It has been over a month since I wrote part one of my travel bucket list; My Travel Bucket List: Within the U.S.. In that post, I explain the newfound inspiration I have for wanting to see, and experience, new places.
Surprisingly, it was more difficult for me to narrow down my list of places I’d like to visit outside the United States, than it was for destinations within.
So, the moment you have all been waiting for….my travel [abroad] bucket list:
I have always been extremely proud of being part Irish. I don’t know how big of a part it truly plays in my DNA, but I don’t care! If you ask me, I am two things: Irish and Sicilian (I will get to that later in the post)
My Great Grandmother lived near the border of Northern and Southern Ireland when she was young. And after all her years spent in the United States, she still had her Irish accent, which was one of the things I remember most. I always thought it was really “cool” that she spoke that way and I felt like my family was really special for having a member with an accent from another country (kids think the weirdest things, don’t they?)
I never grew out of my childish pride for my Irish roots. From lamb stew to St. Patrick’s Day, and from good ale to all things shamrocks (not four leaf clovers!) Even if my pride is very Americanized, I have no shame in it. And although I mentioned in my first travel bucket list post that the list isn’t in any particular order, Ireland would be the number one place I would travel if given the opportunity.
Like my pride in being of Irish decent, I am equally as proud to be Sicilian! My [paternal] grandmother is half Sicilian and I grew up learning the ways of my Sicilian background from the beginning. My grandma was very close to her grandmother (who was born in Sicily) and she always says that her and I remind her of how they used to be. She always shares stories of her time with her grandparents, and the wonderful food she learned to cook with her grandmother. The pride she has in being Sicilian naturally rubbed off on me, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Naturally, when creating a bucket list of countries to see, Sicily was a no-brainer!
The Artichoke Festival in Ramacca promotes the violet artichoke, also called “Violetto Ramacchese”, which has been harvested along the countryside of Ramacca (a village in the province of Catania) for centuries. I originally learned about this festival by watching a travel show where the host visited Sicily during the time that the festival was being held. During the program he ate these delicious thistles in a variety of ways but, what really intrigued me was the artichoke gelato, that apparently is very popular!
If/When I go to Sicily, I will make it a point to visit during this event. And because my Great Great Grandmother bears the name of Sicily’s third largest city, I couldn’t leave without visiting Messina.
I don’t know much about Messina aside from the statue of the Madonna della Lettera (which I still only know very little about) but if given the chance, I would explore my little heart out in this city and possibly try to trace anything I could from my families history. One day!
Who doesn’t want to visit France? The streets fresh with the scent of fresh bread and romance. Not to mention the most-visited paid monument in the world; The Eiffel Tower.
But, I don’t want to go there. Where I want to go is the south of France. More specifically, the region of Provence.
I’ll be honest, years ago I wanted to go to France to experience the food, and the baking (I did go to Le Cordon Bleu culinary school for baking and pastry arts) but things changed in my life, and I lost interest in visiting this country. It wasn’t until I came across the painting, “Starry Night Over the Rhone” by Vincent van Gogh that my interest was reignited. I can’t explain it but this piece of art really moved me the first time I saw it. I then researched where the Rhone actually was and by coincidence, I found out that the region of Provence is also known for its lavender fields. I love lavender. At that point, there was no question about adding France to my travel bucket list.
Hobbiton (New Zealand)
Anyone who knows me well, knows I am obsessed with The Lord of the Rings trilogy (also the Hobbit trilogy…don’t judge me) Because of this love affair, New Zealand has made it to my honorable mentions list.
Vietnam is another place that I never considered visiting. It wasn’t until I started to get to know my Vietnamese brother-in-law, his family, and then my niece being born, that I wanted to learn all I could about their culture (and their food…duh!)
It didn’t hurt that Anthony Bourdain did a [very well known] episode of Parts Unknown in Hanoi which only added to my interest.
I can only imagine that this list will grow with time. Maybe even produce a third installment of My Travel Bucket List series. Stay tuned….