A few nights ago, we entertained ourselves by looking through photos from past adventures. As Roger flipped through each picture, he started saying, “I can’t believe we were there!” As he said it again and again, I started to wonder which “pinch me moment” places were my favorites. The list is long and picking favorites is as impossible as picking your favorite child! We have had some wonderful trips in fantastic places so it’s been hard to pick just a few.
These are just a few of my “pinch me” places that I will remember when I am old and I will smile because I was there! These are definitely spots to add to your bucket list, if you haven’t already!
Just the name is a complete sentence to me. In my mind, there is no other place on the Earth like it and I fell in love with a place that is magical, romantic, and beautiful from nearly every angle. When we visited, there was so much to see and so little time. I don’t know of any other city in the world where you can take a water taxi to the airport! Somehow, it felt wrong to get on a boat with my giant suitcase! What an experience that was! We loved the food, the artisans who make the famous Venetian glass, the food market, the magnificent buildings full of history and works of art, strolling down back walkways that opened to grand Piazzas, and the Gondolas! We were enraptured. Our trip to Italy was a bucket list check off, for sure! In fact, I have never taken it off! My hope is that we can go back again one day and immerse ourselves in all things Italian with lots of time to enjoy the charms of Venice.
For us, Paris is truly a “pinch me moment” with the emphasis on moment! Our first trip to England was our first trip to European trip, ever, and we planned it all on our own. We used Gray Line Tours to see the sights and in our planning, found a tour that took us by train from London through the Channel Tunnel into Paris for the day. The entire day was 12 hours long so our actual time in Paris was 8 hours at the most. At the time, we didn’t think we’d ever be that close again so we grabbed the opportunity to see everything we could. Part of the tour took us onto the Seine River, giving us the opportunity to see Notre Dome from the water. In light of the 2019 fire, I lamented that we didn’t have the time to go inside!
The tour shifted back to land at the base of the Eiffel Tower and while the bulk of our tour group went on to The Louvre, which is where we eventually reunited with them, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see Paris from the Eiffel Tower. Knowing that I am not a fan of heights, I risked a panic attack and went anyway! I’m so glad I did. The elevators alone are an experience as they creep sideways up the leg of the tower to the first level. Even from this vantage point, it was a spectacular view!
In separating from our tour group, our tour guide told us that all we needed to do was grab a cab at the base of the tower and she told us how to find her. RIGHT! This left me as spokesperson, in PARIS, trying to remember my high school French lessons to get us, as politely as I could manage, to the Louvre. I guess it worked but I told Roger to make sure to give the taxi driver a good tip!
Returning to Paris, and visiting other parts of France, remain BIG on my bucket list. We can’t believe that we were there for less than 8 hours and saw what we saw. It was a tiny taste of all things French and it was magnifique!
Westminster Abbey; London, England
We’ve all seen Westminster Abbey on TV during Royal weddings and funerals but let me assure you that in person, it is magnificent! It took my breath away! When I stood in this building, I felt the history all around me. Kings, Queens, Prime Ministers, Poets, Scientists. They are all there! From the black and white tile floor to the soaring cathedral stained glass, it is a sight to see. We’ve been lucky enough to be awed by it on two occasions and I will go back again and again if I am so fortunate.
The Hungarian Parliament Building; Budapest, Hungary
To celebrate one of our anniversaries, we took a Viking River Cruise down the Danube from Budapest, Hungary to Passau, Germany. Each place we visited was a “pinch me” moment for me but at the top of the list was our visit to Budapest. My beloved Great Grandmother was Hungarian by birth and I have wonderful childhood memories of the wonderful food she cooked and of a sweet children’s song that members of my family sang in Hungarian when I was young. I thought a lot about her when we were in Budapest even though the Hungary we saw was likely very different than the one she left in 1912. The Hungarian Parliament Building is fantastic from every angle and is an iconic figure in many of Viking’s ads. We stood on the top deck of our ship as we left Budapest for our next port and my friend that was traveling with us captured this fabulous shot that I cherish! What a fabulous place! I was so grateful to have been able to see just a glimpse of where my family came from.
Our visit to Ireland was almost one we did not make. We were not considering joining friends for an escorted trip until we told Roger’s Dad about it. Visiting Ireland had long been on my Father in law’s bucket list and we told him that if he wanted to go, we would go as well. It turns out that Ireland is remarkably beautiful and full of wonderful, welcoming people. Full of history, beautiful landscapes, and warm people, Ireland is certainly a country worth adding to your bucket list.
We explored Dublin, the Rock of Cashel, Blarney Castle, the Ring of Kerry, the Cliffs of Moher, noshed lunch at Rathbaun Farm, and marveled at Doo Lough Valley and Kylemore Abbey.
For me, my favorite parts of our trip were in Northern Ireland. From our base in Belfast, we visited the Titanic Belfast Museum and my favorite spot, Giant’s Causeway. I have to admit that I knew nothing about this place before we went so when we arrived, I was, and still remain, fascinated in the oddity and expanse of the location. We gingerly climbed the rock formations and marveled at their shapes all around us.
A few years later, we lost Roger’s Dad to cancer and we are now so glad that we were able to travel to Ireland and share that experience with him.
The Canadian Rockies
Roger will usually go on any trip that I’m passionate about. For our trip to the Canadian Rockies, he will admit that he really wasn’t all that excited about going. My guess is because he had no idea what we would see. Now, he marvels at how beautiful the Rockies are and we dream about returning one day when we can spend more time.
While I knew what to expect, it was a trip full of awe. Banff National Park, Lake Louise, Jasper National Park, The Columbia Ice Fields, Peyto Lake, Moraine Lake. To us, these are some of the most beautiful places we have ever been. The brilliant turquoise blue glacial water makes you think you’re in a tropical locale for just a split second but the cathedral Mountains around you remind you that you aren’t. The Rockies are a place to be admired and their ruggedness respected. The natural beauty is breath taking and moved us to speechless awe! We hope to return to the Rockies with our RV one day to be humbled again.
We are so blessed to have been to some really cool places, many of which we never thought we would ever see with our own eyes. What lucky ducks we have been! Our bucket list continues to grow and I can only hope that we are fortunate enough to find more places that we can share with you soon!
These places have turned us into storytellers and they will do the same for you! I hope our list inspires you to add some, if not all of these places to your bucket list.