Obviously it goes without saying that there are certain places I would travel to-the Great Wall of China, the Sydney Opera House, the canals of Venice. But what about experiences? To me they are as important as seeing a famous sight.
The gardens at Giverny
Ever since I was a child, I have always wanted to visit the famous painter Claude Monet’s house in Giverny, France (Linnea in Monet’s Garden is one of my favorite children’s books after all). Monet painted dozens of canvases of his home’s famous gardens, specifically the famous water lilies that he always captured so beautifully and brought to life and this is just something I would love to see in person. While I contemplated making the day trip to Giverny on my last trip to Paris (it’s only about an hour away by train), I didn’t want to take away any time from the City of Light. But since I have been to Paris three times now, you can bet that on my next trip there, I will make this sojourn.
Have a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba
Ernest Hemingway is one of my favorite authors. From a writing perspective I greatly admire him (from a father or husband side of things, no he was terrible). I visited his home in Key West, Florida, I even walked the streets of the quaint town he grew up in, the one he found so repressive that he escaped as soon as he was of age (for the record, I thought Oak Park, Illinois was charming). But my ultimate dream is to not only make it to Cuba, an island that he loved so, but have a mojito at La Bodeguita del Medio in the capital of Havana, a watering hole where he whiled away many hours…drinking of course. If I had to choose my favorite cocktail, a mojito would probably be it. It would be fitting to have one there.
Place a note in Jerusalem’s Western Wall
I’m not a very religious person although I am someone greatly interested in the many different religions that exist. Judaism is one religion I was always curious about (my interest really piqued during my semester abroad in Spain when I learned a great deal about the Sephardic Jews). Israel is a country I would love to visit one day and I think it would be an incredible experience to go to the Western Wall and write my own prayer. I read that since the notes are between man and his creator, the notes are never read but instead bundled in bags and subsequently buried in the cemetery in the Mount of Olives. According to Jewish religious practice, it’s forbidden to destroy anything on which the name of God is written. See what rich symbolism?
Stand at the docks in Antwerp, Belgium
I’ve shared plenty of times before that I am mildly obsessed with learning about my very elusive great-grandmother, my modern day immigrant tie. She sailed to America from the Belgian city of Antwerp in 1912 and while I visited Belgium, I didn’t make it to Antwerp. I would love to see the docks there and imagine the “immigrant ship” that brought her all the way across the Atlantic Ocean.
Paying my respects at Kanchanaburi, Thailand
Here in the United States, knowledge of the Pacific Theater in World War II is often much less compared to the Atlantic Theater in Europe in my humble opinion. It’s not to say that the fighting in the Pacific was any less because in actuality it wasn’t, the Pacific saw some of the worst fighting ever. But for many Americans, World War II will always be grouped with Pearl Harbor and Nazi Germany. So the events that went on in the Pacific are often forgotten and overlooked. While I would very much like to visit the memorial at Camp O’Donnell in the Philippines which was erected in honor of the thousands of mostly American and Filipino men who died on the infamous Bataan Death March, it’s in a somewhat remote area of the Philippines. However, the memorials in honor of the men who died in Thailand as POWs when they were forced to work on the railway as slave labor which was to connect Thailand and Burma were erected i the years following the war. The railway was never completed, but thousands of men died under horrific conditions. Kanchanaburi, the area of the former rail line, is an easy day trip from Bangkok. Although a visit like this wouldn’t be of interest to many people, it would be to me.