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Most Memorable 2018 Travel Experience

As 2018 is drawing to a close, what was your most memorable travel experience? For us it was discovering ancestry in Venice two weeks before arriving there. We found out (my husband) had family dating back to the 16th century. We were thrilled to locate the family home, just a short distance from our hotel near San Marco! Unforgettable experience.

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2498 posts

Janis--that is truly an exciting experience!

2018 was special in that I got to make 2 trips--first in May to Budapest (4th visit, always spectacular) and continued on to Munich, where I spent 6 days in excruciating pain from spondylolisthesis; still walked on average 7 miles a day, made 2 day trips by train, ate excellent food & drank plenty of beer. So, it was memorable in a not-so-great kind of way, though I was happy to discover Germany and will return.

To make up for those 6 days of misery I went to London for the second time in late August and from there I had my most wonderful experience of visiting Highclere Castle and other Downton Abbey filming sites. Positively giddy with glee in the worst sort of fan-girl way. Second most memorable bit from that trip was visiting the Tower of London just to spend time with the ravens and finding one of their feathers for the best souvenir ever.

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16 posts

Visiting the Giant's Causeway in Northern Ireland. Wish I could be there in a storm! Also, seeing the murals in Derry and Belfast. Loved Dingle and all the traditional Irish music there. It was over 40 years that I had been in Ireland. Also Naples -- I loved the center of the city, would definitely go back. Saw the sculpture "The Veiled Christ," which is one of the most amazing sculptures I've ever seen. The Amalfi Coast (but not all the traffic and crowds). Fulfilled a life long dream to visit Pompeii and Herculaneum. Wow, it was quite a year! Scotland and England next year.

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1056 posts

Visiting Nuremberg, where I worked, married and lived for several years in the 1970’s. I was able to reconnect with my former landlord’s daughter, who graciously invited me to meet her husband and stay in their home. I was able to visit several sites from my former time, meet their friends and enjoy the Christkindlesmarkt. And I was pleased to discover that my German fluency hadn’t dimmed all that much in the past 40 years.

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479 posts

Going to the Royal Wedding last May! I just happened to have booked a week in London five months earlier, then learned the wedding would be happening right in the midst of our stay. Daughter and I took a morning train to Windsor, walked around the town and saw some celebrities (Don Lemon of CNN!) and positioned ourselves on the Long Walk where we spent a delightful few hours and then saw Meghan and Harry pass by in their carriage. It was a wonderful party that I will never forget.

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2424 posts

I love this topic.
I made 2 trips this year, Paris & Amsterdam in April which I planned and made all the arrangements. Gained confidence doing it myself along with help from the forum and from well-traveled friends. On to the highlights - Giverny and the profusion of flowers in glorious bloom, a magical day! Touring Keukenhof tulip gardens was a bucket list item and it didn’t disappoint, creative and beautiful designs. Wow!

Turkey on a RS tour in October: highlights were Ephesus, Aphrodisias, Cappadocia and the churches in the caves in Goreme National Park.

Grateful for the opportunities to travel and to expand my horizons.

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6245 posts

Being surrounded by clouds of countless Monarch butterflies, high up in the mountains of eastern Michoacán in Mexico, hearing the sound of their wings fluttering around us, having them land in our hair and on our clothes, breathing in the pine-scented, sweet cool mountain air.

Exploring the wild, empty coasts of Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia, poking around castles, palaces, lighthouses, windmills, abandoned Russian relics, and wandering the old cities in the early morning hours.

Looking forward to 2019 and Baja, Ireland, the Faroes, Thailand and some remote south Pacific island. Somebody's gotta do it.

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1974 posts

We took our boys (11 & 14) on their first trip to Europe last summer - 3 weeks driving around Germany, Austria, Slovenia & Italy. It was an amazing trip! The highlight was paragliding over Salzburg - a bucket-list item for me.

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992 posts

Probably two... in 2010 went to Lerwick, Shetland islands Scotland with my dad’s cousin and my sister. Went in June for their Hamerfarin celebration. My 2nd great grandfather came from Shetland, arrived here in US and founded Inkster , Michigan. We met living 5th cousins there. Had a blast !

