I’m bored. The province of Ontario is finally looking at a gradual re-opening of the economy, but the process is going to be a slow one. This is surely appropriate, but it unfortunately means that my beloved hobby of travel planning is still on hold since I don’t know when I will be going anywhere! Instead, I’ve been attempting to satisfy my wanderlust by organizing old photos and reminiscing on past trips. Over the month of April, I joined in on the #AlphabetAdventures challenge on Twitter and actually managed to get through 25 out of 26 letters. Inspired by An Orcadian Abroad who wrote a similar post a few weeks ago, I promised that I would create a dedicated blog post to summarize my challenge, so here it is.
A is for Amsterdam, Netherlands
I’ve only had the opportunity to visit Amsterdam for a short time, literally about 12 hours in total, but my brief glimpse of this Dutch capital city was still pretty fun. I wrote about the experience of using my layovers as a way to see the city, and noted that this is quite easy to do in Amsterdam as the city centre is only a quick train ride away from the airport. One day, I hope to go back to the Netherlands for a proper trip.
Read more: How to spend a daytime layover in Amsterdam
B is for Barcelona, Spain
Ah, Barcelona, such a beautiful place. This was the first European city I ever visited, and what a great way it was to inspire my love of travel. Barcelona is an incredible city for art connoisseurs, especially with all its innovative and sometimes bizarre architecture created by Antoni Gaudi. Spain, and Catalonia in particular, is high up on my list of places I’d like to revisit one day.
Read more: Soaking up the sights in Spain
C is for Cusco, Peru
Peru is the first and only South American country I’ve ever visited, with Cusco being one of my favourite places that we saw. The altitude was brutal, but it is such a fascinating little city with so much history. Also, the food was amazing and very interesting – roasted guinea pig, anyone? I’m not sure that my body could tolerate repeated travels back to this part of the world, but I am so glad that I have had the chance to go at least once.
Read more: A day in Inkaredible Cusco
D is for Da Nang, Vietnam
We had only a brief interlude in Da Nang en route between Hoi An and Hanoi, so our exploration of this relatively large Vietnamese city was limited to a visit up the Marble Mountains. I was surprised by how much I actually enjoyed the visit, as there was quite a bit to see and we easily kept ourselves occupied for a couple hours.
Read more: Visiting the Marble Mountains, Da Nang
E is for the Equator, Uganda
This was our final stop in Uganda on our way to the airport after an eventful several days on safari and gorilla trekking. In Uganda, the Equator is located in Kayabwe, about 72 kilometres from Kampala, the capital city. We had our photo op standing on the Equator line and ate one last traditional Ugandan meal at a roadside diner here as well. Just a cool little travel memory.
F is for Florence, Italy
We spent one day in Florence on a day trip from Rome, where we were basing ourselves during our trip in Italy. We managed to fit in several activities that one day, including a visit to Florence Cathedral and a climb up the bell tower. This is of course another amazing city for art lovers, featuring the renowned Uffizi Gallery and the Galleria dell’Accademia, which houses Michaelangelo’s David.
G is for Girona, Spain
Girona was another short stop, taken on my way back from Costa Brava to Barcelona. We took a walk down the riverside and enjoyed a delicious gelato break here, at a place owned by accomplished pastry chef Jordi Roca, who also runs a three Michelin star restaurant in town called El Celler de Can Roca. Looks like I’ll have to put Girona on my future travel wish list simply to give its food scene some proper attention.
H is for Ho Chi Minh City/Hoi An/Hanoi, Vietnam
This one is a triple hitter, in order to feature the three major destinations I visited in Vietnam. We started our trip down south in bustling and modern Ho Chi Minh City, followed by a couple days in quaint and historic Hoi An, and ending off in the northern capital, Hanoi. Each part of Vietnam has its own special attractions and cuisine, and we thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity to cross the length of the country to explore it. I will certainly have to go back one day to see more of the places in between.
