Why We Travel: Establishing Our Travel Priorities

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For the past few weeks, Hubby and I have been researching where we will go on our next travel adventure. We’ve narrowed it down to two options: Africa, or Croatia and Slovenia. Or both, but not at the same time. In fact we’ve been discussing travel in general ever since we returned from Italy last October. And as a result of some of the issues we had on that trip, particularly with the huge crowds in the cities, we’ve been discussing our travel priorities. What we want, and what we don’t want out of our travel from now on. In other words, we’re trying to nail down why we travel in the first place.

The view from our plane as we flew from El Calafate to Bariloche in Argentina. Blue sky, blue water, and the plane's wing and engine.
Flying over Patagonia, Argentina in 2017

“So why do we travel?” we’ve been asking ourselves. For fun, and for adventure, of course. To see those parts of the world we’ve always wanted to see, to experience new places, and meet new people, to learn about other cultures, try new food, and find out how the rest of the world ticks. We don’t travel specifically to visit family or friends. Sure, we fly or drive down east to visit family, and catch up with old friends while we’re there, and while that involves “travelling” it’s not really “travel”, is it? Or at least it doesn’t conform to our definition of travel. And as much as we love our camping trips, wilderness canoe adventures, and ski holidays, we don’t consider them travel either. Because for us travel means seeing new sights.

Like our trip to South America in 2017 when we saw and learned all kinds of new things. We had lots of adventures on that trip: on the hiking trails in Patagonia, on narrow, bumpy, gravel roads in northern Argentina, in a locked hotel courtyard at midnight when we came close to scaling a brick wall to get to our airport taxi idling on the street outside.

Some of our adventures were in restaurants. I’m thinking of our first meal in Buenos Aires when we arrived at the restaurant unfashionably early at 7:50, sat alone and unwelcomed in an empty restaurant until the stroke of eight o’clock, when the place filled up, the friendly waiters bustled, and chatted, and we had a lovely time and a great meal. Lesson learned. In Argentina, never go to dinner before eight. And in Salta, we learned, eight o’clock stretched to nine. So we implemented an early evening snack routine to be able to last to dinner time without keeling over. Ha. Then came Peru, where we learned many things including how lucky we are to have won the birth lottery. That trip was real travel to us. What my friend Wendy (from York) calls “proper travel.”

The sign for our hotel, Posada del Angel, in Salta, Argentina by the light of a full moon.
Our accommodation in the historic city of Salta, in northern Argentina, 2017 from which we almost had to effect a wall-scaling escape.

So, yeah, seeing new things and places, getting off the beaten track even if it is sometimes a bit iffy, and learning how the rest of the world lives, those are really important to us when we travel. And equally important is meeting new people: our hosts in B&B’s or small hotels, local people and other travellers on buses, in restaurants, over breakfast in our accommodation, wherever.

Hubby and I still speak fondly of the young doctor from Seattle, with whom we shared a day-long bus ride from Puno to Cusco in Peru. A Muslim originally from Iran, with a sister who lives in Montreal, this young doctor and Hubby talked all day about politics, the Canadian and American healthcare systems, and how wonderful Peru was. During one stop, we were swarmed by street vendors as we exited the bus, and a few minutes later Mohammad boarded the bus again carrying about twenty handmade necklaces. A fellow passenger chivied him, “Mohammad, they saw you coming.” And he shrugged and replied, smiling, “So every nurse on my floor in the hospital will receive a necklace from Peru. Ten dollars to me means little, but much more to the lady who sold me these.” What a lovely man.

In Italy, last fall, after almost two weeks on the road, we couldn’t put our finger on what was lacking in our trip. Then it dawned on us, we were lonely; we’d found no one to talk to. Many of our hosts spoke little to no English. We had a few very friendly pseudo-conversations consisting of smiles, nods, a few words, and a lot of hand gestures. But no fellow travellers in our B&B accommodation, or sitting next to us in a restaurant, seemed interested in chatting over a second cup of coffee or glass of wine.

