It's true, traveling is our absolute favorite. We are pretty much up for going anywhere and everywhere at anytime, but we do have places that just captured our hearts and leave us constantly talking about "when we go back". Whether it's the people or the place or both, I want to share with you why we love these eleven destinations and why YOU should start planning your own trip!
Ok, ok...maybe I'm a little biased since I grew up there, but Bolivia is absolutely amazing and a great destination for any adventure seeker! The cities are filled with great architecture and surrounded by snow capped Andes Mountains, deep jungle and beautiful landscapes. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and a fun place to stay for a few days. The Salt Flats in Solar Uyuni are mesmerizing. And, Death Road...need I say more? But the food, oh the food. This country knows how to eat. Luckily you can eat and eat and still lose weight because of all of the walking you do around the cities!
It's so crazy because Salt Lake City seems like Cochabamba, Bolivia's twin! The mountain views, the fresh air, the city life and so many other little things that remind me of home. Even the fact that Cochabamba has the largest Mormon Temple in South America and Salt Lake City is the center of Mormonism! I still remember the first day that I flew into SLC and knew that I was going to love this place. We've been so many times now...6 in total. Even Ironman loves our trips to this city and always says that one day he will buy a home here too so that we can go more often! Although the city is fun, we love that you can just drive an hour outside of the city and feel like you are in the middle of nowhere. Who doesn't love empty landscapes and beautiful views?! Plus this is another great destination for any adventurer. Last summer we rented this little ATV and got filthy dirty while having a blast in the wilderness...next on my list is going there during the winter months and skiing! Plus, I'm a little biased with this place also because we can always stop by and visit the Young Living Lavender Farms. I LOVE that we work for an essential oils company where there are no secrets and you are welcome to be a part of the entire process from planting the seeds, to farming, to harvesting, to distilling and even bottling it all up! If you are ever Utah, you should stop by and tour the farm...it's beautiful!
3. CARIBBEAN CRUISE
So, there isn't a certain destination here, but just a Caribbean Cruise in general. I LOVE cruises because you pay and then you're done. You get on the cruise ship and everything is provided. All your food, entertainment, snacks, gym, movies, swimming, shows, room service and so much more! Sure, you have to pay more if you want to drink alcohol and go on port excursions, but you don't have to have those things to have fun. For our honeymoon, Ironman and I went on our first cruise and visited Key West, Cozumel and the Cayman Islands. Then, last year, for our family vacation, we went on a cruise to Costa Maya and Cozumel. It's so wonderful for someone else to worry about everything and you just walk onboard and spend a week relaxing. Now, that's what I call a vacation! It's perfect for families who want to spend time together, but not worry about details. Each person can sleep in their own cabin, eat the food they want, spend their day doing what they want, take a nap when they want, etc...my family would just have a plan of when we would all meet up at a certain time to eat and hang out! When we have kids, Ironman and I want to go on a Disney Cruise!
4. NORTHERN IRELAND
It's like the land where fairy tales come from...so mystically beautiful, it's almost creepy! We flew into Ireland the day after Christmas 2013 and our friends picked us up to take us to their home in Northern Ireland. For two weeks, we enjoyed Belfast and got carted around by our friends who played tourists with us! Giants Causeway is so strange and reminds me of why I love to travel...the world has so many interesting things to see and learn about! I think about how God probably had a great time putting all this together and maybe even laughed to himself and thought, "I'll create these wonders and give them mysteries to amaze them and keep them questioning and guessing!" So, if you like fish and chips, breathtaking views and cooler weather, make sure you add Northern Ireland and Ireland to your Bucket List!
Right after our two week trip to Northern Ireland and Ireland, we flew into Scotland for five days...and it did not disappoint. We spent a few days exploring Edinburgh and absolutely loved it. It was much colder than Northern Ireland had been, but the views were still just as beautiful. My favorite part of being in the city were the men wearing quilts and playing their bagpipes on the sidewalks. Ironman's great grandaddy was born in Stirling, so we took a day trip by train over to that city. It was much smaller, but we had more trouble navigating and figuring out the bus routes. However, we did love that the name "Stewart" was all over the castle and Ironman's family crest was on the backs of the thrones! Because our trip was so short, we were not able to get up into the highlands, so it's going to have to be a trip that we make again in the future!
