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Expat in Germany: My Top 5 Travel Destinations of 2010

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

My Top 5 Travel Destinations of 2010

Storm watching, which I could do for hours, makes the Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, Vancouver Island,makes it one of my top travel destinations
2010 was another great year for traveling for me and my top travel destinations easily could have been a list of 100 items long, but after much consideration, here are my top 5 travel destinations of 2010 in chronological order.

#1 Top Travel Destination of 2010 - Wild Pacific Trail in Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, Canada
In the winter months the small towns of Ucluelet and Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island are known for storm watching and we were treated to quite the show throughout our late December/early January stay.  In Tofino we watched surfers brave the frigid waters, barely above freezing, but clearly enjoying the waves, which were in peak season.  I couldn't convince J.P. to take a surfing lesson with me so we settled for a nice hike on the Wild Pacific Trail which provided plenty of storm watching excitement - from land.  See the official Wild Pacific Trail for more info.

#2 Top Travel Destination of 2010 - Waterton National Park, Alberta, Canada
Waterton National Park is ~ 3 hours south of it's more famous neighbor, Banff National Park, but it is THE place to go for wildlife sightings.  I'll admit I'm biased, growing up just minutes outside the park, but I've seen bears here on at least 10 occasions, far more than I've seen in Banff.  The mountains are not as grandiose as those in Banff, but for what it lacks in size it by far makes up for it with wildlife, red rocks and a welcoming village feel.  In two short days, we saw elk, big horn sheep, deer, a moose with young twins, a coyote and evidence of a very recent cougar.  For more info see the government site, Waterton National Park
The wildlife, like this large herd of elk  is why  Waterton National Park is one of my top travel destinations

And this big horn sheep, which along with others munches on resident's grass in the village of Waterton National Park

#3 Top Travel Destination of 2010 - Stuttgart, Germany
I moved to Stuttgart, Germany in July from Calgary, Canada and the city has been very good to me.  It's not as rich in architecture or history as more famous German cities like Berlin or Munich are, but it still has several castles, a famous opera house, notable museums -most famously the Mercedes and Porsche museums and lots of interesting parks and cafes to explore.  With a population of just over 600,000 it's not an overwhelming city to get acquainted with, but still has plenty to offer.  Plus it's just a short drive away to hiking trails in the Black Forest and the Swabian Alps which is a bonus for me since I love to hike.  Coming soon is an iPhone app of a Walking Tour of Stuttgart which I wrote.  In the meantime, see the Stuttgart Tourism site for more info. 
The Schloss Platz, a great place to have a picnic in front of the new castle in Stuttgart, which I pass everyday on my way to German class makes this a top travel destination for me.

#4 Top Travel Destination of 2010 - PalauMost people have never heard of Palau unless they are scuba divers.  It lies between the Philippines and Guam and is an independent South Pacific Island Nation.  We were drawn to Palau since it is the world's first and only shark sanctuary and we wanted to support this initiative with our tourism dollars, hoping that other countries will follow suit.  We were rewarded with unbelievable diving - coral reef walls that disappeared deep into the blue teaming with life on one side and reef sharks gliding by us on the other side was a typical dive.  And one can never forget snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake where you snorkel with millions of non-stinging jellyfish, truly a unique experience. See Sensual Snorkeling in Jellyfish Lake for more info and  Palau Visitors Authority for more info.
Superb diving and snorkeling with millions of jellyfish in Jellyfish Lake make Palau a top 5 travel destination.
#5 Top Travel Desintation of 2010 - Odense, Denmark
I was in Copenhagen for the TBEX Conference which is a lovely historic city in itself, but I really fell in love Odense, just over an hour train ride from Copenhagen and the birth place of Hans Christian Andersen.  What makes this city with a small town feel so special is the locals pride in Hans Christian Andersen and their work to keep his stories alive.  Hans Christian Andersen statues from his numerous stories are placed throughout the city, and trying to figure out which story the statue is from is half the fun.  Without Hans Christian Andersen, Odense would still be a historic city with tree lined streets, but the community spirit evidenced everywhere you look is what really makes it special. See Top 10 Things to See in Odense, Denmark for more info.
The statues from Hans Christian Andersen stories in Odense help make it a top travel destination.

