Sunday, 1 July 2012

An Overview of Twelve Countries

As I mentioned in my first blog I have taken some wonderful vacations to a total of twelve countries including Canada and the United States.  This blog will provide more of an overview of these countries with a bit more detail to whet your taste buds so that you will want to keep reading about my experiences.

The first countries I visited were Canada where I was born and the United States.  In Canada I have visited 8 Provinces and 1 Territory including Montreal, Quebec where I was born and raised.  I have been to other parts of Quebec, and also Ontario, British Columbia, Alberta, and all 4 Maritime Provinces.  Last year I visited the southern tip of the Yukon Territory when I was on a family cruise in Alaska as part of a fabulous excursion.
In the United States I have visited or driven through 16 States and Washington, DC.  Being in close proximity to the US border I have been through New York State and all of New England except for Rhode Island and Connecticut.  To get to Washington, DC we had to drive through New Jersey, Delaware (it took a whole 8 minutes) and Maryland.  We also dipped into Arlington, Virginia on a fascinating city tour of DC.  When I was 12 years of age we went on a wonderful family trip to Florida and Disneyworld.  I have also been to Chicago, Illinois where my aunt and uncle now reside for family events.  As a result of my brother living in California I have visited there on several occasions for family events and for vacation travel, even going into Nevada on an unconventional van tour through Yosemite National Park.  Last year we took a family cruise to Alaska where I also got to see Seattle, Washington before embarking on our cruise which was the experience of a lifetime.
For my first big trip overseas, as a college student, I took a 5 week summer tour in Israel with a friend which is the only country in Asia that I have visited thus far.  It was through a Jewish Organization and we were taken all over the country.  We visited Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Haifa, Eilat and also various ruins and towns including the Galilee in the North and the Negev Desert in the South.  It opened up a whole new world for me and made me feel at home amongst my fellow Jews.
A few summers later while still studying in university I spent two months living and working in London, England.  Although some difficulties presented themselves it was an excellent experience which enabled me to grow and to expand my horizons.  I took some side trips to various parts of England including Bath, Hampton Court, Windsor & Eton, Stratford, and Oxford.  After the two months was over I visited other countries.  I took a 4 day tour to Scotland and saw Edinburgh, the Trossacks, Loch Lomond, and also the Lake District.  I then bought a Eurail train pass which enabled me to visit the continent for a couple of weeks.  I travelled to France where I spent time in Paris alone, with friends, and with my brother in law’s parents and took a day trip to Versailles to visit the castle.  I also visited Brussels, Belgium and Amsterdam, Holland where I had my carry on bag mistakenly taken by a tour group and never seen again.
For my 40th birthday I went to Italy and travelled solo through Rome, Florence, Siena, and Cinque Terre for about 10 days.  I also got to see the tower of Pisa (for a whole 10 minutes) before meeting the tour group with whom I would embark on a 1 week tour in Tuscany.  We were taken on many treks through mountain ranges and towns and also spent an afternoon in Lucca.  I got around Italy by train although I had to schlep my suitcase up and down the stairs and made one of my connections with less than a minute to spare.  The food was splendid and the gelato (Italian ice cream) was out of this world.
On another summer vacation I went to the Island of St Lucia where I spent a week at a Club Med resort.  I participated in various activities and also went on a day trip around the Island.  It is the only time that I have been to Club Med and despite the fact that it was mostly families with very few singles I still had a lot of fun.  It was my first time travelling on my own so it was a great way to start off my solo travel experiences.
A few years ago I travelled solo through Mexico despite being warned about possible dangers faced by travelers.  I spent a few days in Mexico City which is quite huge and expansive but has an excellent transit system.  I saw different sites but could not fit everything I wanted into a few days due to its huge size.  I was also careful to stay in the well travelled areas and not to stay out alone after 8 pm.  I then flew to the Yucatan Peninsula and visited colonial cities including Merida and Valladolid and the beach town of Tulum.  I went to various ruins including the touristy Chichen Itza but the highlight was when I took a tour of the beautiful Sian Ka’an Reserve although I got a severe burn on my back from the sun after omitting to put sunscreen on that spot.
Finally, two years ago in March I went to Costa Rica and stayed at an Ecological friendly lodge in the Osa Peninsula.  It was my first time staying in the jungle so it was a new experience for me apart from other trips I have taken through cities and mountainous areas.  I have also mainly travelled in the summertime so it was unusual for me to go in the winter.  It was supposed to be a tour but I was the only one of my friends that ended up going so I had the two guides to myself.  I was taken on walks and hikes through the jungle and through a river where there are gold miners working and living.  Unfortunately returning home was not a fun experience as my connecting flight kept getting delayed and cancelled due to bad weather near Newark Airport but I made it home just the same.
I hope you have enjoyed reading this overview of my travels.  Please stay tuned as I continue to blog and give you more details bit by bit of my various experiences.  What would you like to hear about and where have you been?  As always feel free to comment, ask questions, or talk about your own experiences.

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