My second was taking my 2nd RS tour and my husband’s first in April 2016 for the holland and Belgium tour. On our off day, we went to Den Hague and found the house where my grandparents lived in early 60’s. We was over there for work with shell oil. The summer I turned four, they paid for my family to come for the summer. My dad was a teacher, so we were there for 3-4 months. We went and found the house where I was that summer. I knocked on the door to see it the owners were home but they were not!

What memories!


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14917 posts

Six days of hiking the Tour du Mont Blanc, two in pouring rain and three in glorious sunshine (and one mixed). Gorgeous scenery, wonderful company, three countries ( France, Italy, and Switzerland) and should I mention the food?

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5142 posts


What a wonderful topic, thanks!

This past Spring I traveled to Sicily in memory of our late friend, Zoe...

As you may know, Zoe had traveled to Sicily on her last trip before she passed, so this trip was special, yet bittersweet.

I will never forget the lovely people I met that made my trip truly special and memorable.

Other special and memorable travel experiences:

Meeting a forum friend, Charlene and her DH, Tom, and taking a couple of day trips together (Segesta and Erice) when our trips overlapped in Sicily.

Finally meeting my long time forum friend, Chani, when she was in California this past July.

Making a new forum friend, Andi, who has been so kind and helpful as I moved my daughter to Colorado!

One more thing— I’m truly grateful to all of you who make this forum so very special, thank you!

Wishing you all many memorable experiences in 2019!

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6172 posts

Wow, very exciting, Janis!

Many fond memories of my husband & I traveling to Europe over the years, but thinking of 2018 will always make me smile. I retired in July and launched my retirement by traveling solo for a 3-week trip in Italy, focusing on all of my favorite hobbies. I can’t even begin to narrow that trip into one most memorable moment - so many “wow” experiences! I enlarged two of my photos on canvas to enjoy here at home; the garden at Isola Bella & a gorgeous Tuscan entry in Pienza.

Next year I’m going to France for three weeks, and he’s joining me for the last 8 days. : )

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53 posts

Scotland trip at the end of August...We follow Aberdeen Football on their website for last three or four years. Finally saw them live. Sat in visitor support in Edinburgh on Easter Road. Some Aberdeen fans we met and talked to told the club to invite us for a pregame tour.

Out of the blue in Aberdeen we get an email invite. Tv announcers lead the tour. They introduced us to other much better dressed people on the tour. Corporate sponsors guests we were later told.

It was a highlight. My wife is a soccer nut and was thrilled to stand on the pitch they play on.

Announcers warned us a bad ref was drawn for the game. A questionable red card in the first five minutes sealed our fate.

Pregame was the highlight.

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380 posts

I love traveling, especially to Europe and was really excited I got to go twice this year. But the best part was taking my mom to London and Paris with my sister and daughter. She's never been overseas, had a passport for more than 10 years but never got a stamp in it and had always planned to do a trip like this with my dad but never got the opportunity before he passed away 4 years ago. Even though she has some issues with stairs and has to walk a little slower, we had an amazing trip! We had so much fun touring Hampton Court's unbelievably beautiful rose garden, walking through Westminster Abbey, having a traditional pub meal, finally introducing her to my goddaughter, seeing the Mona Lisa, going to the top of the Eiffel Tower and so much more. The most memorable moment, celebrating her birthday and my daughters birthday with afternoon tea at Fortnum and Mason. I will never forget the look on her face when they surprised the two of them with a slice of delicious cake on a plate with "Happy Birthday" written in chocolate. It was the most amazing experience, one that she still talks about to this day! It's a trip I will never forget and I know I will think about it every time I return to London and Paris.