Until we reached the Amalfi coast. On our first morning in Agerola, we met Miguel and Marie, a young couple from Honduras. We ate breakfast with them each morning after that, and chatted over dinner on two evenings. On the second evening, we invited an American teacher and a young German girl, who were staying at the local hostel and had been in the restaurant the night before, to join us. We had a rousing good time, even though Hubby and I were at least twenty years older than everyone else at the table. The couple on the right, below, are Theresa and Darryl from southern Ontario. They were sitting next to us in a sidewalk café one night in Rome. We started chatting and ended up having a great evening with them. Such lovely people, and so much fun.

We’ve met people all over the world, had wonderful conversations, swapped travel stories, and learned about their lives, their struggles, and their political views. Some we travelled with for a few days on a short tour, and with others we shared a meal or a cup of coffee. One of our most interesting conversations was last fall on our first night in Rome. The couple at the table next to us were from outside of Melbourne, Australia; they’ve been just about everywhere, and not only on vacation. They’re both union organizers who’ve worked in some of the poorest and most troubled areas of the world. Their stories were amazing, and Hubby enjoyed enough political discussion to last him the rest of our trip.

Some people we’ve encountered have had connections very close to home. Like the garage owner in Alaska who fixed a tire on our rental car, and whose wife is from Hainesville, New Brunswick, about ten miles up the road from my parents’ farm. And amazingly some of the people we’ve met might even be relatives. When we stayed in a cottage in Bantry, Ireland for a week, we developed a nightly “tradition” of stopping for a pint at a near-by pub that Hubby loved to call “our local.” Since County Kerry is Sullivan country, I of course filled the bartender in on my Sullivan ancestors. And one night, when the man grinning at me below, weaved his way up to the bar, the bartender quipped, “Here comes one of yer coosins, now.” Ha.

Me in a pub in Bantry, Ireland chatting with a possible Sullivan cousin.
Chatting with a Sullivan “cousin” in Bantry, Ireland, 2011

You know, deciding what we want is only part of establishing our travel priorities. It’s just as important to know what we don’t want. We don’t want to lie on a beach. We both love the ocean, and love to swim in the ocean, but beach, and beach only, holidays do not interest us. Resorts or all-inclusive anything doesn’t interest us. Similarly we are not interested in taking a cruise. I’ve written about our cruise aversion on the blog before. Yes, I know that the boats are beautiful, the food good, the accommodation top notch, “five star” as a friend said to us. But five-star accommodation is not why we travel.

Similarly, we have limited patience with guided tours. In Rome last year we did not take a guided tour of the Vatican or of the Colosseum. We did hire a private guide for a tour of the city on our first day there. We did take a guided walking tour of Florence and of Venice. But that was it for three weeks. The rest of the time we were content to hike and walk, or drive, and stop when we chose. Or read about something and then go look at it. We don’t feel the need to see every historical landmark or visit every museum or gallery, no matter how famous.

Instead we often choose our trip highlights for very personal reasons. Like our decision to visit Tralee, Ireland where my Sullivan ancestors embarked from in 1819. In Wellington, New Zealand I had to visit Katherine Mansfield’s birthplace, and in Haworth, Yorkshire, the Brontë Parsonage Museum. In Paris, I wanted to see Hemingway’s apartment and some of his old haunts, and visit the flea markets or Marché aux Puces, which I’d first read about in Anne Tyler’s novel The Accidental Tourist. 

On a red Vespa in Rome in October 2018. Wearing my black and white tee, black pants, and white Stan Smith sneakers.
When in Rome… well… you have to, don’t you?

Of course, everyone’s travel priorities are different. If stress-free relaxation is your priority, then a beach holiday with an all-inclusive deal will probably check all your boxes. If you have mobility issues, cruises are way easier than making your own way around an extended area, even if you have to miss out on the small villages in out-of-the-way places. And if you prefer high culture, opera, great art, and museums, then exploring lonely mountain-top plateaus will not suit you like it suits us. Everyone who travels should try to establish just what their priorities are before they leave home. Especially if you’ve never travelled with your companion before.

