As a newcomer to travel blogging, I have spent much of the past year reading other travel blogs, joining in on Twitter chats, improving (hopefully) my photography skills and traveling. When I read about the Travel Bloggers Whispers Blogger Challenge, organized by Stephanie Fox, I couldn't resist jumping in with both feet and giving it a go. (You can find Stephanie's Travel Whispers here.)
Each Travel Whispers blog post can be found by clicking the link through to the next blogger at the bottom of the post, and so on, so take the time to read through a few – you might find some exciting new bloggers to follow and some great travel ideas for the future! You can also find them across Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #TravelWhispers.
For the challenge, I have to answer the following ten questions. I thought it would be a piece of cake until I began to look through my travel photos from this year (they number in the thousands). It was tough to choose favorites but I've done my best to be honest in my answers.
1. If you had to move to a country that you’ve NEVER been to, and live there for ten years, where would you go?
This is a tough question. There are a number of countries I would love to visit but ten years is a long time. The front runners of these are Ireland and France, the countries of my heritage. Ireland would be lovely and does have the advantage of being an English speaking country but the image of roaming the French countryside, visiting historic and cultural sites is enchanting, plus I've never been to Disneyland Paris. Yes, I think France would be my choice. Better brush up on my schoolhouse French!
|Chef Remi - Les Chefs du France - Epcot World Showcase|
2. If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?
The JW Marriott Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada. The service is wonderful, the scenery is lovely, and you are close to both the bright lights of the Las Vegas Strip and the magnificent vistas of Red Rock Canyon. After a day of adventuring, we love to relax at Spa Aquae, My husband loves the outdoor hydrotherapy circuit pool but my favorite is the warm float pool in the women's ritual room (there is one for the men as well).
|Hubby catching up on his reading on our private patio.|
3. If you could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever more, which would you choose?
French (ok, this may have influenced my earlier choice of country). Seriously, what can be wrong with a cuisine that features both wine and cheese? Add a little foie gras and a baguette and you have a perfect picnic lunch. With all of the distinct regional cuisines, I don't think I could ever run out of choices. And I haven't even mentioned dessert. Creme brulee, macaron, eclair, mille-feuille...I can taste them all now.
|Mother's Day creme brulee - Les Chefs du France - Epcot World Showcase|
4. Who has given you ‘holiday envy’ this year, and how?
Another tough question. I have been blessed with the opportunity to travel with my family this year, visiting National Parks across the U.S. during their 100th Anniversary along the way. I guess I would have to say my holiday envy would be of friends and family who visited Italy and The Vatican this year, Their photos were amazing and reminded me of why this spot is on my bucket list. Hearing the Pope say mass in St. Peter's Square would be an absolute highlight for me,
|St. Peter's Basilica (from their website)|
5. If you had to look at the same sunrise or the same sunset every day, where in the world would you never get bored of seeing? Please don’t say sitting outside Cafe Mambo in Ibiza.
My favorite sunsets are in the desert, the colors are wonderful against the variety of tundra, but I would have to say my favorite is the sunset over Joshua Tree National Park in Southern California. You can see the sunset in many different spots throughout the park, each one holding its own charm.
|Sunset at Joshua Tree National Park|
6. If you were taking a ‘staycation’ in your hometown, where would it be and what would you recommend others to do?
I'm from Canada and this year we are celebrating our country's 150th birthday so I'd love to answer Canada from coast to coast to coast but that is a little broad. I'm fortunate to live in southern Alberta where we are close to the mountains, prairies and four of Alberta's UNESCO World Heritage Sites (the fifth is further north, near the capital city of Edmonton). The Canadian Rocky Mountain Parks, and Banff National Park, in particular, is a must-do for visitors to our area and only a short hour and a bit drive from Calgary. The scenery is breathtaking and there are loads of hiking areas. (A bonus for 2017 visitors is free admission to celebrate Canada's milestone birthday.) To the east of the city, you can visit the Canadian Badlands and the world famous Royal Tyrrell Museum of Palaeontology. And if your group includes dinosaur fans (young or old) a drive further east will bring you to Dinosaur Provincial Park where you can join in on activities that include fossil hunting. To the south of Calgary is another of the sites; Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump. Here you can learn about Alberta's aboriginal peoples and how they lived. Rounding out the sites is Waterton Glacier International Peace Park. This beautiful park is shared between Alberta and Montana. Hmmm...I think I need to plan a staycation in the near future!
|Hoodoos at Banff National Park|
7. Describe your perfect travel day of the year?
My perfect travel day, how can I choose just one? There are a couple of particular favorites, the first is driving along the Gulf Coast. Not only is the drive beautiful itself but the stops along the way are amazing. We loved seeing the different architecture and historic sites as we visited Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana. My other favorite is driving down the Pacific Coast Highway. Another shoreline drive but so different than the Gulf Coast. I love the quirky and quaint shops that line the old highway at the southern end.
|Waves crashing along the shoreline - Pacific Coast Highway|
8. What have you ticked off your bucket list in 2016?
Digging for diamonds at Crater of Diamonds State Park in Arkansas, visiting Sutter's Mill, where the California Gold Rush started and exploring Virginia City, Nevada where Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) began his writing career.
|The old schoolhouse at Virginia City, Nevada|
9. What is top of your travel bucket list for 2017?
Our big bucket list item this year is to drive across Canada for Canada's 150th birthday. Since we homeschool our grandson, it will be a wonderful opportunity for him to learn about our great country.
10. Share your favorite Instagram photo of 2016?
Looking through my Instagram photos I realize a) I have traveled a lot this year and b) I have many favorite photos. I chose this one taken in New Orleans during lunch at Bubba Gump's. I love the color of the building and it reminds me of the fun we had exploring the French Quarter during our visit.