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1059 posts

Our most memorable travel experience was a trip to New Zealand and Australia. We spent 8 days in New Zealand and 9 days in Australia. Queenstown and Milford Sound were great sites in New Zealand. In Australia, I was surprised how much I liked Sydney, Australia. I was the cleanest big city I have ever been in. The Sydney Harbor was beautiful. I could have easily spent a week there. Cairns and the Great Barrier Reef was definitely worth seeing

The prime months to visit Australia and New Zealand are in February and March so those of you trying to escape the cold weather and are looking for an alternative to Europe should consider going there. You won’t be sorry and you won’t find any nicer people anywhere.

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3961 posts

I am really enjoying all the meaningful experiences shared thus far. It's all about unique journeys. As frequent traveler's we can identify with places we've visited or hope to visit in the future. May 2019 bring new adventures filled with lasting memories. Happy New Year!

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1316 posts

Well, this is the easiest question I’ve ever answered on this forum. In May, in Liverpool, I met another American guy on a Beatles tour and we’ve become very close. I showed him around Liverpool for the next two days since I’ve been there several times. We’ve stayed in constant contact since and I’ve been to Washington DC to see him twice and will probably move there next year.

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8660 posts

Hard to pick as had quite a few memorable experiences, but will have to say it was the Portuguese Camino that I walked with my daughter in April. We walked from Porto to Santiago, which is about 260km. Though we had quite a bit of rain, we laughed so much the whole way that the rain simply added to the fun. Fell into a creek one day, but that too became one of our fun, shared stories. This was the perfect, mom and daughter bonding trip. She was turning 28, had just finished her masters and this was my gift to her, all the equipment, the flight, and all the expenses.
We stayed in albergues/hostels, but also in a few budget pensions and hotels. Met lots of great people, saw stunning sunrises and beautiful scenery and churches. Chances are good that she may walk another Camino with me this year or next. (yes, they are addictive, once you walk one you want to go back and walk more)

Besides walking for 11 days, we had 3 days in Santiago to sight-see and 2 extra days in Porto. Did a bus tour to Muxia and Finisterre while in Santiago, which I had done 3 years ago. Good deal for 39€. We flew RyanAir from Frankfurt, paying for the premium seats which allowed us to bring our back packs on board. This is as close as you can get to flying 1st class with RyanAir. The prices were still about half of any other airline.

This trip brought us closer together than anything I could have ever imagined or hoped for.

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1878 posts

Mine would be visiting the city of Gdansk on the front end of our Poland-northeastern Germany trip this past May. I was expecting the rest to be great (Krakow, Goerltiz, Dresden, Berlin), and certainly they were all great. I was not sure if it was worth going out of our way to Gdansk on the front end, and it turned out that it certainly was. I appreciate cities that have wonderful ambience, even if they don't have as many E-ticket sights. I may have to add Gdansk and Nuremberg both to my most underrated cities list (the other three are Madrid, Lisbon, Budapest). But then again, who am I kidding, I loved every stop on the aforementioned itinerary.

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15448 posts

My travels ranged from Hanoi to Marrakech to Los Angeles this year. What stands out for me is the quality time I had with friends on a long visit to the US and a short visit in Hong Kong, and especially seeing forum friends, Harold in New York, and Priscilla in LA. Though Priscilla and I have been forum friends for several years, in 2018 we were finally able to spend a wonderful day together.

The biggest surprise for me was Morocco - in spite of a sub-par guide, the itinerary was well planned and the country has some jaw-dropping beautiful scenery, very friendly, welcoming people, and great sights, experiences and food.

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493 posts

In September-October 2018 I took my first solo trip to Europe and spent 8 nights in Florence and 3 in Milan. I planned everything myself and aside from flight delays, everything went off with out a hitch. I saw lots of Michelangelo art and just walked around Florence. I managed a few bus rides. The whole trip was memorable to me. Staying a full week in Florence helped me feel like I was part of the neighborhood. I had an AirBnb apartment, which I highly recommend over a hotel. It was my second trip to Florence, so I felt like I already knew my way around a little. Friends back home told me how "brave" I was to go on my own, but I didn't see it that way. I just wanted to make my own decisions about what to do and take as much time as I wanted. One fond memory is seeing Vasari's "Last Supper" painting at Santa Croce. It was restored after the flood of 1966 and is a magnificent piece of art. Another memory is spending the day in Lucca, which was a wonderful break from the bustling streets of Florence.

