The One with the Wanderlust

 

You’re off to great places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting,
So get on your way!

~ Dr. Seuss

One of my favorite things about our community of bloggers is getting to know people all around the world. I’m always curious about far-flung (to me) places. Because of you all, there are many new places on my “bucket list,” and the list is always in flux. Right now if you told me I had unlimited funds and vacation time (or when this blog finally hits it big), these are a few of the destinations I’d go with no questions asked.

 

Istanbul, Turkey. I first met Anastasia Ashman when she contributed to The Subway Chronicles anthology. She’d already relocated to Istanbul and was working on an anthology of her own called Tales from the Expat Harem, a collection of essays from foreign women in modern Turkey. Reading the essays in her book I was intrigued by the paradoxes of Istanbul: East meets West, ancient meets modern, pop culture meets the call to prayer. Then Anastasia and her co-editor Jennifer Gokmen appeared on a segment of the Today show with Matt Lauer. Watching them in front of the 1500-year-old Hagia Sophia (once a church, then a mosque, now a museum) discuss the adventure of living and working in this vibrant city sealed the deal. Well, that and seeing James Bond flitting around Istanbul on a motorcycle in the film Skyfall.

Hagia Sophia

Completed in A.D. 537 as a Christian church, Hagia Sophia is an impressive example of Byzantine architecture. Image via Wikipedia Commons

 

Positano, Italy. There are plenty of charming seaside resort towns around the globe. What is it that keeps this one on my bucket list? Is it the way the buildings seem to be perched precariously on the hills? The limoncello? The sun-drenched peach and pink colors? Is it that John Steinbeck wrote this beautiful essay about it? Years ago, I received a postcard for a writers conference held annually in Positano. The town burrowed its way into my heart and has never left. Cue clip of me strolling along a path, gelato in hand, staring dreamily at the Mediterranean.

“It is a dream place that isn’t quite real when you are there and becomes beckoningly real after you have gone.” ~John Steinbeck

 

Yellowstone. Nearly 3500 acres of untouched wilderness? Yes, please. This is America’s first national park, located mostly in the upper northwest corner of Wyoming. The major appeal of Yellowstone is the vast space with relatively few people. For someone who lives in a crowded steel and glass canyon, I’m always looking for ways to visit  nature-made canyons. But this park (though the word park seems like an understatement) has far more than canyons—geysers, waterfalls and prairies. Let’s not forget the bears, elk and bison, to name a few of the animals that call Yellowstone home.  More than anything, I want to see the gray wolves in their natural habitat. This has been a dream of mine for years, since wolves were reintroduced to the park. Scott, over at Scott’s Eye Photos, took a trip to Yellowstone a few years ago and reignited my desire to go. The links above are to his amazing photos.

Here is an inside peek at one of Yellowstone’s impressive natural features: Mammoth Hot Springs, a network of 50 geothermal springs creating colorful terraced limestone.

 

Hokkaido, Japan. I imagine I’m staying in the Korakukan Jigokudani ryokan in the Japanese alps. I’ve just slipped into the onsen, the hot spring. The water is soothing every last care away. I slink down into the pool, just a bobbing head because it’s cold out there. It’s February after all. The macaques, a.k.a. snow monkeys, are watching. Even though their thick fur keeps them warm, bits of ice have built up around their faces. They decide to take a dip in the hot springs, so we’re all doing the same thing, except they have the added benefit of a neighbor picking mites off of their fur. I’m settling for a seaweed wrap and massage.

Yeah, buddy, I know what you mean.

Yeah, buddy, I know what you mean.

 

Once my fingers are sufficiently shriveled into prunes, I’ll head over to the annual Sapporo Snow Festival in Ōdōri kōen where enormous blocks of ice are carved into life-sized statues and replicas. 

 

These people aren't messing around.  Image via Wikipedia Commons.

These people aren’t messing around. Image via Wikipedia Commons.

 

Galapagos Islands. This is probably the place I’m most looking forward to going, the place that captures my imagination more than any other at the moment. This remote archipelago is where Charles Darwin first began developing his theory of natural selection. Writing for the Telegraph Mark Carwardine says, “Within minutes—sometimes seconds—of landing on this dot in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, you can be face-to-face with more strangely fearless and curious animals than anywhere else on earth.” He goes on to say, “One day you could be watching time-worn giant tortoises in the misty highlands, and the next you could be snorkeling with playful sea lions in crystal-clear water. You could be sunbathing on black lava rocks next to prehistoric-looking marine iguanas, or sitting with waved albatrosses as they perform their bill-circling, swaggering courtship displays.” 

Darwin's Finch

The rather unassuming bird that started it all: Darwin’s finch.Photo credit: Michael Perry via Flickr. 

 

I would be in my glory to be so close to these unique animals in one of the most pristine ecosystems on earth. As if that isn’t reason enough to go, the Galapagos Islands are about 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador. Which means I’d be right in the neighborhood of these lovely people.

 

Where would your wanderlust take you if you could go anywhere in the world? 

