Top Destinations by Travel Writers for 2015

Check this out! Top Destinations of 2015 picked out by travel writers from an Australian Publisher! Both Ecuador and Ireland were on the list! Both were the places I went to in 2014.

This is great read for those who have places in mind to go to this coming year, but cannot seem to make a decision. My only comments are that:

Ecuador: Has so much more than the Galapagos Islands. I was so so

Jamu Lodge
Danielle and I at the lodge int he Amazon

disappointed when I had to chop up my trip and had to give up going there this time. I had to use my time extremely wisely. I fell in love with the country though! I will go back to see the Galapagos someday, but there is plenty that Ecuador has to offer! For one thing: the Amazon is in desperate need of support so the oil mongers do not tear it down. Some of the tribes we met were under the impression that if they had more tourists perhaps the area would be valued more and not torn down. And visiting Puerto Lopez and the humpback whales was one of the most influential and best experiences I have ever had overseas.

Puerto Lopez
Humpback Whales!

Ireland: Many Irish folk told me “Relax. Don’t try to see too much. Have a pint” and while that advice is all well and good, there is SO much to see in Ireland. We spent 11 days driving the coast from Dublin, over to Cork, and up the Wild Atlantic Way to Connemara. If we didn’t keep moving like we had, we would’ve missed some of the

Wild Atlantic Way
Wild Atlantic Way, Ireland

best sites I have ever seen. The country is beyond beautiful and the history overfloweth! My best advice is to push yourself a little bit. Not to the point of not having a good time, but try to keep at it. It is well worth the effort!

Morning Wanderlust Surprise

Today I mistakenly saw a sight that made me smile more than I have in a while. It wasn’t really what I thought it was. I mean I wasn’t having visions or anything, but for some reason my brain was in the right setting to incorrectly translate something I saw on my way to work. Today the skies are grey, but it is not too cold. It is a

Canterbury
Outside the Canterbury Cathedral

temperature to wear a sweatshirt and jeans (maybe even a skirt with boots). I had sweat compiling at the seam of my hat by my fidora, because I was wearing too many layers in fact. No bright sunlight, but not uncomfortable. The wind was blowing just right for a December. I often have thoughts about England in the Chicago pre-winter conditions, but at this particular moment I was not consciously thinking about England.
I walked to the stoplight, but realized the light had just turned for the other direction, so I stopped. I checked my iphone for the time then looked down the street to see if there was a pause in the cars so I could skip across. That’s when my mind fooled me. I had a sudden jolt in my stomach. A pulse of butterflies filled me. It was a moment where I actually had to say to myself, “No Shannon, you are in Chicago.”
There, in the sky, was a steeple with a crown-like silhouette. It was

Canterbury, Kent
Canterbury, England

sight I had stared at everyday, 9 years ago, on my way to University. I had actually mistaken this Edgewater church for the Canterbury Cathedral. It must have been the right setting at the right time. I was on my way to work, like would have been on my way to school at this time of day years ago, the clouds were overcast, but it was warm and comfortable outside, so my mind triggered a thought that was completely fabricated. I think my jaw even dropped.
My stomach had jumped, but not in a way of shock or surprise. I had jumped in a surge of happiness and excitement. I stared at the Edgewater church for a while even after I realized the truth. I wanted it to be the Canterbury Cathedral so much. I have been having a rough time at home and in my everyday life lately, it was so wonderful to have this moment of pure happiness. Thoughts of Canterbury always make me smile. It was the only “real” time I was living overseas and made me feel special to called the sweet town Home.

Canterbury Cathedral
Canterbury Cathedral

A Child’s Curiosity of the World

Guess what just came in the mail at my work????

Bella’s suitcase! Not just any suitcase…oh no….a BATMAN suitcase!

potterybarn suitcases
IT CAME! SUCCESS!!

I was just as excited when Gia’s Hello Kitty suitcase arrived a couple weeks ago. Bright Pink. Hard Shell. And on wheels. I think I may have rubbed off a little on Wayne’s two daughters. I am not sure when or how, but they have my extreme love of travel at 4 and 5 years old. Luckily they don’t read yet so I can tell you that Santa Claus has

Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat Chicago
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at the Cadillac Theatre Chicago

gotten them suitcases, embroidered toiletry bags with their names, travel stamps, stickers, pretend passports to stamp, travel coloring books, and I am thinking that luggage tags are in their near future! I never thought I would find Bella’s request of a Batman one, but thanks to Potterybarn kids…success!!!

In the time that I have known them, I have been to Japan, Ireland, and Ecuador. Their great-grandma took a trip to England and Scotland. Their aunt went to live in Abu Dhabi for a little while. This has all probably been a great influence. Gia says she wants to live in China and Bella always says something slightly different. I am so proud of their curiosity of the world and how much they want to learn about it. I was already planning on buying them

Family in Chicago
Family in Chicago

suitcases, especially for when they come to visit us in Chicago, but then we went to a store and they saw suitcases and have been obsessed with them. They are now saying all they want for Christmas is this dog toy thing and suitcases. I cannot wait to give them to the girls!

Annabella the Traveler
Annabella the Traveler

Their excitement makes ME so excited as well! I love to teach them about new places and showing them pictures of all the places I have been to. I cannot believe how much they are showing a passion and curiosity for it at so young of an age. It makes me feel so special to be a part of their growing up in this way. I even signed them up for Little Passports, which is so much fun and valuable to their education about the world!