We are certifiable Europhiles. We’ve vacationed in Europe five times now and have loved every visit. We’d go back every year if that were possible, and among our pipe dreams are spending a year in Paris, London, or both. On our first trip in 2001 we visited Amsterdam and Paris and so loved both cities we decreed that on every subsequent trip our itineraries would include one of those two cities. A few years later we visited Rome and added the Eternal City to our list.

But the “yet to see” list is still pretty respectable. And unlike my most recent blogs this list is a little more stable and predictable.

  • Santorini, Greece – we have a built-in passion for sea and sun, and the island of Santorini promises an abundance of each. Not to mention we love Eastern Mediterranean cuisine. Like Venice, Santorini seems to be the kind of place where bad pictures simply aren’t possible. I keep thinking now would be a great time to visit for good prices (hopefully bypassing any unrest and bringing the locals much needed hard currency) but in my price surfing Santorini looks to be somewhat immune to the mainland’s economic hardships.
  • Ireland, Scotland, Isle of Man – many people have Scotland and the Emerald Isle on their wishlists, but the Isle of Man? If you didn’t know it about me, I am an aspiring author, complete with several full and complete novels on my shelf, and the Isle of Man (a nifty looking sleepy little island in the middle of the Irish Sea) figured prominently in my first complete book. Ever since my research back in the mid ’90s I’ve wanted to see it firsthand. So far as Ireland, ask any Catholic who grew up in South Mississippi and they’ll tell you about the special connection with Ireland. When we go, seeing the countryside by rental car and staying in a B&B are must-dos.
  • Eastern Europe: Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Bulgaria, Romania – Prague will be our home base for an extended tour of Eastern Europe when we go (at least that’s the plan). Czech beer is famous and I rarely pass up a chance to sample a local brew. Slovakia is the most recent entrant: I saw the presentation of a Slovak economic development rep a few months ago and he did a great job of convincing me the castles, the countryside, and the people deserve a visit. And who knows, it might just be the next travel jewel waiting for me to discover before the hoards. Why Poland, you ask? Well sausage and beer would be reason enough, but Pope John Paul II’s incredibly moving pilgrimage to Auschwitz has left me with a compelling desire for me to pay my respects there as well. Finally, Romania: I want to see Transylvania firsthand. I’m not really sure why, though I have read Bram Stoker.
  • Istanbul – had you asked me just five years ago if I would have liked to go to Istanbul, I would have answered “doubtfully” pretty quickly. But then I discovered Turkish cuisine and the incredible warmth of Turkish people. And when Anthony Bourdain visited the city at the continental line between Europe and Asia, I was convinced. Sometimes I literally crave doner kabob and baklava. Plus I aspire to wheel and deal for silver jewelry at the grand bazaar.
  • Balkans: Dubrovnik Croatia, Sarajevo, Montenegro – on our European vacation in 2004 we took the Chunnel from Paris to London and whilst we enjoyed the highly anticlimactic darkness I read an article on the mountainous and seaside country of Montenegro, plus some business colleagues of mine told me about their splendid holidays there…enough to put it on my list. A coworker years ago once told me his two most favorite cities (like Amsterdam and Paris for us) were Paris and Sarajevo, the latter he described as “incredibly beautiful”; unfortunately they’ve had a pretty significant war since then, but the optimist in me says that surely some of the beauty still shines through, if not in the buildings then perhaps the people. And looking at just a few pictures of Dubrovnik should merit its entry to anyone’s list.
  • Scandinavia: Norway, Sweden – mountains, sea, fjords, natural beauty…that should be enough for anyone, but I also want to see the northern lights from there. Oh, and I have a pretty good proportion of Norwegian blood in me.
  • Lisbon, Madrid – perpetual entries on my list, their time is coming soon. All I’ve read and seen of Lisbon is beautiful and the Portuguese people I’ve met have been universally warm, gracious, and enthusiastic about their homeland. When it comes to Madrid there’s tapas, the Prado, and flamenco to warm my Spanish (ok, Catalan, but close enough) blood.

Coming up in my FINAL travel wishlist blog, everywhere else in the world!