6. FAROE ISLANDS
The entire time we were here in the Faroe Islands, we kept commenting on how the landscape made us feel like we were in The Lord of the Rings movies! It is, hands down, the most beautiful place I've ever been in the world. Granted, I like cooler weather and overcast skies. It just always feels so peaceful and calm. The Faroe Islands are referred to as the last frontier and the people were the kindest, most welcoming people I've ever encountered. Everywhere we went, people would open their doors and say "Come! You are welcome!". The country is made up of 17 islands, has no trees, sheep everywhere and only about 50,000 people total. We stayed in one of their largest cities called Klaksvik, which had 5,000 people. We could walk everywhere and ended up falling in love with this little cafe by the water. I was obsessed with a dessert called Murstein...I think I ate it every. single. day. Needless to say (but I'm saying it), the food was amazing. We attended a friend's wedding (which was a two day event!!!) and there were 70 wedding cakes! Apparently it's tradition there for each invited guest to show up with a cake. Also, the groom buys his tux because he will wear it again, but the bride rents her dress because she won't...that makes so much more sense!
7. GRAND CANYON NATIONAL PARK
So, let's head back to the USA. In 2012, we took a month long road trip around the country and put over 8,000 miles on our car visiting a bunch of friends, family, some strangers, site seeing, camping and having the time of our lives! I had always wanted to go to the major state parks around and was so excited that, during our trip, I probably said "I can't believe we are actually doing this!" about a million times. The Grand Canyon was raining and cold and our tent site actually flooded so we slept in the car. But the views...I can't even explain. And the photos do it no justice. It was absolutely amazing. I still remember walking up to the edge and looking out over the canyon in awe. I had never seen anything like it and was totally shocked. Sure, I had seen movies and documentaries with scenes of the Grand Canyon, but nothing compared to standing on the edge, listening to the quiet and taking it all in.
We had a few stops in between the Grand Canyon and the Redwoods. It was mostly city, so I was so happy to once again be back in nature. It was back to cooler weather and quietness...my favorite. And just like the Grand Canyon, I was absolutely shocked at the Redwoods. Again, I had seen the movies and documentaries, but nothing did it justice. The trees were taller and wider than anything I could have even imagined. It was so beautiful and we were already saying "we have to come back here one day" before we had even enjoyed our first five minutes. After visiting the Grand Canyon and then seeing the Redwoods, I felt reminded at how very little I am and how very big God is! It's good to keep it all in perspective.
9. YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK
Ok, not gonna lie...after visiting the Grand Canyon and the Redwoods, Yellowstone just wasn't as exciting. Yes, I enjoyed it and thought that it was beautiful, but it was definitely more crowded. Plus, we didn't camp because there were so many warnings of Grizzlies and I was terrified! The sulfur pools were so interesting and although the weather was cool, you could feel yourself get hotter and hotter the closer you got to the turquoise water. We walked around the park a little, had some lunch and waited until we saw Old Faithful do it's thing. The views were beautiful and the park had so much diversity in just the little bit that we saw. But, I think that by not staying there or camping, we missed out. So, one day we need to go back and see Yellowstone "the right way"...Grizzlies and all!
Welcome to colorful Colorado...as the state line sign read. At first the landscapes were brown and dry, but the closer we got to our friend's home, the more colorful it became. By this time in our road trip, it was late September and all of the leaves were turning orange. It was beautiful. Gorgeous weather. Amazing views. Mountains. We stayed with our friend at a ranch and slept on the floor of his bunk house. Each morning we woke up to the fields covered in mist and horses sleeping and grazing. It was like a dream. It's another great state for those who love the outdoors and adventure! We were sad that we were only able to stay for a few days, but loved it and hope to go back one day on another road trip!
11. THE BALTIMORE ESTATE
I'm not sure why, but I have always been fascinated with history. I love to see photos of people's homes and clothes and read stories about their lives. So, The Biltmore Estate is right up my alley. You can walk through the home and see all of the furniture and decorations and hear the history behind how the house was built, who lived there and how they lived their every day lives. There are hundreds of rooms and it's so interesting to take a walk back in time and imagine what it would have been like to live there. It's hard to believe that people actually lived like this (like kings) and continue to do so even today. This trip was special to me also because it was to celebrate Ironman graduating from college. We got married in college and both still had two semesters left as full time students. I was so proud of us that one of us had graduated and I wanted to do something special. So, I sneakily packed up the car early one morning, woke Ironman up and told him he was not going to work, hopped in the car and told him the direction to drive. He was so surprised and it was our first trip after our honeymoon! I have been back one time with a friend, but it's on our Bucket List to go while it is decorated for Christmas and full of the sparkling lights!
Even putting together this list was hard because I love pretty much every place I go while traveling! The more I travel, the more I want to go go go. The more people I meet, the more I realize that we are all the same...we grow up, fall in love, have families, work, dream and struggle. And the more places I see, the more I believe that God created it all and wants us to enjoy it!
Have you been to any of these places yet? If not, is there somewhere that you would like to visit?