Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Dream Trip

     Recently the United States had a multi-state Mega Millions lottery that reached over $600 million. A few people shared in the winnings, but the amount created a frenzy. News channels stationed outside liquor stores and gas stations asked would-be millionaires what they'd do with the money. Everyone's imagination ran wild, from shopping sprees to paying off bills, to more humble thoughts of taking care of one's friends and family. Myself? Well, that's easy. After opening up my own corner cafe, I'd be onto the Dream Trip Itinerary. No place too far, no splurge too big, no idea outrageous enough for that list! Care to join me?
     My first stop on the Trip would be to head down to Quintana Roo state of Mexico to Tulum Beach, since Mexico is just south of the US and convenient. Located in the Yucatan area of the country, the beaches sit on the Caribbean side of the country. Here we have warm, sandy beaches, chic resorts with Yucatan style Mexican food (conchinita pibil! YAY!), and Mayan ruins. Everything I could want!!! I picture myself laying on a sunbed, under an umbrella, listening to the water as it comes ashore. This is what I call relaxation, and I can fall asleep in a heartbeat in that environment. All I need to complete the scene is a margarita, sugar no salt, blended. mmmmhhhhmmm

Mayan ruins in Tulum, Mexico

     Next stop is a little bit of historical nerdery, combined with physical exertion to burn off all that Mexican food and margaritas! Cusco, Peru. Last stop on the way to Machu Picchu, most people have to hang out in Cusco to acclimate to the extreme elevations high up in the Andres mountains. Even though you're in a generally Spanish speaking country, here you're more likely to hear the Quechan dialect since many of the residents are descended from the Inca who once ruled over much of this area of South America. Machu Picchu is a World Heritage Site, and is 45 miles from Cusco. To get to there, you must take a train from Cusco through the Sacred Valley to get to the mountaintop. Beware, the air is thin, since you're 7970 ft (2430m) above sea level. The settlement is 600 years old, and was abandoned during the Spanish conquest, even though the Spaniards never discovered it. How beautiful is this place? If you listen closely to breezes high above the rainforest, you can almost hear the Inca praying to their sun god, Inti.

Photos of Camino Inca a Machu Picchu, Cusco

This photo of Camino Inca a Machu Picchu is courtesy of TripAdvisor

     Before I indulge in more beaches, my brain isn't ready to shut off yet so it's off to Egypt! (Egypt?! You might be asking. Since this is a fantasy post, I can conveniently ignore the current political upheaval.)
     Egypt. Land of an ancient culture that fascinates us to this very day. Cleopatra, Alexander, the Ptolemies, and biblical references such as Ramses II and the parting of the Red Sea. I've dreamed of seeing the pyramids since I was a child, so a tour to the Gizeh plateau is right up my alley. The plateau is home to the pyramids and the Sphinx. After the dust of the Egyptian desert, a trip down the Nile is in order. Down the Nile I go to Luxor, called Thebes in ancient times. Here I will find the Temple at Karnak, ancient necropoli and the famous Valley of the Kings, which was the resting place of King Tutankhamen.
Luxor Photos

This photo of Luxor is courtesy of TripAdvisor

     Egypt isn't without beautiful beaches either. In fact, the coastal resort area of Sharm el-Sheikh has some of the most gorgeous waters near the Mediterranean. It sits on a strip of the Red Sea on the tip of the Sinai Peninsula, and like most countries in this region it's a good idea to just stay away in July and August. It's waaaaay too hot, with temperatures topping 100 degrees (F). There have been many peace conferences here throughout the years and it has given way to shopping and resort areas. Check out that water! Sharm el-Sheihk is a great place for diving and snorkeling, with natural reefs right off it's coasts. Are you brave enough to venture into the Dahab Blue Hole?
Sharm El Sheikh Photos

This photo of Sharm El Sheikh is courtesy of TripAdvisor

      After playing seeing one of the last wonders of the ancient world, it's off to the Indian Ocean to the next leg of the Dream Trip. Ahhhhh, the Maldives! The Maldives is a ring of islands, 52 atolls and 1192 islands to be exact, and became its own republic in 1968 after being a British protectorate. It's the most spread out country in the world. So what is there to do? Well put that scuba and snorkel gear back on because the Maldives has a crazy amount to see under the waves. Sunken ships, coral reefs, colorful fish and nice clear water. This island paradise is perfect for a couple's retreat or all by yourself. There are a variety of places to stay, and if we're going to splurge, we're going to do it right! Who wouldn't want to be lounging at the end of the day looking at this:
Maldives Photos

This photo of Maldives is courtesy of TripAdvisor

     Especially when you're staying here?! (By the way, that's Baros Maldives on the Male Atoll, and you can book a room by clicking here.)

or here?
Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru
     As I wind down coming around the globe back to the Western Hemisphere toward home in California, I'm going to make one last stop in Moorea in French Polynesia. I think I need some good food, and an opportunity for more hiking before I go home. I'm going to be tired so having some quiet time to myself is key. Where to stay? Over the water, of course!
Moorea Photos

This photo of Moorea is courtesy of TripAdvisor

     Maybe take in some Polynesian dancing, climb some of those hills, and snorkel in that gorgeous water before heading home. Check into the Legends Resort on Moorea and wake up like this:

     After Moorea, I'm exhausted. Time to fly home to Los Angeles! Maybe after this Dream Trip I won't want to hurt someone while sitting in traffic on the 405 freeway. I can dream, can't I?
So where is your dream trip?