Inspiration

Journeys of a Lifetime in December

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Airboat in the Everglades: Get deep into the mangrove forests of Florida's backcountry where alligators seemingly get bigger as you go deeper; you may even catch the rare Florida panther if there's a blue moon out.

Lake Nicaragua: A freshwater lake surrounded by lush forest and volcanoes? Crocodile-like reptiles submerged below the jungle canals? Swordfish sport fishing in a mystic lagoon? Am I dreaming?

By Road

The Grand Trunk Road: Peshawar to Kolkata: a road some call "the great river of life." It's a highway beaded with historical and memorable cities that combine to make an incredible, South Asian road trip.

The Pan American Highway: It's pavement that spans continents, but taking a ride in Tierra del Fuego and reach the end of the world: Ushuaia. You'll see grazing grasslands and ominous, omni-present mountains. Pretty great, huh?

By Rail

El Chepe: Ride the rails through an unspoiled landscape four times larger than the Grand Canyon. Indigenous Indians of central Mexico line the way, giving you access to a brilliant Latino culture.

The TranzAlpine: Cross Arthur's Pass and witness a blizzard outside your train window on this mountainous journey through the Southern Alps of New Zealand. Sounds like it gets wild.

On Foot

The Headhunters' Trail: Stay in a longhouse with Iban villages. Wade through the tea-colored waters while admiring the limestone spires. Hope you still have your head upon the trip's completion.

The Levadas of Madeira: The levadas of Portugal are a network of watercourses that hydrate the paradiasical sugarcane fields. Apparently, moseying along these canals is a camera-friendly activity.

In Search of Culture

Colonial Virginia: Even if reenactments and period acting isn't to your fancy, Christmas just may be, and Williamsburg does this holiday justice.

Ancient Egypt: Show up for the peak Nile cruising season and enjoy the history museums to make sure your time in this ancient landscape is epic.

In Gourmet Heaven

Blue Mountain Coffee: It's the best coffee in the world. It's the best time to visit Jamaica. Those are two good reasons.

Vietnamese Cuisine: Imagine a leaf of cilantro floating on a sea of seasoned broth, handmade noodles sitting below the surface like a hundred Loch Ness monsters. Are you hungry for some pho yet?

Into the Action

Surfing in Hawai'i: You're going to need a wetsuit in that chilly water, but you're also going to catch some towering waves at hot spots like Waimea beach or the Banzai pipeline on O'ahu island.

Friesland's Eleven Cities' Tour: 16,000 ice skaters jump at the proclamation of the Elfstedentocht race, which only happens on the rare occasion in Holland when the ice is 5.9 cm thick. Await the call of the race anxiously and follow the races route along the footpath beside the frozen river.

Up and Away

Skyriding over St. Lucia: This Caribbean island will make you see colors. Real colors. Absolutely vibrant hues popping through the tropical air. Zipline around the canopies of the forest, and then save some time for some fresh product at a cocoa estate.

Angkor by Helicopter: Seeing the world's largest religious monument in a way that few experience, an enlightened view from above. See what can be done with incredible planning, gray stone and a herd of trained elephants for heavy lifting.

In Their Footsteps

Hemingway in Cuba: The Malecon was Hemingway's first view of Havana after sailing from America. Go and be moved by the same places this famous writer and Nobel Laureate frequented during his time on this vivacious island.

Alex Haley's Roots: See what Alex Haley found when visiting Gambia, a main topic of his Pulitzer winning book Roots. It would involve a boat ride and a village chief...and surely an incredible cultural quest.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in January for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Journeys of a Lifetime in November

journeys

Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Every month I will pick out a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).

Across Water

Kerala Backwaters: A gorgeous chunk of an enthralling nation, Kerala is webbed with narrow, seemingly endless channels connecting large lagoons with lush banks. Prepare to live on the water and be sustained by veggie meals and coconut milk.

Nile Felucca Cruise: Aboard a white-sailed falucca on a historical stretch of the Nile, this trip will present mummified crocodiles, ancient architecture and a rural glimpse of Egypt unknown to most.

By Road

The West Coast Road: For me, nothing is more satisfying than seeing oceans and mountains converge. Driving along the west coast of the south island of New Zealand will give you all the vistas you could hope for.

The Forts of Oman: A round-trip drive from capital Muscat offers the viewing of thousands of castle and forts built with mud and stone. They'll have you thinking about Oman's strategic position and its ancient culture.

By Rail

The California Zephyr: "Through the Rockies, not around them" - this train route takes you through the Wild West, starting in Denver and ending in Salt Lake City. Mountains, grasslands, rocky outcrops, the natural works - bring your camera.

The Chiva Express: It's actually a specially adapted bus lacquered in bright colors and murals that transports people from the Andes to the tropics. Travel through diverse terrains while strapped in below or seated on top.

