was about 10 at the end of an Alaskan cruise with my family. I quite liked it there and would like to go back and explore some more!
7) Cave of Crystals/Naica Mine, Mexico-I don’t even know if you CAN go here as a tourist (you have to wear special suits and go in for limited amounts of time because of the heat), but like…I want to play on giant crystals, guys.
8) Mt. Kilimanjaro–I want to get into mountain climbing. I want to go to Tanzania. This seems like a wise combination, no?
9) The Fjords of Norway–Actually…I’d go most places in Norway, but these happen to look pretty scenic. Provided it’s summer, obviously.
Okay, I need to stop and go unpack now…sigh.
In any case, I’m back and ready for round two in France. You’ll be hearing from me soon!