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1943 posts

This year I was able to visit a bucket list destination, Machu Picchu, and it was truly breathtaking. The rest of the sites (and food!) in Peru and Ecuador were also wonderful.

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5192 posts

We also got to experience the incredible phenomena of migrating butterflies. For us, it was Tortoise shell butterflies making their way through Lassen Volcanic National Park. They were just everywhere and we could hear the clicking as they fluttered their wings. We hiked to the summit of Lassen volcano and even at that elevation there were many, many butterflies.
In November we traveled to southern Spain and the whole trip was so memorable, its hard to pick a specific experience. The view of the Alhambra at night was certainly memorable. We really enjoyed walks through the ancient quarters of the cities we visited, especially Sevilla, Cordoba and Toledo. When I go to Europe, I always cross off a few places on my bucket list and end up adding a whole bunch more!

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369 posts

We spent the month of February in Italy. Part of that time we were on the RS Sicily tour. We invited a friend to join us on the tour and she invited two friends. We bonded quickly with our new friends and we see more travel adventures together in our future. It was also my husband’s guide dog’s last European trip as she was slowing down in her work. She did great on the trip. She must have known it was her last hurrah. She travelled to 18 countries during her career. Now she is happily retired and her successor will be joining us on another RS tour in the fall.

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8942 posts

Oh wow JVB, what a momentous occasion, the retirement of your husband's guide dog, who has been through so much with you! I'm so glad she got to go to Sicily — I hope the Italians treated her right!

And Janis indeed, finding Venetian ancestry and the very house from which your husband's family came . . . Wow.

Great thread, it's so fun reading everyone's stories!

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3401 posts

For us it was two fold - we finally took my sister, her husband, and my SIL to Croatia to meet my husband’s family. My sister has know my husband, like me, since we were all in high school together. Also, we arranged for a family reunion at a wonderful restaurant in Grobnik to remember my parents-in-law who both passed away recently.

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2560 posts

2018 is the year I finally moved beyond North America and Europe. My husband and I went to Africa! Specifically, South Africa, Botswana and Zimbabwe. For a variety of reasons, I was pretty nervous about it, but I went anyway. We loved it! Now we are trying to see more of the world while we can - Australia and New Zealand in March, hopefully Patagonia in 2020. But I’m pretty sure my heart will always be in Europe.

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3961 posts

First of all, thanks to all who have shared their heartfelt stories! Wonderful! I want to add another coincidence to my original posting. Since this was our first time in Venice, (3rd time to Italy) we were fortunate to have recommendations. Some of them came from the same contributors to this thread. Grazie! The coincidence came about from some friends several months before. They recommended a restaurant just over the Accademia Bridge that had "the best view" of the Grand Canal. What none of us knew was that not only was there a great view, but lo and behold we had a birds eye view of the family home across the canal! We found an even better view from the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. I bet some of you know the restaurant in Dorsoduro: Bar Foscarini. Ponte dell Accademia. Wonderful spot on a warm afternoon for a celebratory Aperol Spritz and Pizza. All in all we believe the trip to Venice was meant to be.

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369 posts

To Kim, I think Italy was our guide dog’s favorite countrybecause of the kindness shown by the Italians. She absolutely loved the agriturismo we stayed at outside San Gimignano in 2017. She could wander around the garden while off duty and sleep under the Tuscan sun in the comfy grass.

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49 posts

I was blessed enough to take a trip to Costa Rica with my three daughters before my middle one got married: it was our first time traveling altogether in a very long time and we had such a beautiful trip that I think it will be one of our favorite memories together for a long time to come.