On Foot

The FitzRoy Massif: "Cross icy, rushing creeks, traverse valleys, and circuit lakes" - oh sweetness, who wouldn't dream of traipsing around Mount FitzRoy in Argentina? Remember, it's summer down there!

The Rigsum Gompa Trek: You know you're obsessed with traveling, traveling to the exotic, traveling to the seemingly unattainable areas, and Bhutan is just waiting for your wallet and your open eyes. Why not make that trek next November?

In Search of Culture

Temples of Thailand: It's still going to be hot but not nearly as humid if you travel to Thailand in November for some spiritual awakening along the spine of this content and enlightened country.

Cathedrals of France: The search for culture seems to often be inhibited by the hordes of crowd often present in Europe, but late fall should be a gorgeous ambiance for adoring massive works of stone and mastery.

In Gourmet Heaven

Search for Sushi: I'm still not sold on this culinary obsession, but they say there's no bad time to visit Japan for the real thing. I actually visited the Tsukiji fish market before it was closed off to visitors. That's one fish-crazy country.

Cape Winelands: Africa + Wine = Stellenbosch outside of Cape Town, South Africa. Remember this equation, and when you find yourself in that gorgeous city, you'll know to book a day tour and go after that pinotage!

Into the Action

The Belize Barrier Reef: Get ready for a seemingly endless list of awesome marine life: manatees, sharks, rays, turtles, crabs, fish, and all the coral you could shake a snorkel at!

Elephant Safari: Ride atop a slow-moving pachyderm with a panoramic view of the grasslands of Nepal. Does that spell out "exotic" or what?

Up and Away

Island-Hopping by Air: Fly above some gorgeous granite islands that change color in the sunset light. The south Indian Ocean delivers, and the Seychelles are a great place to see these magical tropics from above.

Great Australian Pub Crawl: Imagine a pub crawl without matching t-shirts, without clomping in your high-heels to each establishment, without ground transportation in between. That's right; fly from pub to pub in the Oz Outback. Whoa, that's serious drinking.

In Their Footsteps

Pablo Neruda at Home: Fly down to Santiago and visit the homes-turned-museums of Nobel laureate (of literature), Pablo Neruda, and you're sure to walk away a little more savvy of the political landscape and attitude of late 20th century Chileans.

A Voyage to the Galapagos: What comes to mind with the words "Galapagos," "Darwin" and "animal utopia?" Your upcoming, awesome vacation in November of 2010, that's what.

How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in December for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!

Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.

Clicking with Athens: Day 53

Anything seems inspiring in Athens

I love Italy; therefore, I always thought I'd love Greece. It's easy to lump them together as Southern Europe/Mediterranean countries and call them similar cultures since they both claim responsibility for civilization as we know it. Ah, but driving into Athens, observing the surrounding barren hills, passing by the various eateries, hearing a language so dissimilar from the romances...Greece immediately broke away from Italy in my mind and thrilled me immeasurably. Things are very different here; however, there still seems to be that indescribable inspiration that pulled me to Italy years ago. I was bound for a good week in a new country. Athens knows no boundaries. I couldn't find the end to the buildings that crawled up the hill slopes and towards the sea. I was far too intimidated to venture anywhere in town other than my hotel's neighborhood, for fear of never finding my way back. Athens certainly wasn't a planned city by any stretch of the imagination, so streets rarely met at 90 degree angles or seemed as wide as they should have been. Instead, I took a few steps outside and found the Plaka scene, a.k.a. tourist haven at the foot of the Acropolis.

Steaming and juicy gyros in minutes. Artsy fashion shops amongst souvenir displays. Trendy joints for moussaka blowing misty wind at the pampered clientele. I found everything I wanted (sandals, dresses, and gorgeous alleys), and all the prime opportunities for people watching I could ask for. And in between the buildings rose the age old columns of the Parthenon, the gods probably chuckling at all the ridiculous t-shirt designs and ruin-themed shot classes.

As much as these areas of towns piss me off, they also satiate all desires of shopping, eating, and observing things you didn't expect to see. One of my favorite parts about Athens was the fact that so many vendors were trying to sell these squashing, gooey balls that flatten as they're thrown on a board. Sad thing is tourists buy those. We all get sucked into the culture catered for us at some point, somewhere.

And with every turn down an alleyway, I found a moment between building and vine, stray cat and doorway, iron rod fence and flowers that made me stop, pull out my camera, and sweat away in the hot sun for that picture of the "moment." I would have taken a photo of trash cans if they were next to a wall of fantastic graffiti. There's something about these Mediterranean destinations that pulls my eye in and makes everything seem more romantic, even garbage and vandalism.

A city of vast expanses, charm and grit, and constant inspiration rising from every crowded street and pile of rubble. Athens has a history that will forever express itself. I like this city.