Have a great weekend, everyone! 

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35 comments

  1. So when are you all coming? We had friends here recently who came after their trip to the Galapagos and my sister will be doing that in July. We want you all to come visit soooooooo much!!! I know, the funds are not unlimited, but at least this leg of the trip won’t cost you anything. Fingers crossed!!!!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    1. The trip of a lifetime, really! The Galapagos has been a dream of mine for a while. I was doing a bit of research about which animals are on the islands at which time of year, so that will be a consideration.
      And after your beautiful posts about your adopted country, I know that I have to see some of these places you and Sara have been. (Plus anything to do with llamas)
      I’ll be there soon! 🙂

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  2. What do you mean “when this blog makes it big?” It already is!!! 🙂 Love your list—our son (the one that lives in NYC) went to Istanbul and loved it! He took some amazing pictures and it is definitely a place I would love to go. Other places on my bucket list would be Africa, Costa Rica, Alaska.

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    1. How great that your son was just in Istanbul! Did he have a favorite, don’t-miss sight? I’m compiling my to do list. 😉

      Anywhere specific in Africa that you’d love to visit?

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      1. He loved it all. I think it was there that he took a hot air balloon flight and he said it was really expensive but absolutely the best thing he did. THe pictures were amazing. Simply amazing. As for Africa—-anyplace—the hubby has a plan for “someday”. 🙂

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      2. Dare to dream, right? I’d love to visit Tanzania and the Gombe National Park to see where Jane Goodall did her most famous research with the chimpanzees.

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  3. All those places around awesome (and I know from experience that Yellowstone is awesome). I’m like to go anywhere, really… But at the moment Transylvania is high on my list.

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      1. One of my interests is religion and religious tolerance, and there’s a rich (and interesting) history of that in Transylvania. And their history in general is pretty awesome. And, all the pictures I’ve seen are just inspiring! 🙂

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  4. That Sapporo Snow Festival looks amazing. I can barely make a snowball.

    I’m seriously considering finally walking across the Brooklyn Bridge this year. That’s about all the wanderlust my budget can afford.

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    1. You won’t be disappointed. We have a lot of wanderlust in Brooklyn.
      Reggie can take you to all of his favorite spots. (Though they usually center around trees and intense hunts for napkins, I’m guessing these would not be at the top of your to-do list?)

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  5. Oh, great list, Jackie. I loved Istanbul and would love to go back. Much of Turkey is amazing.
    I want to see Norway and Ireland because my grandmothers came from there, and China because it looks incredible.

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  6. I’ve been to Turkey for a day trip but not to Istanbul. It’s high on my list of my places to visits.
    A nice post overall – and dangerous. makes you want to book flighst right away.

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    1. Yes, indeed! One of the other places on my list is Morocco. I remember the post you wrote when you took a trip there some time ago which increased my curiosity. You had such wonderful photos!

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  7. That was quite some trip we had there, Jackie! The snow monkeys kinda got to me 🙂 Japan is on my list of unattainable. Positano- yes, I was there, and it did have a magic.

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  8. And you just added a few places to my bucket list, and I’m not complaining one bit. I used to go to Yellowstone every summer with the fam. I love it there. I do have to say, if you go and you have a car, please drive to Grand Teton National Park. it’s about 2.5 hours away and the mountains are stunning. And just outside the park is Jackson Hole with such an old west feel. I wonder if the Cowboy Saloon is still there.

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    1. Grand Teton is a must! I’m sure the photos don’t do it justice.
      Jackson Hole sounds lovely. I’d always thought of it as a winter destination. Did you go at other times of the year?

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      1. We always went in the summer since we had a summer cabin an hour away. We had to close the cabin for the winters and no one in our family wanted to be trapped in a cabin for six months. Too many Stephen King fans in the family 🙂 I’ve never been in the winter, but would like to at some point.

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  9. Yellowstone is one of my favorite places! And I’d LOVE, for the same reasons as you, to go to the Galapagos Islands. Heaven! I’ve had a hankering to go to New Zealand (ever since I went to Australia). So that would be tops on my list, along with every inch possible of Alaska (I’ve only been to Sitka, a temperate rainforest-type area — GORGEOUS) and populated with so many bald eagles. And bears, of course. So many places to see!

    PS Are you loving The Orchardist? It’s one of my all-time favorites!!!

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  10. Hi Jackie. Great post! Visiting Istanbul is on my list too. I’ve studied some art history and love that Haggia Sophia has undergone several transformations by religious groups. I have already lived in Brooklyn (Brighton Beach) but coming back for a visit to see friends and family is always on my list!

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      1. Eons ago. In the 1970’s and 1980’s, but my husband still has his wonderful Brooklyn accent though. 🙂 Then we began our journey to 6 other states and ended up in Michigan! Who knows where we’ll go next. Positano is beautiful…well worth a visit. We saw a bride there eating pizza in the piazza in her gorgeous white dress with a bevy of bridesmaids and grooms eating along with her. I’ll never forget that!

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