29 December 2008


Last night, as I sat up unable to sleep from my cold, my mind wandered to the trip my cousin is about to make to Egypt. She and her husband plan to visit Egypt in January. At first, I wished I could go, but then I thought of the places I would rather go since I've been to Egypt (although I would like to go back to the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.) Then I mentally made some lists:

Places I have been that I never hope to see again
1. Waterloo, Iowa. I could skip the entire state, but since my dad's family were some of the early settlers, I have to cut the state some slack. Waterloo has to be one of the worst places I have ever been.
2. Venice, Italy. Crowded, smelly, dirty and full of tourists like myself and tourist shops. Oh, and like so much of Italy, filled with pit toilets, even in McDonald's. Redeeming quality - there are so many churches, you can't possibly visit them all and they are all incredible.
3. Alexandria, Egypt. We got off the beaten path and walked through more residential areas. As in many countries, there was no garbage collection which meant you had to watch where you were walking. From the buildings to the curb, and even spilling into the streets, were piles of garbage.
4. Amsterdam, The Netherlands. Ok, this could be on my list of places I have been that I would like to revisit, because part of my visit was colored by the fact that we spent the night in the Red Light District. Our flight got in late and we took the train from the airport into the downtown. The train station pretty much dumps you off near the Red Light District. It was very late and the streets were full of people you wouldn't want to run into in a well-lit public place. In addition, the streets were ankle deep in garbage. This totally shocked me since I thought these folks were known for being fastidious. Our hotel (there were NO hotels rooms available near the airport and very few near the train station, so we couldn't be too choosy) was seedy and adorned with red blinking neon inside and out. Kitschy to visit, but not a place you'd want to stay in. The hole in the ceiling of our room made us wonder if we were going to have some unwanted visitors during the night. However, once the sun came up, hordes of city workers were already out cleaning up the city and it was like a completely different place. Would like to see a few of the museums there if I ever go back.

Places I would love to revisit
1. Istanbul, Turkey. Actually, I love the entire country of Turkey. So rich in history, architecture and natural beauty. This time I would try to make it to Mount Ararat and Cappadoccia. I tried to make a side trip to Cappadoccia when we were there, but didn't want to risk being stuck in a remote area without reliable transportation.
2. Rhodes, Greece. I don't think you could ever see all there is in Greece, and I loved the island of Rhodes. I only wish I had known more history before I had visited there. Incredible walled medieval city with cobblestone streets, crusader fortress (Palace of the Grand Master), and cool churches established by the Knights of St. John.
3. Northern Germany. I would love to visit the areas where my father's family is from and do a Rhine Cruise. This time, I'd do the small towns and stay out of the large cities.
4. Rome, Italy. Like Greece, there is so much there you can't see it all.
5. Australia. This time I would make plans to see Ayers Rock. A visit to Melbourne would be nice too.

Places I would love to visit:
1. Machu Picchu - I have longed to visit here since I was a child.
2. Scandinavia and parts of Russia on a cruise - had this cruise booked shortly before we had kids and then the cruise line went out of business.
3. Catholic shrines in France - This was the trip I had planned before my brother got sent to Iraq (he lives in Geneva). Chartres, Lisieux, Ars, La Salette, etc., etc!
4. Maine and New England - maybe I can plan a trip here when my kids are a bit older and it becomes part of studying American History...just have to pitch it to my husband. He does have two lines (Cooke and Brewster) I've traced back to the Mayflower, so maybe he'd be interested.
5. Great cities in Canada - I've seen most in the western provinces since we used to live in Seattle, but I've never been to Quebec, Montreal, etc.
6. Israel (and Petra) - Sadly, this was on the itinerary when we were in the Mediterranean, but renewed unrest in the area caused us to detour to Cyprus. Hope to get here some day.

Favorite religious sites I've visited
Hagia Sophia, Istanbul - Impressive to read about, indescribable to visit.
Blue Mosque, Istanbul - Unlike anything I had ever seen before.
House of the Blessed Virgin Mary, near Ephesus - Few places provide such a physical connection to Our Lady. So small and humble, it was so fitting.
Old North Church, Boston - It doesn't necessarily wow you, but the history of it is what is interesting.
Aylesford Abbey, England - I'm a fan of St. Simon Stock, so had to visit here.
St. Mary Major, Rome - This was the church we regularly attended when we were in Italy. So many churches here to pick just one, especially since the Vatican is so incredible.
Irish abbeys and ruins - Some have been around for centuries, some have been in ruins for that long. All very interesting.

Please share some of your favorite (or unfavorite) places. I love to hear about interesting places to visit. Goodness knows, I'll be up thinking about them tonight instead of sleeping!


Anonymous said...

Let's see, loved all of Ireland, especially Kildare Cathedral and kissing the Blarney Stone, Waterford was pretty cool too. I will always have plans to go back to Ireland. Enjoyed Paris France but not sure I would go back, if I did I would probably just move into the Louvre and spend all of my time there. London was nice wouldn't go back. I will never go back to Mexico or drive through Gary, Indiana again. Would love to do the New England in the fall and have been told parts of Canada are a must. Carley

swissmiss said...

I don't think I'd go back to Mexico either. Don't get the fascination with the place other than it's relatively cheap (although I did like the ruins at Chichen Itza). Can't say I've ever even been in Indiana, so will take your advice and skip Gary! The French were actually nice so would go back there, but the Germans (in the large cities) were the rude ones. Outside of the large cities, in doing some genealogy, the people were extremely friendly and tolerated my junior high level of German. Maybe the moms can do New England as a respite before school starts in the fall :)

gemoftheocean said...

Neat post. I'll give a think on it. MY but you are well traveled.

swissmiss said...

I should've mentioned that many of the places were seen on one trip (Egypt, Turkey, Greece, etc.) It was a 15 day cruise in the Med that was super cheap ($999 pp including air!!). We had the cruise to Scandinavia booked on the same cruise line shortly after 911 happened and that was when several cruise lines went out of business...so we didn't go on that. When 911 happened, we had a trip to the Normandy beaches planned and were allowed to rebook. Went to the Scottish Highlands (did a tour of all of Scotland, England and Wales) instead figuring no one would find us there :) My first trip to Europe was a whirlwind back packing trip, so saw a lot that time too. The Australia trip was only months after we got married and hubby got sent there for work. Had to tag along on that one!

Laura The Crazy Mama said...

Place I'd like never to see again:
Buffalo, MN. Depressing and awful time in our lives.

Place I'd like to visit again: My sister's house about 25 minutes away. Seems like we only get to talk on the phone these days.

Place I'd like to visit: Anyplace that will make good food for me. I'm tired of cooking.

Yeah, I don't get out much.

Adrienne said...

I must go to Italy before I die! I can work outward from there...

swissmiss said...

I think your places are just perfect. I wish my parents were around to visit. My mom died when I was fairly young, but I was very close to my father and talked to him at least once a day and saw him at least once a week. You're blessed to have a good relationship with your sister :)

The time is now!! Don't you have several feet of snow out there in ID? It's always warm in Italy. Just do it! New Years resolution!