It’s the first week of November. Here in Vancouver, we’ve been spoiled with sunny skies and highs of 14 Celsius/ 57 Fahrenheit as recently as last weekend.
The foiliage and Fall colours have been amazing. The leaves are still beautiful, but they’ve been twirling their way downward with greater frequency with each passing day.
Then, this Thursday, people in some areas of Metro Vancouver woke up to snow. There’s been none in our area but, enroute to the office yesterday, I saw dustings of the white stuff in more than a few neighbourhoods. This is throwing some people for a loop, particularly since we endured an actual winter for the first time in decades last year. Vancouver’s snow is supposed to fall primarily (solely, some might say) on the nearby mountaintops. Not here in the city.
When winter approaches …
… the travellers among us start planning! The change in weather makes it easy to start dreaming of smooth sands, azure waters, sunny skies and more. To my southern hemisphere readers, bear with me – and enjoy your sunshine!
Not all travel planning, of course, involves beaches – and not everyone lands on the same ideals for their journeys.
In fact, he United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) recently revealed the world’s fastest growing tourist destinations for the first half of 2017.
Not necessarily the most popular, but the fastest growing
Here’s the list, with percentages indicating levels of year-over-year growth.
- Palestine: up 57.8%
- Egypt: up 51%
- Northern Mariana Islands (east of the Philippines; northeast of Guam): up 37.3%
- Iceland: up by 34.9%
- Tunisia: up by 32.5%
- Vietnam: up by 31.2%
- Uruguay: up by 30.2%
- Nicaragua: up by 28.4%
- Mongolia: up by 28.3%
- Israel: up by 25.1%
What makes travel special for you?
You may like the certainty that comes with visiting a given country or climate time and time again; there’s a lot to be said for that. For others, the opportunity to explore new locales with each airplane ticket is important and gratifying.
I’ve been fortunate enough to travel within Canada and also visit a few other countries this year: Belgium, Cuba, England, Germany, Hungary and the US. Each trip was memorable, for different reasons. While readers have already seen some of my photos from some of these locales, there are more to follow! Whether it was Berlin, Bruges, Budapest, Havana, Kelowna, London, Manchester, New Orleans, Potsdam, Toronto, Ottawa … I have wonderful memories.
The travel that most surprised me, however, was right here in my own backyard. That’s relatively speaking, of course, for I’m talking about the province of Newfoundland. I live on Canada’s Pacific coast, and Newfoundland is on the Atlantic coast. We’re talking about a distance of 7,453 kilometers or 3,121 miles. St. John’s, the capital city, is closer to London, England than it is to Vancouver.
Newfoundland captured my interest – and my heart. Coming from BC, where we’re justifiably proud of our natural environment. Newfoundland is equally stunning. It’s rugged and it’s wild. I saw a couple of beautifully manicured gardens (locals told me that Newfoundland moves from Winter to Summer, with not much of a Spring), but many more fields of windblown wildflowers.
Spend a sunrise atop Telegraph Hill as I did this summer, and you can’t help but be awed. The island is home to Cape Spear, the easternmost point in North America. It’s also home to hilly St. John’s, founded in 1583 and the oldest city in North America.
One night, complete with butterfly net, I took part in a puffin patrol. Each August, the young ones are abandoned by their parents when it’s time to migrate to sea. The tiny pufflings navigate by the moon and the stars. Since they can be distracted by house and car lights, people of all ages descend in the darkness to temporarily tuck them into crates. I snagged no puffins that night, but did help release a number out on the waters the next day – even as seagulls were swooping low around our boat, hoping to snag a tender morsel for a mid-day meal.
Over the course of a few days, I was on boats and staring at rugged cliffs, majestic whales and all manner of seabirds. Even polar bears have been spotted in northern areas of the province.
This visit was too late in the season for icebergs, but they are a fact of life in the long winters. It’s never too early or too late, though, for a chilled bottle of iceberg beer crafted in Quidi Vidi.
Beer or no beer, I found the majority of the locals I met to be ridiculously friendly – straightforward and very kind. In conversation, the Newfies could tell I was “from away”, but didn’t let that feeling last.
What do you look for in travel?
Budget aside, what inspires you to choose a particular location for travel … and what countries would make it on to your personal must visit list? All this, of course, leads to my latest Weekend Poll:
What inspires you to choose your travel destinations?