Several years ago, I visited London for a week with three women friends, and there were enough of us to be able to split up and do what we wanted with no hurt feelings. One day, two of my friends visited Kew Gardens, and having no interest in Kew, my friend Susan and I took the train to Cambridge. We all had a great day. Such was not the case a couple of years ago, when a friend and I found we had quite different priorities about how to spend our time.

I have another friend my age who is single and who has tried to find someone to travel with, to no avail. In the UK the last few years, she has booked a package tour, and then does her own thing for a few days on either side of the scheduled tour. That way she doesn’t travel completely alone, but can satiate her love for theatre, for instance, by staying on in London for several days. It’s a compromise that works for her.

Asleep on a bus from Puno to Cusco, Peru. Beautiful landscape and blue sky out the window.
Suz snoozes despite the spectacular scenery

Hubby and I have realigned our own travel priorities slightly since our experience in Italy last year. We’ve decided that avoiding really big crowds, is a very big priority. The relief which we felt when we left Florence, beautiful as it is, and headed into the hills on our way to Urbino cannot be overstated. As a result, we began to discuss our least favourite travel experiences. With the exception of Hell Hole Hotel in Goomalling, Australia, a story which I related to you before, most of our cringey experiences involved big, crowded cities.

And so we’ve decided to stroke several cities off our list for that reason. They will be sacrificed in favour of a slower pace. More chance to breath, and just be, wherever we are. And while we often consult other travellers for advice or suggestions, I’m afraid my friends, we won’t listen to you when (and if) you say, “Oh, Sue, you can’t go to blank and not see blank.” “Yes… we can,” I’ll reply, with a smile, “And we will.”

I guess the only reason for travel that I haven’t discussed is perhaps the most important one to us. Extended travel to new and interesting places, seeing sights we’ve always wanted to see, learning new ways, and meeting new people adds richness to the fabric of our lives. The places we’ve seen and the people we’ve met form part of our shared history as a couple. And as my friend Frances said when we discussed our ideas about travel in an e-mail exchange the other day… this shared history helps us forge stronger connections as a couple. And that, my friends, is the coolest thing of all.

Hubby and I know that as the years pass we will have to modify, even more, where we go and how we see what we see when we travel. We’ve been thinking about options. We’re still talking about that. We realize we’ll have to compromise on some things. But we both agree that travel enriches our lives so much that compromise is vastly preferable to giving up on travel altogether.

 

 

Now it’s your turn my fellow travellers. What are your priorities when it comes time to hit the road (or the airport) with your suitcase packed? Any thoughts on that?

 

Linking up with Over the Moon and #ShareAllLinkUp

 

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60 thoughts on “Why We Travel: Establishing Our Travel Priorities”

  1. So many different reasons for travelling, aren’t there? And so many fellow travellers who want to tell us what we MUST see. . . I appreciate the way you’re able to articulate what it is you want out of your own travel without denigrating anyone else’s choices.
    The new face of the blog is very attractive! Well done! I love the black, gold, and white — and the contrast between fonts for “high heels” and “Wilderness” is perfect.
    Just a note: I went to the old site first and there’s nothing there to indicate you’ve moved. Only found out there was a new post via Facebook. . .

  2. LOVE the new site. So easy to scroll to previous posts to check on an idea. Only thing I miss is the font. It was so very personal to your site. As for the travel, we have been trying to figure out how to change as we get less mobile. We are however going on a ‘bucket list’ Panama canal cruise that starts in Florida and ends in Vancouver. Never gone for 21 days together, but we so enjoy seeing the new sights and countrysides I am sure we will be great. We use cruises as a chance to check out places we might like to go back to and it works rather well. I too am not a fan of crowded cities so we check out the little know routes as well. Keep up the fantastic work on the blog as there are so many of us who adore you. p.s. We have also met people on vacation from Guelph and we are in Fergus about 20 minutes away. Great fun.

