Travel highlights: What defines these for each of us? As we all travel – in real life or by browsing blogs and Pinterest – a million places catch our attention. At least it seems like that to me. So how does one destination, experience, or magical moment become a highlight that comes to mind when we remember it?
This year for me, travel was hard won, with health challenges knocking me down for a while. (Chemotherapy is tough!) But that makes the experiences I did enjoy so much sweeter. I’m grateful for every day I feel good now. I hope you won’t let ill health discourage you ever from exploring, even if it’s nearby and for short bursts.
Here are five travel highlights of 2016 that pop to the front when I look back at this year – and why. Maybe these will inspire you to plan some fun for 2017, even if it’s a trip to your local park or museum. You don’t need to go far. You just need to be open to the joys of travel!
Hiking in Palm Desert on New Year’s. This area is just a two-hour drive from my home, so it’s a great get-away. We can easily drive there and stay a night or two and feel like we have totally changed scenery and relaxed.
This year we discovered a new hiking trail just at the entrance to the town. The weather in January was perfect for being outdoors. We did go back in August and at temps of 108, we had to put any hiking on hold. The surprise of this new trail, the views of the town, and a breathtaking sunset started the year off right.
Driving to the Mountain Town of Julian in March. Julian is an hour drive from my home and is my place to go for a day away. When I had one day off work for any reason, I’d try to head here to recharge. The surprise of this trip in March centers on the blooms. In daffodil season, the lilacs were blooming, far too early. The unseasonably warm weather confused the flowers. I met a new friend who grows bushes of lilacs and told me about the joys of Julian while I played with her Golden Retrievers. You may travel to find something (daffodils) and it’s not there but that’s okay. Look for lilacs instead!
Riding a Bike along a Canal in Belgium. We stayed in the fairytale town of Brugge and showed up early in the morning to rent bikes. We planned to ride to the next tiny town and back. The bike store owner told us that was too short a ride. The weather was glorious and we should go the whole day and ride to the Netherlands and back. What? Just follow the canal, he advised, and when you get to the border, turn around and come back. So we did. What a delight. Once we got back we calculated how far we went, but at the time, we happily rode to the next country and back and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
Taking in the Sunrise on Notre Dame in Paris. It was worth getting up early, while the city was waking up, and walking to Notre Dame in the chill air to see the sunrise. Something about another day dawning on this church, as it has for centuries (!) will be one of the most moving sights in my memory. In Paris, security was vigilant, and we saw so many gendarmes and endured bag and jacket checks everywhere. You can’t help but be aware of how fragile our world is, how much France and other places have suffered in recent history, and how thankful we can be for each new day of life and light.
Hanging on San Francisco’s Cable Cars. I’m happy hanging on the pole off the edge of a cable car here, rounding corners and speeding up and down steep hills. We bought a three-day pass and rode so many times I lost track of the number. You can buy the passes at Walgreen’s and you’re good to go and explore the city. We ended our trip with a visit to the cable car barn, where you can see the giant cables that whir under the streets and whisk the cars to and fro. Our travels this year ended with this return to one of my favorite places in the world, a great end to 2016.
How about you? What your travel highlights of 2016, whether from your hometown or around the world?
Linking up with Image-in-ing, Little Things Thursday, Wednesday Around the World, The Good, the Random, the Fun, Through My Lens, Seasons, Wanderful Wednesday, Our World Tuesday, Photo Friday, Seasons at Life-n-Reflection, and Life Thru the Lens.