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Belize, Canada, Cuba, England, Japan, Portugal, Tasmania, Travel Wishlist

My 2014 Travel WishList

Ah, the joy of a New Year. Almost a year ago to the day, I wrote my 2013 Travel WishList and I would have never believed you if you’d told me I would walk across Northern Spain and sip wine in Slovenia. There are 350 days left this year… I’m excited to see where I end up and I’m embracing the unknown!

Below is my 2014 Travel Wishlist. Unless I win the next Mega Millions drawing, I probably won’t make it to all of these locales, but I will hit a few – that I’m sure of. And a few surprises will crop up too. Following my reasons for wanting to visit each country is a link to a selection of highlights from AFAR Travel Magazine’s online community… Follow the link to browse what fellow travelers consider to be the must-sees in each of these places:

Japan – I am so completely intrigued by Japan, and despite spending a lot of time in neighboring countries, I have yet to make it here. A few friends have traveled to Japan and told me of the peacefulness of this country… Ok, Tokyo might be a bit like sensory overload, but after a few days in the fish markets, karaoke halls and kimono shops, imagine strolling through the Bamboo Forest of Kyoto, then learning the rituals of a tea ceremony at the ancient chashitsu, or tea rooms, or testing your luck at spotting a real Geisha in Gion.

Tokyo’s Fish Market, Photo: Rod C

If you’re a nature enthusiast like me, you may consider a trek up Mount Fuji, so long as you’re legs aren’t still wobbling from the high speed train journey there. Or, if nature, with less of an adrenaline rush is more your speed, then the shrines and temples west of Tokyo make for a more peaceful day trip.

Mount Fuji, Photo: Travel4Kids.com

It seems like I would need an endless number of days in Japan, as this itinerary only covers the central main island of Honshu. On the Southern most part of this island, you can visit the Hiroshima Peace Park before heading to the island of Kyushu, for hot springs and the history of Nagasaki. Or alternatively, head north to Hokkaido for National Parks and winter ski resorts. Japan has something to entice any type of traveler, and is number one on my 2014 travel wishlist.

My AFAR Wanderlist for Japan:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/japan-2014-travel-wishlist

England/Great Britain – Born, and raised for the first five years of my life, in England, I can say I know the country quite well… parts of it that is. Hence the reason I want to spend some more time here. I feel the need to better acquaint myself with the place I hail from.

Abbey Road
Yorkshire, Photo: Andrew Montgomery

I’ve never been to Liverpool, and I want to walk across Abbey Road and tour The Beatles’ old haunts. I’d then take a train from Liverpool up to the Lake District and spend some time on the walking routes here, maybe even climbing a mountain or two. I’d like to see the Yorkshire Moors Emily Bronte told me about during my Senior English Class and sip tea in an old Victorian B&B .

Pembrokeshire, Photo: Spila Riccardo

I’d then head South to my favorite part of the country… the English Seaside. I’d stop in Devon and Cornwall, places I visited during my childhood Summers, and then head further south to Penzance before taking a boat ride 28 miles out to sea, arriving at the Scilly Isles – the Southernmost point of England. And for good measure, I’d head to Wales and walk the rugged Pembrokeshire coastline and Anglesey’s pebble beaches ending up in a local joint to savor fish and chips.

My AFAR Wanderlist for England/GB:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/england-slash-gb-2014-travel-wishlist

Lisbon, Photo: Lonely Planet

Portugal – Sample the day’s best catch in the ancient fishing village of Ericeira, sunbathe on a crescent beach surrounded by limestone cliffs in the Algarve, try to decipher between tawny and ruby at 16th-century port houses in Porto, and rumor has it, sample the best sangria in the world… Portugal has been creeping up on my list for the past couple of years, and when I learned there was a Camino that started in Lisbon and meandered north through the quaint villages of this country, it got a secure spot on this years list of places I want to go.

Algarve Photo: Bookableholidays.com

Since Portugal’s entire Western and Southwestern borders meet the ocean, it seems like the perfect Summertime destination for the vitamin D junkie that I am. But if the promise of sand and sun doesn’t have you throwing your bikini in your backpack right away, fear not… Portugal has plenty to offer.

Lisbon, Portugal’s capital city, seems to be packed full of restaurants, wine bars, cafes, museums and shops. A ride on the free tram, (#28) will get you acquainted with the layout of the city and save your legs from some steep climbs.