Read more: Travelling around Vietnam
I is for Insadong, Seoul, South Korea
It took me a while to come up with Insadong as a destination for letter “I” (one day, I need to go to Iceland). This is a hip, artsy district in Seoul, South Korea where you can wander through small streets and alleys to find plenty of modern art galleries and tea shops. At one time, it was the largest market for antiques and artworks in Korea. When we strolled through, we stopped at Bukchon Sonmandu for dumplings and then tea at Dawon Traditional Tea Garden.
Read more: A cool break in South Korea
J and K are for Kyoto, Japan
I guess I kind of cheated on this one by combining two letters. Kyoto was the first city we visited in Japan, where we spent five days seeing most of the popular tourist attractions. Highlights included a walk through the very crowded Arashiyama bamboo forest, feeding baby macaques at the monkey park, attending a traditional tea ceremony, and watching Gion Odori, the annual autumn Meiko and Geiko dance performance. Also, the food! 🤤
Read more: A jaunt in Japan: Kyoto and Osaka
L is for Luang Prabang, Laos
Lovely Luang Prabang, Laos. There’s an alliteration for you. Luang Prabang was my favourite place in Laos, a sleepy town situated along the Nam Ou River. Over the course of our 2.5 days there, we went on a walking tour through town, swam under the Kuang Si Waterfalls, and attended a fun cooking class with Tamarind Restaurant. I probably could have spent a few extra days to enjoy it more thoroughly, something to consider if I ever return to Laos.
Read more: A couple lovely days in Luang Prabang
M is for Montreal, Canada
Montreal was a mini break that we took last Victoria Day long weekend. Despite the city being only a five hour train ride away from Toronto, I had actually never visited before. We enjoyed staying in the Old Montreal area and spending a couple days exploring the city, taste testing its three major food groups: poutine, bagels, and smoked meat. I could do with a Schwartz’s Deli sandwich just about now.
Read more: A delicious weekend in Montreal
N is for New York City, USA
I love New York City. The last time I was there was just before Christmas in 2017 for about a week. We ate a lot, with our favourite meals at Tonoshi Sushi and the pizza place down the block from our hotel. We were hoping to return to the city for a long weekend this summer, but that is unlikely to happen now, so we will have to plan for next year instead. I’ll be dreaming about my next New York slice. 🍕
Read more: Winter break in New York City
O is for O’ahu, Hawaii, USA
Here’s another place I wish I could be again soon. O’ahu is the most populated and touristed of the seven Hawaiian islands, with so much gorgeous scenery. My trip was way too short, especially given the long journey it required. In the few days I was there, highlights included lounging on Waikiki beach, swimming in Hanauma Bay, and hiking up Diamond Head. I’d definitely like to return to Hawaii one day with Mr. Chuckles, perhaps to Maui or Big Island as well.
Read more: Aloha! Sunny days in O’ahu Hawaii
P is for Pompei, Italy
We couldn’t miss out on Pompei when we were in Italy. It is a short trip from Rome, so we joined a tour with City Wonders to check it out. It was neat to see and learn about the ruins, but my personal favourite moment was walking up to the top of Mount Vesuvius. Interestingly, Mount Vesuvius remains an active volcano regarded as one of the most dangerous in the world, due to its surrounding population of over 600,000 people residing in the ‘danger zone’ and 3 million living near enough to be affected. Scary stuff.
Q is for Quebec City, Canada
I haven’t written a post about Quebec City on the blog, as this trip took place quite a few years ago and I captured only a handful of mediocre photos. I visited for a few days to attend a conference in 2014 and stayed near Old Quebec, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is the most preserved fortified town found north of Mexico. It looks a lot more European than old Montreal, and at times I even felt like I was walking through a movie set because it was so different from what I was used to seeing in North America. The problem is that it gets really cold out here so I think future trips for me would need to happen in spring or summer.