  3. Arlene Angel-Blair

    Great new look Sue!! Love the font and the gold in “wilderness”. You make me think about what I might want out of travel.

  4. When we travel, it’s to experience a different life. We stay away from the crowds as well. Renting a car if brave is a must, it gets you to the backroads, and you meet the locals. I know that in some countries that would not be a good idea. The interesting people that pop into your life are what you remember. The idea of slow travel appeals. Soaking up the flavours of where you are, the people, the food…
    I like the new format.
    Ali

    1. You’re right about safety. We’re careful about where we drive. Bad roads don’t bother us, though. We’re talking about future trips and how we might choose three or four places and stay for longer periods of time, doing short day trips, or not. Just sitting in a cafe with a book appeals.

  5. Love the new look!
    I travel for so many of the same reasons you do, although I’m not ready to give up on cities. 🙂 For me, it’s all a matter of timing (Paris in January is sublime, Paris in August, not so much), and never going anywhere in Europe during cruise ship season.

  6. Great new look and my first comment. I travel to experience places I have read about. I travel alone and like your friend do a mixture of guided tours and time alone in the UK. I also meet up with friends who, lucky for me, live in the South of France. I find chatting to people that I get ideas for future travel, the list just gets longer!

    Like a Carol I haven’t given up on cities yet but rather travel in late October or November when the crowds tend to be more manageable.

    Maryann

    1. Friends in the south of France sounds wonderful! I love to visit places I’ve read about, and not just in guide books. Visiting places which are the setting of novels I’ve loved is wonderful.

  7. This new site is wonderful – much prefer the font and the whole look – well done as I know only too well how tricky it is to ‘move’!

    I almost envy your love of travel but it’s important to know what one likes and dislikes. I don’t like ‘travel’ as such, but I do like cities and crowds! We’re all different and that’s great!

    1. Thanks, Penny. The move has been much “bigger” than I realized it would be. Worth it, though, hopefully in the end. I agree it’s important to know what we like and dislike. Who says we all have to be the same, eh?

  8. Your new look is very attractive & clear to read . I’m glad you kept your original name too – it’s very you . Travel is so personal & there isn’t a right way to do it . It was always a big part of our lives for all the reasons you give in your post . Breathtaking views , wonderful architecture , different atmospheres , intriguing food , stretching ourselves & , most of all , talking to people & finding out about their lives . But , the crowds . I know everyone is entitled to see these places & it is selfish to think otherwise but most of the attractions of travel are not possible for us when shuffling along in a crowd . So now it’s the highlands of Scotland for us . I am enjoying exploring European cities with my sisters but we are avoiding the honeypots in high season . This year’s “ sisters tour “ is Valencia, Spain in late September & there will be lots of wandering around , with plenty of coffee stops & people watching – very few museums & no wild nightlife – not much wild nightlife when we were young to be honest !
    Right , let’s see if this works ?
    Wendy in York
    PS Thanks Brandon

    1. Ah… glad you’re back Wendy! I wish my sisters would travel with me. I imagine a family trip to various places in Ireland. If my Mum were young enough to go with us what fun that would be. Few museums and no wild nightlife… sounds like Stu and I. Although in Rome we sat beside a different couple in a different restaurant each of our four nights and had lovely conversations every time. That was fun.