Tawny port, Photo: Jon Sullivan

North of Lisbon is Sintra, a city that will appeal to the history buff inside of you. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage sight in 1995, this place has Moorish castles and royal palaces to spend a couple days exploring.

And Porto, or Oporto, well, the name says it all…

My AFAR Wanderlist for Portugal:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/portugal

 
Photo: Fodor’s

Cuba – Cuba seems like a little secret to me. Growing up in the US, I quickly learned that it’s a country many consider off limits, unless you make the extra effort to fly via Mexico or Canada. However, having a British passport makes me feel I shouldn’t waste any time getting here. When I think of Cuba, a few stereotypical things come to mind… Cuban cigars, Che Guevara, old cars, rice and beans, old men sitting outside an even older bar playing chess, rum, Fidel Castro, the Embargo. So why do I want to go here?

Cuban Mojitos, Photo: JaketheSnake

I have a fascination with culture, specifically with rich cultures that have yet to be totally diffused or diluted by Western influence. Pair this with a rich, if tumultuous, history, and the intrigue is here. This place is practically in my backyard, and I can’t wait to explore the city of Havana, the beaches of the Southern coastline, and acquaint myself with the people of this island country.

My AFAR Wanderlist for Cuba:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/cuba-2014-travel-wishlist

Peggy’s Point, Nova Scotia

Canada – From what I have seen and researched, and from what my beloved Canadians who I have met on the road have told me, I have come to the conclusion that I will LOVE the coastlines of Canada. Every person I have ever met from British Columbia has basically convinced me to move there within minutes into a conversation. A mountainous coastline, world-class skiing, hiking, and yoga are all on offer here.

Then, I spend a few minutes researching the rugged coastline provinces of Newfoundland, Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia, and they tease me to head east first. This opposite coastline looks idyllic and seems to have a serene beauty about it. I would love to spend time exploring both seaboards but there’s a lot not to be missed in between as well.

Prince Edward Island, Photo: tourismpei.com

The Rocky Mountaineer offers a 15-day coast to coast train ride that also allows you to explore Kamloops, the Canadian Rockies, Toronto and Montreal. Train travel stirs up a sense of nostalgia in me, and it would be a nice departure from my normal backpack and hostel routine. But the $5,000 price tag means I may be saving for a while before this dream is fulfilled.
http://www.rockymountaineer.com/en_US_CA/routes_and_packages/canadian_rocky/coast_to_coast

My AFAR Wanderlist for Canada:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/the-coasts-of-canada-2014-travel-wishlist

Glover’s Atoll, Photo: Fareboom.com

Belize- A good friend recently graduated from PA School. She talked of doing a trip before making a commitment to a 9-5. We talked of locations and criteria: somewhere warm, somewhere we could get to quickly, easily and on the cheap, and somewhere that wouldn’t break the budget. She said Belize, and I began to do the research. I scoured AFAR’s highlights, was immediately sold on the locale, and began planning a week -long trip.

Photo: wuhs.org

I’m not going to lie, it’s the middle of January, and despite being in Atlanta, the lows are dropping below 20. My bones are cold, I need some sunshine and Vitamin D. Belize won’t break the bank… I imagine it to be a good mix of fun and sun, with just enough culture to make it less hedonistic than perhaps it could be. It’s nice to know the ruins are there, but show me to the beach-side hammock and hand me a pina colada please…

My AFAR Wanderlist for Belize:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/belize-2014-travel-wishlist

Wineglass Bay, Photo: charterworld.com

Tasmania – All it took were a few pictures on a friend’s Facebook page to seal the deal here. I want to go to Tasmania and I want to go NOW! This place looks other-worldly. Not only are you surrounded by some of the most beautiful scenery I’ve seen (online), it seems like you can do it all here – hiking, fishing, kayaking, river cruising, biking, dining, wining, surfing…

Cradle Mountain Hike

This Australian island 11 hours from Melbourne packs it all in. You can even get a glimpse of the Tasmanian Devil (yes, it does exist) and a wallaby. You can cover the entire country by car in about two days, but with stops, 10 days seems to be a fair amount of time to really see Tassie. 

My AFAR Wanderlist for Tasmania:
http://www.afar.com/travelers/eleanor-hallewell/wanderlists/tasmania-2014-travel-wish-list

All this talk of travel gives me itchy feet. I find myself between Kayak and Skyscanner, scoping out one-way tickets….Maybe I’ll kill two birds with one stone and just find a job overseas…Not a bad idea!