10PM : I found myself sitting on my couch with Google Earth open on my iPad. I was planning my year and it would be based on where I plan to be - in the spring, the summer, autumn and Christmas holidays. I had "bookmarks" to work with. Having just returned from a quick vacation with family, I promised my dad I would return for his birthday in August. So I have blocked two weeks in August for Manila. Where to go before and after in Asia was the next question. I have resolved that in my quest to cover much of Europe as I can I would at the same time see as much of Asia as I can and seems only reasonable to time this when I go home. For August I was torn between my boyfriend's suggestion of meeting up in Phuket or photographing a more zen Bali or more exotic Bhutan.
I have also made a promise to my family to be home for the holidays so I will be in Manila in December. We were planning a pre-50th wedding anniversary celebration for my parents and I have been looking at doing a quick 5-7 day cruise with them embarking from either Singapore or Hong Kong. I have contacted a travel agency after I ended up with dead-end searches on the internet only to be reminded that it will be winter in China so there would be limited short cruises. Sigh...maybe we can just all go to Cebu? Or I heard the Shangri-La in Boracay is exceptional.
And then there is the problem that is May. I have made plans to return to Italy in the spring to see the sunflowers in Tuscany. When I traveled last fall they were gone and in their plan was a landscape of autumn golds, yellows, reds and browns. And yet I have also wanted to see the fjords of Norway and bask in the 24 hour daylight splendor.
Locally I have tickets to see friends in Miami, San Francisco and Chicago. Grateful for the mileage I have accumulated that feeds my wanderlust through free tickets! Cheers Delta and Continental! And cheers that even my credit card purchases go into mileage! YAY!
And then I stall... I have promised Jorge I will visit him in Madrid and I would like to see Barcelona and Zaragoza as well as see the churches of Andalucia. Spain in the fall? Andrea's stint in Geneva will end soon and I did say we would see Berne, Zurich and the southern Swiss lakes together in the summer. And then there is Prague. And then Jenny and my return to Stockholm as the girl with the butterfly tattoo in Gamla Stan.
The world is too big, so many places to see with so little time. My perfect solution is yes, to win the lottery. I will file a year long leave from my work (not resign - you want me to give up my hefty pension fund???) and just travel around the world with no clear direction. I would start with Scandinavia in the summer and then St. Petersburg. And then I would base myself again in Colle di Val D'Elsa while I discover the other parts of Tuscany ... a chance to see Bramasole finally??? Or maybe find a new base in Umbria. Then I will head back to Lyon and enjoy the bridges when it is warmer and brighter. The last time I was there was also in the autumn and 3 days of my week was rained out. I would like to return to the Vieux Lyon and stay longer - maybe 3 weeks to enjoy the cuisine and the wine and the people. Then I will proceed to Provence for the lavender fields and then to Nice. And then I will take my favorite TGV to Paris where I will get an apartment even tinier than my Manhattan flat and live there for the rest of the summer.
And when the crisp air begins to blow, I will return north to enjoy the colors. I will walk the streets of Zurich and then enjoy the Italian lakes and re-experience the magic of Tuscan countryside. Then I will head towards Nairobi where I will photograph the wilderness. I will spend days in the safaris and maybe hike Kilimanjaro. I will explore the deserts and shoot pictures of the dunes at dawn and at sunset and marvel at the brilliant colors that nature creates.
When it begins to get cold then I will be migratory like the birds and head for Asia. I have been planning to see Japan for two years now. Despite the great catastrophic earthquake and tsunami in 2011, I still believe Japan will be beautiful to see in the spring and in the fall. And then it is time to bike in Viet Nan, walk the paddies in search for Ketut in Indonesia (Eat Pray and Love anyone?). I would like to hibernate in the beaches of Bali or Phuket or just find comfort in the love of family back in Manila.
You see I know my cycles - Europe in the spring and the summer, Africa in the fall and Asia in the winter. Now I will go out and get myself a lottery ticket......