  9. I like your new format (and have commented about it yesterday-it was new,but with the last post and my comment got lost),font,headline is perfect just as it is….
    I really hope to meet you and Hubby this or next (or next-next ) year and am looking forward to it
    Crowds,waiting for something….are not an option for me any more .Rumor has it that London is always full of tourists,but,for example, three years ago,in February,if you skipped “all the usual suspects”,there were lovely places to visit (little parks…..and I was alone for a while in Charles Dickens House……)
    Luckily,it is the same with Vienna,just skip St Stephens Cathedral (Hofburg,Schönbrunn,Graben and one or two streets around it) and it is beautiful
    I always wanted to “feel” the puls of the people and the way they live,not checking the “must see” dots
    Dottoressa

    1. I did see your comment yesterday, Dottoressa. I replied but the comments weren’t loading onto the page. Brandon is working on that. I will definitely be in touch about our Croatia adventure:)

  10. This a very smart new turn-out. Re travel: agree totally on the idea of setting your own priorities. I know exactly what I do not ever want to do and, apart from that, am fairly open to opportunities. So I won’t ever ski (heights, slippy, slidy, falling, speed) or go all-inclusive (don’t tell me what I want and who I want it with) and am not fussed about five-star. Going with friends can be very hit-or-miss but some of our best times have been spent with pals so it all depends. These days it tends to be just Mr Green and I and so far, we haven’t fled from each other in the night (near miss in Seoul). I do like cities and we are chatters but mostly we walk, read, sit, eat, drink, view, take a train or bus or boat. My idea of hell is an itinerary…this year I want a Greek island and no demands. Plus Berlin. Seems a fair compromise.

  11. I love the serendipitous events that make travel so great. In January, while in London (a good time to visit), my daughter and I were having dinner in a French restaurant prior to going to the ballet. The tables were mere inches apart so we ended up in conversation with an older (than me) mother and her daughter sitting next to us. They were funny and interesting so there was a lot of laughter (–the daughter even showed me a different way to eat moules-frites, too, as we had ordered the same entree). When they asked why we were visiting, I mentioned that I had grown up in the UK and my daughter had wanted me to show her various places. They asked where I had lived and I listed several places. Turns out they lived just up the road from a small village where I had lived. They wanted to invite us to visit them but we weren’t headed out that way. More’s the pity. As you said, Sue, it is all about the connections that travel affords us…as long as we can afford (fiscally and physically) to travel.

    PS–Bravo to you and Brandon on the new site.

    1. That would have been lovely to visit your new friends. We met people in Australia who stayed next to us in a condo, we met over drinks on the terrace, had dinner with them a couple of nights, and then visited them a few weeks later when we were in their part of the country.

  12. I had to clear my cache to follow you to your new location, but I’m delighted to have found you again. The new format looks great!

    My husband and I are fledgling travellers, with only a few big trips during the years we were raising four kids. Always wonderful to read about your adventures, as well as the experiences that are shared in the comments section. (We’re going to be in Paris at the end of August/beginning of September … I’m beginning to wonder if we should have chosen February instead!)

    1. Thanks, Denise. We found parts of Paris crowded when we were there in May. But other than the Eiffel Tower, not really too bad. Like Rome, if you stay away from certain areas you can find quiet parts to explore.

  13. The new look is a definite yes from me. The travel discussion is very timely as we are currently in Norway, from Aus. We usually travel in our spring so this is very different for us, and required quite a few wardrobe additions. May use them to visit eastern Canada one day! Mr M and I like to travel independently but connect with locals and fellow travellers along the way. We try to stay at least two nights in most places, and don’t push ourselves to see “everything”. Sometimes we just need some downtime, and sometimes some alone time. We often remind ourselves of how fortunate we are to be fit and healthy as we drag suitcases on and off trains, but that’s why we go to the gym and pool at home. So here’s to travel.

  14. Hello Sue,
    Glad that you left a message on your previous site so your blog could be found more easily. Love the black/white/gold but am not really enjoying the new font…perhaps feel it is a little too ‘ordinary and business-like’ of which your blog is neither. Travel is important to my husband and I for many of the reasons you list…we balance crowds and quiet locations. Crowds are usually there for the reason that there is something spectacular to see…I would not want to have missed the Sistine Chapel in the Vatican or the Armitage in St. Petersburg. Once we’ve had our fill of tourists then we seek the quiet spots to recharge our batteries. Cruises have been ideal for scouting out regions…we leave March 7th for two back-to-back cruises around Cape Horn from Buenos Aires all the way to San Diego, California. We have booked extra time at the beginning and at the end…it will be a beautiful, well-organized adventure we are very much looking forward to. We travel on smaller, more exclusive ships so we don’t arrive with 4,000 other people! We’ve travelled over the years on our own; with bus excursions; and also by cruise ship with many ship excursions….no matter where and how we have travelled all the various sights, sounds, smells, tastes and the people we have met always remain a most important and lingering memory of each and every travel adventure. Here’s to happy travels no matter how and where you adventure! Cheers, Alayne