What was your top travel destination of 2010?

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At December 29, 2010 at 4:31 AM , Anonymous inka said...

I already did my piece. Palau looks absolutely fantastic to me. Out of the way and just great.

At December 29, 2010 at 4:48 AM , Anonymous adventureswithben said...

SCUBA Diving with Jellyfish. Way cool. Though I'd tell my friends they were lethal, but my adept swimming ability kept me alive!

At December 29, 2010 at 4:59 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@inka - I enjoyed your piece. Palau was great, although it normally only attracts divers since the best action is underwater.
@adventureswithben-just snorkeling since the bubbles from diving hurt the jellyfish. I like your story, I wish I would have thought of this, much cooler than non-stinging jellyfish!

At December 29, 2010 at 6:24 AM , Anonymous Ayngelina said...

You've been to Palau? I don't even scuba dive but I still want to go. I would learn just for that experience.

At December 29, 2010 at 6:54 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Ayngelina - Jellyfish Lake is amazing but after spending a week on land we ran out of things to do which we found surprising. The snorkeling is amazing and the islands are beautiful though!

At December 29, 2010 at 12:21 PM , Anonymous Cathy Sweeney said...

Yes, you've had a great travel year! I've been to Vancouver Island (near Sooke - don't know if that's near Ucluelet) and Waterton Nat'l Park - loved both trips.

I've been enjoying your blog very much - looking forward to your 2011 posts!

At December 29, 2010 at 1:19 PM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Cathy - Sooke is a couple of hours a way from Ucluelet and is also beautiful. Regarding Waterton, you just made my day! I know so many Canadians that haven't been there and they live really close. Glad to hear you're enjoying the blog - thanks!

At December 29, 2010 at 5:55 PM , Anonymous Lorna - the roamantics said...

ooh palau's on my list! great photo and i'm with ayngelina. would absolutely learn to dive to experience that.

At December 30, 2010 at 1:58 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

It looks like you had a fabulous year. Here's hoping 2011 is even better!

At December 30, 2010 at 9:19 AM , Anonymous Where Now said...

Haha thanks you have given me some good ammunition for my "to visit" list!

At December 30, 2010 at 11:55 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

I haven't been to any of these places....yet! They all look terrific. Happy New Year!

At December 31, 2010 at 5:10 AM , Anonymous Shirin said...

You're definitely a girl after my own heart. My pic for the year goes to Nepal and the trek up to ABC (Annapurna Base Camp). However, as a Vancouverite (who is now transplanted to Kiel, Germany for 18 months) I am ashamed to say I haven't taken up the opportunity to hike the famous West Coast Trail. On my list of things to do when I go back home.

At December 31, 2010 at 6:43 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Lorna - the only problem with diving in Palau is it wrecks it for diving elsewhere so there are few places on earth where the diving is as good as it is in Palau

@eatloveloveanon- I did thanks and have some fun adventures planned for 2011 as well!

@WhereNow - Glad I could help :)

@Struxtravel - The world is such a big place. Happy New Year to you as well!

@Shirin - I've always wanted to hike in Nepal, it's on my list. I haven't hiked the West Coast Trail, but we will be spending our honeymoon in Canada kayaking with whales and diving off of Vancouver Island, things as a Canadian I haven't done yet either :). Hope you're enjoying your time in Kiel!

At January 1, 2011 at 7:17 PM , Blogger Tracy D said...

I thought I had commented on this but it doesn't seem to have worked? Tofino is one of our most favourite places on earth, something truly magical about it. Palau looks amazing, I remember it from Survivor of all things, one of the rewards took them to that jellyfish lake. Happy New Year!

At January 4, 2011 at 9:32 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice to see Denmark on the list! Thanks for providing the top ten link for Odense!

At January 10, 2011 at 5:13 AM , Blogger Expat in Germany said...

@Tracy - I agree, I love Tofino. We're going back this summer and I think it will be even better in summer! Good memory, regarding Palau and Survivor. We swam to the Survivor Island, with 6 reef sharks in site, which was very memorable!

@Anonymous - No problem, I love Denmark, and especially Odense!


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