Like most travel writers — not to mention millions of other dedicated baby boomer travelers — contributing writer Robert Waite is getting itchy to hit the road again once the COVID pandemic cools down.
But while many of us are eyeing new, bucket-list destinations, Bob is dreaming of returning to some of his old (and newer) favorites — to seek out more-in depth experiences and parts of countries that he missed.
It’s sort of a “been there, done that — but want to do it again” list. I can definitely relate to that (are you listening, Greek islands?).
By Robert Waite
Ottawa – What is a travel writer to do?
With borders closed and previously booked trips delayed or cancelled, one is left to journey only within the confines of one’s imagination.
And what I have been imagining recently are the places I have been to previously – ones to which I would love to return, once the pandemic passes.
I’ve come up with seven. But first there are some things I need to get off the table. London and Paris are not on the list – wiser men than I have said if you tire of visiting those cities, you are dead. I am still alive, if not always kicking.
I have also excluded North American destinations. Sorry about that Lake Louise, Quebec City, Bar Harbor, Yosemite, and Kauai.
So here they are: my seven places I’d love to return to, in no particular order:
I visited this city several times during the 1970s, traveling from Warsaw (where I was living) and seeking relief from the stupefying drabness of Soviet-imposed communism.
I returned two years ago to find one of the most vibrant cities on the planet. I was only there for six days and wished it had been six weeks. Great museums, parks, cafes, restaurants, and cultural events. Berlin Babylon, indeed!
Nelson, New Zealand
If I were to pick a place to spend a Northern Hemisphere winter, this would be it. It’s a pleasantly small (50,000) city nestled on the eastern shores of Tasman Bay, at the top of the country’s South Island.
The setting is picturesque, the people friendly, the cost not too dear – plus you have access to some of the world’s most striking landscapes. Not to mention millions of sheep.
I visited Luang Prabang in January 2020 and vowed I would return to see more of the country.
Laos remains relatively untouched by the region’s rush to modernity, maintaining a countryside tranquility reminiscent of Bhutan. My guide suggested that next time we make our way by boat further up the Mekong, bringing bikes along for shore excursions. Count me in.
Lake District, Chile
Not to be confused with England’s Lake District, Chile’s terrain is much more dramatic, punctuated by Andean peaks, including the odd active volcano.
You can swing between Chile and Argentina by boat and bus – there are great places to stay on both sides of the border. And the wine from either country is fantastic.
I visited this south-central African nation in 2018, primarily to view Victoria Falls. It was the dry season; I now want to go back in the wet.
But it is not just about seeing the Falls at full force; we had just enough of a taste of the wildlife to wish to return. After visiting Namibia, Rwanda, and South Africa on the same trip, a return to Africa is high on our agenda.
In 1993 I mysteriously received two airline tickets from Air Canada allowing me to fly anywhere in the world – gratis, as long as I did so within 90 days.
Never one to look a gift 747 in the cargo hold, but lacking vacation time, my wife and I flew to Tel Aviv and spent six whirlwind days in the Old City of Jerusalem, visited the West Bank, Masada, the Dead Sea, and the Negev desert.
It was a fascinating taste of the place, but left us wanting more: experiencing Tel Aviv and the country’s north, including the Galilee region. COVID-willing, our entire family will be heading there in December. We plan to visit Jordan as well.
I first visited this Polish city in 1971 while driving from England to Moscow; I spent most of a summer there in 1973; and visited again several times in 1977, when I was a correspondent based in Warsaw.
By some miracle Krakow was left largely untouched by the two World Wars and has retained much of its Medieval charm.
The old city center, with its Rynek Glówny (market square) and St. Mary’s Basilica, a 14th-century Gothic church, is postcard-worthy. The city’s ancient Wawel Castle, seat of power for Poland’s kings, is also a must.
So that’s my list of seven places I’d love to return to linger longer. We may still be hunkered down due to COVID, but we can dream.
Robert Waite has been writing on travel for more than 50 years. He currently teaches at Seneca College in Toronto and is Managing Partner at Waite + Co., a communications consulting firm with offices in Boston, Ottawa and Toronto.
For further reading:
Read Robert Waite’s post on Luang Prabang, Laos.
And as I write this, today is Mardi Gras. While parades have been cancelled and bars are closed in New Orleans, you might want to check out my experiences tossing out beads from a float in a past parade.
Great list, Clark. Would love to hear what places would be on your list.
Clark Norton Replies:
Great idea, Steve. Look for it in another post soon!