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3673 posts

I had many great experiences this year, but the hands-down best experience happened about two weeks ago. It was dinner. At Pizza Hut. In Manteo, NC. With Colonel Gail Halvorsen, the US Air Force pilot who began dropping candy to the children of West Berlin during the Berlin Airlift in 1948; he earned the title "The Candy Bomber" for this. He's now 98 years old and continues to participate in an annual re-enactment of the candy drop along the Outer Banks of North Carolina. Even at 98, the man exudes kindness. We were joined at dinner by Ms Karen Edmond, who puts the event together every year and who caught candy as a child in West Berlin. Others at dinner included the flight team for the Spirit of Freedom, a 1940's-era Douglas C-54, whose cabin contains a Berlin Airlift museum. Before the weekend was over, I got to fly in the C-54, which was so stinking awesome, but nowhere near as awesome as meeting an incredible man who showed so much kindness to the children of West Berlin.

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1221 posts

We did the Utah national parks loop this summer. The state of apparently Utah does a really, really good job of marketing their 'Mighty 5' around the world.

Toward the end of the trip, we got up and went down to the breakfast room, and I was reading the news as I ate and the wire services were reporting Anthony Bourdain's suicide. As someone who had long been a fan of his, it was a gut punch to hear of that.

And then we packed up the car, drove into Bryce Canyon National Park, and went down into the canyon on one of the more popular trails in the park. And started listening to the people around us- lots of Americans and other English-speakers and you'd hear German and French and Spanish and Japanese and Chinese, and at one point we found ourselves following a saffron-robed Buddhist monk through the hoodoos.

The world was in Bryce that day and there was just this sense of how important it was to keep moving, keep exploring , keep trying to see new things and edging past your comfort zone. And that you really do have a lot in common with the other people you share the trail with, even if you don't happen to share a common language.

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566 posts

We fulfilled a lifelong dream of hiking the Cotswold Way. My husband and I, in our 70s, hiked and rode trains and buses to cover some of the most beautiful sections of the Cotswolds. It was just as I always imagined it would be!

We flew Iceland Air, so had an extended layover in Reykjavik. Got to spend two very interesting days touring around Iceland. We'd really like to go back there and spend more time.

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78 posts

I had two big trips this year, one to Eastern Canada and one to Rome with a Western Mediterranean cruise.

Eastern Canada trip was in June and the most memorable part was Cape Breton Island. My first two days (very beginning of June) the weather was lovely, clear sky, no wind, temperature in the 70s F. Saw whales off of Pleasant Bay and took a great hike on the Skyline Trail in Cape Breton National Park and was wondering why it was still "off-season". Learned the answer the next two days, as it was cold (barely above freezing), windy, and rainy, but still fun.

The Rome trip just ended a few days ago and I might make a proper trip report. I spent 3 days in Rome prior to boarding my week long cruise (Civitavechhia -- Palermo -- Malta (NOT-couldn't land due to high winds) -- Barcelona -- Marseille -- Genoa -- Civitavecchia). I stayed near Termini before the cruise, and spent the day after disembarking in Trastevere rather than going straight to the airport (left following day), and my day wandering the streets near Santa Maria Cathedral, down along the Tiber, in the Jewish Ghetto, and watching Italian boys play soccer (calcio) from my hotel window was awesome. Even though it wasn't a day of many famous guidebook sites, it was probably my favorite day of the trip, even with standing on the overcrowded train from Civitavechhia back to Rome.

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1337 posts

Made it to Zion National Park & Bryce Canyon w/my friend and his two teenage boys. Many languages being spoken on the trails & water ways.

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1397 posts

Standing in the Cappella Nuova, of the Orvieto Cathedral, following the story of Signorelli's frescoes as Deborah Heyburn narrated the scenes. Fabulous!!

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2912 posts

For my wife and I, memories always involve spending time with friends. We spent 6 days in Bretagne, in Finisterre. We stayed in a small dumpy hotel with great breakfasts, and super food which was inexpensive. We saw my aged great uncle in Frankfurt. We saw our friends in Cottbus, Germany.

And we spent time in Croatia at a Croatian spa village in Sibenik.

As the author of "Rediscovering Travel" notes, the best memories involve people and their special knowledge of the places in Europe.

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681 posts

My most memorable was tripping to Greece with my sister. We went on a tour (never to be done again-her preference and not a Rick Steves one). My favorite part was ferry tripping from island to island. I didn't enjoy the large crowded town but the little ones with cozy area to get a coffee and soak up the atmosphere. Keep on traveling in 2019.

