Wednesday, December 30, 2009

My top 10 travel destinations

Frommer's just released their top travel destinations for 2010. I've not been to any of them, although I came close on two of the states and one country. And I have absolutely no desire to visit some of these places in 2010 -- or any time!

If money were no object, here's my top 10 list of destinations, but I'd spread them out over several years to allow time to savor the flavor of each spot.

1. Going on safari in Africa is something I've always wanted to do. My perfect destination would be Kenya. But there's so much unrest in Africa these days, I'm almost afraid to go. I took this picture at the Beijing zoo, but I'd prefer to see the big cats in the wild. I still get excited when we see deer or elk when we're camping.

2-3. Singapore is another place that has always captured my fancy. Exotic, but strict. From there, I'd go to Bali for awhile.

4. Yellow Knife in Canada's Northwest Territories. Many years ago, I considered driving up there, but the 700-mile stretch of gravel road made me change my mind. Maybe they've done some paving by now. And, no, I wouldn't want to fly up there.

5. Provence and the French Riviera. We spent a week in Nice at Christmas 2004, but it wasn't enough time. I want to go back and wander through A Year in Provence country, soaking up the local culture and drinking espressos at an outdoor cafe. I'd love to travel the country on a motor scooter.

6. Quebec. My French ancestors helped settle Quebec back in the early 17th century. Attending a mass in a church they helped build would be a totally cool experience!

7. Vera Cruz, Mexico. Another place that I picked because pictures of the colonial city looked neat.

8. Australia -- just about anywhere . . . Paramatta, Snowy River country, Ayers Rock . . . Melbourne was on Frommer's list, but I don't care if I get there or not.

9. Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands. I'd love to do an Amazon River cruise, then head over to the Galapagos Islands to see nature's best.

10. Israel. I'm not especially religious, but it would be a super experience to visit this Biblical land.

Frommer's list had 12 desinations on it, so match theirs, I'd add:
  • Russia, where my maternal grandmother was born about 100 miles from Kiev.

  • The Kashgar Sunday market in west China, as well as a few other places in China such as Lijiang and Tibet.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Try before you buy!

Another two of the podcasts I did for VisualTravelTours are now available on video. You can hear the introduction and view some of the photos on They are:
  • China's Great Wall: Walking on History. In this podcast, I review the Great Wall sites in the Beijing area, mainly the ones that I've been to. Despite heavy crowds, Badaling remains my favorite site to access the Wall. It's easiest to get to from Beijing on public transportation, and I love the "flea market" shops. It also is home to the Great Wall Museum, which is not to be missed. The picture here is of Badaling; if you walk a few minutes to the left at the main entrance, you'll soon be out of the crowds.

  • Imperial Beijing: Tian'anmen, Forbidden City, Jingshan. This is a walking tour that begins at the south end of Tian'anmen Square, the world's largest public square that is about 100 soccer fields big. It then continues to the Forbidden City, known as GuGong or Palace Museum in China. It was home to China's imperial families for many centuries. The tour ends across the street from the north entrance to the Forbidden City. Climb to the top of Coal Hill in Jingshan Park for some pretty neat views of what you've just seen at the Forbidden City.

The tours are downloadable to mobile devices. They are available on DVD as well. Click here to go to the podcasts on VisualTravelTours: Great Wall and Imperial Beijing.

I've also written other podcasts on Beijing; some are not available in video format yet, however.

Please see my website for more information about travel in China. If you have questions about travel in China, particularly the Beijing area, please feel free to email me.