    1. Thanks, Alayne. Yeah, I get it about the font. Maybe later down the road we might change it. But it’s easy to read and quite a few people commented that my old blog was difficult to read for different reasons. I must say I did not enjoy our day at he Vatican. So many people, including one couple who were having a big argument right the way through. We kept trying to get away from them but couldn’t move very far due to the crowd. We’re really looking forward to Croatia this fall.

    1. Thanks. Donna. It’s been a lot of work, mostly for Brandon, but even for me. Now I’m learning to use the new WP editor. Keeping it simple for a while, as I’m getting a teesny bit overwhelmed.

    2. LOL! I feel your pain. The bugs will work themselves out, and Brandon’s so helpful. He’ll make you videos and screen shot instructions. I keep all of mine in the same document I’ve named, Brenda’s How-To. Love the new look. I’ve only seen it from my phone but look forward to seeing it on the big screen. About your fonts… I think they’re perfect. Bravo to you and Brandon. Great job! xoxox, Brenda

      1. I’m feeling a bit overwhelmed. Getting used to Word Press, hoping that everything works out. Feeling excited. Making lists of what to do, questions to ask… good thing I love making lists. And it wouldn’t have been possible without you, Brenda. Thanks for so generously getting Brandon and me together. He is a gem:)

  15. Hi Sue
    New format vs the old format. The new is modern, clean, bright and easy to read. I did like your old header but I’m like that with change. In a week, I’ll be loving the change. 😉
    From experience I should never assume…where is your health & fitness and blogs you follow?
    Robin
    Ps…I do appreciate the hard work and time it took to change your blog. Kudos to you and Brandon.

    1. Hi Robin, All feedback is good. I folded the Health and Fitness category into Life. Mostly because I had too many categories and I don’t write posts that are strictly health or fitness all that often. Blogs I Follow… well… I let that go. I plan to continue to have links to blogs I like within relevant posts. I’m still evolving, so things may change again. But trying to just get used to the new Word Press editor at the moment. It’s not as easy to use as Blogger.

  16. My passion for travel started with hitchhiking Europe during the summer of love in 67! I took a travel hiatus raising my family, but resumed in a big way with month long stays in Italy, France & Spain after 2000. Sometimes in cities other times in the country! Sometimes alone, sometimes with family or friends (great/not so much). After falling in love with Florence in 2016, it has become my number one destination. I went initially to learn to paint and found an incredible, welcoming, & fun community centered on art, painting & music. And food! Hope this bliss & blessing never ends! Still exploring other cities & countries but Florence is number one! Avoiding the crowds is easy – go in late fall & early spring! Extended stays even better!

    1. How wonderful to go to Florence to learn to paint. Sounds heavenly. We had intended to be in Italy two weeks late than we ended up doing, but Hubby was strongly advised bu friends NOT to go so late. Wish we’d listened to our gut and gone after the crowds abated.

  17. New look is AWESOME! And I think reflects your “brand” very well – by which I just mean your voice and persona. Brava! As for travel? I travel so that life feels big enough.

    1. Thanks, Lisa. That was the idea. I wanted it to look modern without being glitzy, kind of fun without being too busy. I love that statement about travel making life feel “big enough.” Makes the world seem a lot less scary too.