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51 posts

Our 5th trip to Europe, but each time full of unique memories and too many to list. This trip was a return to Venice and Tuscany in the Val d'Orcia area. New to us was the wonderful country of Slovenia. We will definitely return there. The end of the trip we were in Paris again, but this time meeting old and new friends enjoying a picnic at the Eiffel Tower and a Jimmy Buffett concert at La Cigale.

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26 posts

Little late to this post, but mine was a family trip to London this past April. My sister's family was going for their spring break and invited my parents to go. This was my parents first trip to Europe so I tagged along to help out and to guide them when my sister's family wanted to do something else. It was a fast trip but particularly memorable because it meant a lot to my parents.

And now I think I will finally post the trip review that I wrote months ago!

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1618 posts

Too many to list. We left our home in California last May and have been traveling since. Even though we live in Italy, everyday living experiences seem like travel since it’s not routine.

Most of us travel to see and experience new places and things, But I think the most memorable are the 2 1/2 months visiting friends and family as we drove 9000 miles zigzagging across the US.

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1168 posts

Hey Janis -

Great thread!

As a Brit going (largely) in the opposite direction, we had an early fabulous trip to to Costa Rica, but after due consideration my real heights were Kennicott and the fantastic McCarthy in Alaska, USA. Also the railroad trip from Denali to Talkeetna, also in Alaska, was just so romantic in the wider sense of the word.

Also, more prosaically, I really enjoyed hiking in my own backyard on the Six Dales Trail in a mixture of, initially, torrential downpour, followed by baking heat - rather unexpected!


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61 posts

Last week of August and first two weeks of September we spent a week in London, 5 days in Belgium and 8 days walking the Cotswolds. Highlight one: seeing the Vimy Ridge Memorial and spending most of an afternoon wandering around this utterly breathtaking Canadian memorial and surrounding area. Highlight two: staying for 8 nights in 4 inns in four different villages in the Cotswolds and walking an average of 10.5 miles per day through all sorts of different terrain and beautiful views. My wife and I have been to Europe numerous times and we both agreed that this was the most memorable vacation there so far.

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12154 posts

June was my first time tent camping in Europe. I went to the French Pyrenees and hiked up a lot of hills to see ruins of castles built circa 1300 for border wars. Great views. The area was getting horrible rain while I was there but I could have literally left my rain shell at home. When I was driving or sleeping, it was raining hard. Each time I had to step outside, it stopped.

So hiking up hills, sleeping in a tent (in heavy rains) was my good time. I don't get many takers when I ask for travel companions. ;-)

In March I went on a Carribean cruise and met a couple from Northern England. I'm going to visit them for a weekend as part of my upcoming trip to Ireland in May.

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279 posts

In June my wife and I and two other American couples, each in their own narrowboat crossed the Pontcysyllte Aqueduct over the River Dee in Wales. This was the culmination of a trip that we started in 2028.

Sometime later in the trip we celebrated Armed Forces Day with the Royal Marines in Plymouth.The Royal Marines do Armed Forces Day right!

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581 posts

Standing inside the Greek temples at Paestum. I'd visited other Greek sites in Sicily, but while those were wonderful, I found my experience at Paestum something special. Also, seeing the Riace bronzes in Reggio di Calabria. It's no wonder that I want to visit Italy over and over again.

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457 posts

We did three longish trips in 2018. In May we did three weeks in Italy, including a RS tour. My most memorable experiences from that trip were hiking from Monterosso to Vernazza and hiking to Castello di Vezio at Varenna to view Lake Como.

In September we took our travel trailer to the Canadian Rockies for two weeks. My most vivid memory was hiking the trail to Lake Agnes while it was snowing. Because of mostly cloudy weather, there weren't many "views" this trip, but the snow on numerous days made for some beautiful settings.

But, my favorite trip of 2018 was two weeks to Yellowstone in 2018. That entire trip was wonderful, truly magical!