R is for Rome, Italy
Back to Italy again, this time to the Eternal City of Rome. This was the first trip to Europe that I took with Mr. Chuckles and we had a jam packed itinerary during our week there. We based ourselves in the Centro Storico area, trekking around the city to see as many sights as possible. We particularly enjoyed our time at the Vatican and the Eating Europe food tour in Trastevere.
Read more: A week around the Eternal City: Rome, Italy
S is for Siem Reap, Cambodia
We loved Cambodia. The people here were the nicest we have ever met on our travels and the sights around Siem Reap were incredible. The Angkor complex was mandatory viewing, but I’m glad we also went on some non-temple excursions such as our swim under Kulen Waterfall, sunset cruise on Tonle Sap, countryside cooking class, and Phare Circus.
Read more: Travelling around Siem Reap
T is for Tokyo, Japan
I had a few choices available for “T”, including my home city of Toronto, but I decided to go international with one of my favourite cities ever, Tokyo. I have surprisingly few photos of Tokyo itself despite having explored the city quite thoroughly during our week there, but I have lots of food pictures. Tells you something about what I was focused on during my trip to Japan!
Read more: A jaunt in Japan: Tokyo
U is for Uganda
I was trying to stick with cities as I went through the alphabet, but could only come up with the entire country of Uganda for “U”. I started my trip there in the capital city Kampala, after which we headed 387 kilometres east to Queen Elizabeth National Park for safari and then southward to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest to see gorillas! This country is so beautiful and worth visiting for anyone who has the opportunity to go.
Read more: Uganda see these gorillas
V is for Vancouver, Canada
As you know from my recent post, I lived in Vancouver for four years until 2013 and although I was on a budget the entire time, was able to get out enough to experience the city’s fantastic outdoor amenities. I’m hoping to make some more memories here soon, once it is safe enough to travel domestically at least.
W is for Whistler, Canada
Whistler is a popular day trip from Vancouver, and yet another top quality outdoor spot in British Columbia. Not just for ski bunnies, it is worth seeing in the summer months too. In fact, I visited Whistler more times in the warm season than in winter since I am neither a skier nor snowboarder anyway. There are some good hiking trails and the scenic drive up on the Sea to Sky Highway is worthwhile on its own.
X is for “Xin Chao” in Vietnamese
Finding an “X” destination is near impossible unless you’ve been to China, so I had to cheat on this one with Xin chao which means “Hello” in Vietnamese. This is just another excuse to highlight my favourite of the Southeast Asian countries I’ve visited so far. Vietnam was absolutely fantastic for its history, nature, and of course, its food. I need to go back there!
Y is for Yoho National Park, British Columbia, Canada
I don’t think many non-Canadians know about Yoho National Park. It is just across the Alberta/British Columbia border only a little more than a one hour drive from Banff National Park, where I also visited during my western Canada hiking trip a couple years ago. The hiking was amazing at Yoho, especially the Skyline Trail that took us up to the moraine field of Emerald Glacier. It is less crowded with tourists than neighbouring Banff, so you can really have a secluded experience with nature here.
Read more: Majestic mountains in western Canada
Z is for Zanzibar, Tanzania
I’ve made it to the end of the alphabet, via Africa. “Z” is for Zanzibar, where I had a short stay to start off my first trip to Tanzania back in 2016. Beyond its appeal as a seaside destination, I found Zanzibar to be culturally interesting as well. After swimming in a lagoon, petting giant tortoises on Changuu Island, and going on a spice tour, we also had a great time exploring Stone Town. This area of Zanzibar City is of prominent historical and artistic importance, with its architecture dating back to the 19th century and reflecting the diverse influences underlying Swahili culture – a mix of Arab, Persian, Indian, and European elements. Go to Zanzibar, you won’t regret it.
Read more: Zipping around Zanzibar
So there you have it…now I know my ABCs, next time won’t you sing (travel) with me!