After writing the first installment of the Alphabet List, I thought that this would be a breeze. Just go through the letters, and pick places or activities that intrigue me. Easy peasy, right? Wrong. There are so many things to see, touch, taste and marvel at that I’m afraid 26 letters just isn’t enough. But I’ll do my best to arrive at a conclusion, or two, for the next three letters.
Today we start with…
The letter “D” has got to be diving, SCUBA diving to be specific. Since I was certified almost ten years ago, diving has expanded the way that I travel in many ways. Often a destination will be chosen first for its dive sites, second for anything else that might interest us. I’ve been diving in many places, Thailand, Hawaii, the Philippines, but there are many other places that I am dying to see.
The Great Barrier Reef is a natural choice as the largest reef in the world, but also because it’s becoming more and more threatened by invasive species, climate change, and overuse by humans. I’d love to see it while it is still a viable, healthy ecosystem.
If you’ve never heard of Yonaguni, you might want to have a search beyond my brief description. Yonaguni lies off the coast of Okinawa and many say that it is an ancient underwater city. Atlantis, perhaps? Regardless of the mystery surrounding it, I really want to see these structures for myself. Most of it is accessible in less than 30 meters of water, making it a relatively easy dive.
Another dream dive destination would be Micronesia, specifically Palau. In 2009 Palau created the world’s first shark sanctuary, and has banned all commercial shark fishing in its waters. In addition to seeing many species of sharks in Palau’s waters, saltwater crocodiles also call the area home. The reefs have very high species diversity and healthy corals, and also provide shelter to endangered species such as the dugong. However, as nice as all of those things are, Palau also is home to Jellyfish Lake, and while diving is not permitted, snorkelling is, and you are surrounded by thousands of jellyfish who have lost their ability to sting. Heaven.
“E” was a hard one for me, but I settled on Estonia. I’ve always been interested in the republics of the former Soviet Union, and after a visit to Ukraine, I became even more interested. Its location in northern Europe is also nice, as that’s a part of Europe that I’ve yet to explore. More than half of Estonia is covered by forest, which would satisfy my hiking addiction, and it’s long and eventful history, from Vikings to World War 2 to Soviet occupation gets my brain churning.
Add to that the cosmopolitan capital of Tallinn, castles, quaint country towns, and seaside villages, and my travel senses start tingling.
This one was way too easy. “F” is for foxhunting in Ireland. I have been an avid equestrienne since I was very young, and the dream of foxhunting in Ireland has been with me just as long. The thrill of riding a powerful Irish hunter over beautiful countryside and leaping fences and ditches at top speed, accompanied by the sounds of the hunting horn and baying hounds is a feeling I am primed to experience.
Many local hunting clubs offer visitors a chance to train for a few days, then join a hunt, which is quite a privilege. Excellent riding skills are a must, as a hunt can last for hours. But the satisfaction of completing one, and keeping pace with experienced hunters is something that long for. It will happen.
For the animal lovers among my readers (and I am one too) please note that few hunts actually hunt live foxes anymore. A scent trail is laid along the path the hunters wish to take, and the dogs follow it.
So that completes this week’s installment of the Alphabet List! Join us next Friday and we’ll see where “G” takes us!