If there’s one question I get more than any other it’s this one: What’s your favorite place that you’ve been? I love that people are interested enough to ask, but I hate the quantification and limits that an answer requires. Each and every place that I’ve been has made the favorites list in one capacity or another. Some are more “favoritey” than others, but if I couldn’t find something amazing in everything, then I probably shouldn’t be traveling.
Will and I have discussed this topic, as well. Since many of our trips were made before we even knew each other, we have our own favorites and our mutual favorites, and some that fall somewhere in between. For the sake of argument, we have whittled down a list of the five most memorable trips that we have taken together.
Here they are, in no particular order.
1. The Panama Canal
Cate’s Take: Our trip to Panama did NOT go as planned. It was supposed to be visa run from Peru combined with a visit to Boquete to see friends and a cruise to the San Blas Islands. The Boquete portion was amazing, but when we returned to Panama City to start our journey to San Blas, things went horribly awry. Suffice it to say that we got up at 4am for nothing, but we did get our money back. On the plus side, that left us with nothing to do in Panama City on the one day a month when a tourist cruise through the entire Panama Canal is available. What an incredible sight to see! It’s a full day of locks and lakes, huge ships and engineering awesomeness that is not to be missed.
Will’s input: The San Blas Islands are my bucket list item that almost happened. We could have gone anywhere for our visa run, but we had the time & resources to go to Panama. The motivation came in the promise of free drinks in Boquete and the possibility of going to San Blas. When San Blas obviously wasn’t going to happen for us, it caused us to explore our options. We decided on a full transit of the Panama Canal. The Canal is one of those things that has had a huge impact on the world as we know it and to have the pleasure of seeing it up close and personal is an experience I will never forget.
2. The Peruvian Amazon
Cate’s Take: I just love how this trip was “planned”. We were sitting on our lanai in Huanchaco drinking wine with friends and it just popped up, “How about we go to the Amazon?” Two days later we were on a bus headed northeast. We made a few leisurely stops before we boarded a cargo boat, complete with bananas and livestock, in Yurimaguas. The river was high so the trip to Iquitos only took forty eight hours, but the sunrises, sunsets and stops in the little villages along the way were some of the most wonderful hours of my life.
Will’s input: This trip was very unique in that the journey itself was the destination. The vast expanse that is the Amazon region remains mind-boggling to me. We really just surrendered ourselves to the trip and let things happen and everything went very smoothly. The interactions that we had with others along the way really make this trip stick out in my mind.
3. Chernobyl, Ukraine
Cate’s Take: We booked tickets to Kiev simply because they were inexpensive, and it’s a direct flight from Dubai. It wasn’t until a few days later that it dawned on me, Chernobyl is near Kiev! It did take some leg work and a change of date on our plane tickets, but we got permits and went on a tour of Chernobyl and Prypiat, the abandoned town nearby. I was simply speechless the whole time. The beauty of the landscape really belies the disaster that occurred there just twenty five years ago, and the ghost town of Prypiat is haunting and compelling to look at. I feel very fortunate to have seen that place. And Kiev is a spectacular city as well!
Will’s input: When you think of ruins, you usually think of ancient structures abandoned for whatever reasons the inhabitants had for vacating them. The reason that Prypiat was abandoned is something that I witnessed on television. The thing that really sticks out in my mind though is that my expectations of scorched earth were completely shattered. Our visit to these modern ruins was a truly unique experience.
4. Angkor Wat, Cambodia
Cate’s Take: Cambodia was one of the places I had visited long before Will and I met, and I was beyond excited to see it again with him, especially as this was something of a honeymoon, kind of. Regardless, Cambodia will always be a very special place to me, and sharing the hikes through the temple complex with my favorite traveling companion was a delightful experience. Plus, it was our first trip together that involved something other than resorts and room service, and I think we worked as a team really, really well.
Will’s input: Angkor Wat was the first place that we visited together that Cate had been to before. She got to fill the role of destination expert and I got to enjoy it without putting too much thought into the logistics. Beyond the grandeur that is Angkor Wat though, this trip occupies the front of my mind because it was both a honeymoon and where our engagement became official when I presented Cate with her ring. Of course she said “Yes”.
5. Sihanoukville, Cambodia
Cate’s Take: This could have been combined with the above post and simply labeled as “Cambodia”, but Sihanoukville was a very different part of the same trip. We took a death-defying cab ride from Phnom Penh to get there, then the shenanigans began. Those few days were a booze-filled extravaganza and I wouldn’t have had it any other way. From a drunken walk home in the torrential rain with a gigantic “borrowed” beach umbrella to our own personal booze cruise in the Gulf of Thailand on a boat that later capsized (we weren’t on it, of course), Sihanoukville reminded me why it’s so important to be with someone that makes me laugh. Uproariously.
Will’s input: The tension caused by getting there (I’d recommend against being on Cambodia’s roads in the dark) followed by the relief of being there are what I remember most about Sihanoukville. This seaside town is a bit off the beaten path and I’ll always remember it fondly for the rustic beach bungalow, the golden sand beaches and the aforementioned “borrowing” of the beach umbrella during a violent deluge.
So there you have it. Will and I don’t always agree on everything, but we do agree that these five journeys were memorable and important in so many ways. I look forward to updating this list frequently.
What are your favorite trips? What makes those journeys special to you? Let us know in the comments section below!