  18. Just discovered your blog this morning so don’t know what the old format looks like, but this seems good. Anyhow, this post caught my eye as we are by a pool in Mombassa 8 days in a big, luxury hotel, having spent 4 wonderful days on game drives in the Masai Mara. I am content with swimming and reading and the buffet, trying new to me African dishes. Hub, however is getting a tad stir crazy. We did a tour yesterday and I don’t like getting hassled on the streets. Like you we like to walk and explore but as there are security here with AK47’s we don’t really feel like a stroll. But it is a beautiful and interesting place, and the Kenyans are lovely.
    So where would I say ticks your boxes? Copenhagen is adorable, particularly in summer. I want to go back, it has everything I love. And Cape Town and the Western Cape, which I hated 23 years ago but now love as it seems the politics are not so one sided, and the people seem happier and more optimistic. And you can drive and explore. Plus southern hemisphere!
    Definitely safari! So much of Africa to explore. Will go now, typing this on my phone in the sun so apologies for mistakes.

    1. Thanks for that, Cindy. We are definitely looking at Africa for a winter trip. We have had nothing but great experiences in the southern hemisphere so far: Australia, New Zealand, Cook Islands, Argentina, and Peru… so far. I would love to go to Scandinavia as well.

  19. I enjoy your blog and love reading about your trips. Your style and view of travel are similar to ours – see some sights, soak in the culture/country through locals and other visitors. As you said, travel experiences enriches you individually and as a couple.
    And the new look and format is great. Good Job!
    Suz from Vancouver

  20. Hi Sue, the new format is good but so was the old. I suspect as a Gemini (as am I), you like change!
    Love reading about your passion for a certain way of travel. My husband & I have the same aversion to many of the cruises on offer. Big cities in summer hold no appeal, but our family holiday for 6 weeks in New York around Christmas 2017 was a treat, along with the snow. I love reading about train travel on Seat 61. As an Australian, flights are long & boring, so train travel is a welcome change.
    This year, we’re travelling to Istanbul, Croatia, Prague & parts of Ireland & Scotland, but only for 6 weeks since my husband is still working. Can’t wait, but there’s so much to research to ensure we make the most of that time, all the while ensuring we also have time to relax a bit. We also construct our own itineraries.
    Keep up with your great blog!

    1. We have decided to give Prague a miss when we do Croatia and Slovenia. We’re afraid it will be very crowded. I have always wanted to visit Istanbul… must be all the Agatha Christie novels I read. Of course we adored Ireland. And loved Scotland too. Especially the highlands in the far north and Edinburgh. I’ll be interested to hear how it goes. Have a fabulous time!

  21. I’m late to the party with these comments but wanted to say I love the design refresh you’ve given the blog. It’s so clean and fresh and inviting.
    As for travel, we have found that two weeks is about our limit before we’re tired and ready to go home and that we enjoy stays of about four nights, then taking the train to the next place. I really enjoy seeing the world’s great cities, though I feel you regarding the crowds. In Florence in early October I was stunned by how many people were packed into its small public spaces.
    If I had to narrow our sweet spot, it would be smaller, less known cities, such as Girona in Spain. This year’s trip will be Switzerland, staying in Lucerne rather than Zurich, a car-free mountain village and then a small village near Lausanne/Geneva.
    I thrill to the feeling of standing on a sidewalk in a new-to-me city for the first time and embracing it for a few days.

    1. Thanks very much, Felicia. I really like the new format. We rarely stay in a place longer than 4-5 days, and most often it’s two. But we drive most often, or try to. And that makes packing up and moving so much easier.

  22. Hello Sue,
    Just found your blog and was scanning posts and read this older one. My husband and I just finished a 3 week trip in Austria and Slovenia. We have been discussing our travel priorities and they are similar to yours. Vienna was the most crowded and least favorite spot on our trip. We will be avoiding crowds and tourist traps whenever possible. Slovenia is beautiful – try a couple of days in Bovic and do some amazing hikes and river rafting. We are 59 and 69 years young and know that in the future we’ll also have to make adjustments. For now, no cruises or bus tours. I look forward to following your blog and future posts.

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