…AND ALL THE DEAD BODIES I WILL SEE!
That was not my intention but let’s go with it! That’s right, 2016 is shaping up to be the “year of the skeletal remains” which is probably somewhere in the Mayan calendar. And if so, your end of the world theory might just pan out after all.
Oh, that was back in 2012? And you’re still with us? How can that be? You were SO SURE! You bought all those canned goods!
As always, my 2016 travels are an ideal mix of new, unexplored territory and ‘been there, drank that’ oldies but goodies. I’ve done my fair share of traveling already this year but come May all the virgin fun begins. I should reword that…
For starters, I’m taking my first ever trip to Central America to fulfill two lifelong dreams: being Indiana Jones and being Jacques Cousteau. (I really shot for the stars as a kid. But at some point I missed and ended up as a cashier at Target.) Next up is a brief stop, and most likely a salmon dinner, in the land of the Vikings and the home of the paperclip. Betcha didn’t know that about Norway! Followed by a few days in the beer drinking capital of the world helping them maintain their prestigious title. What have you done for the global good lately?
Have you been to any of the following places? Recommend your things to me!
MAY – JUNE // BELIZE
I knew almost nothing about Belize when I booked the flights. (For the record, I now know just slightly more than nothing.) This trip came about as a compromise between myself, the adventurer with a penchant for structured, bloated itineraries, and my husband who prefers to be on an island somewhere with a drink in his hand doing nothing. Relaxing. All day. All day relaxing. Omg no. I’m great at traveling but terrible at vacations.
Turns out, Belize is the best for both of us! Jungle adventures + rum punch. Rainforest hiking + Caribbean fishing. Toucans + stingrays. The possibility of a jaguar sneaking into our jungle cabin during the night + the probability of an eel brushing up against my bare legs.
IN THE JUNGLE, THE MIGHTY JUNGLE
… they have jaguars. The healthiest wild population of jaguars in the world actually. So that’s something to be psyched about. That is, if you’re like me and completely lack the fear response when it comes to hungry apex predators. Times Square Elmo? “Back away creep! I’ve got pepper spray!” A bloodthirsty jungle cat? “Kitties! Let’s snuggle!”
We’ll be staying at the Black Rock River Lodge and y’all, this place is so dreamy. Cabins deep in the misty jungle, overlooking a river (with waterfalls), and nothing but a canopy of stars and the sounds of the jungle to keep you company. Where howler monkeys bring you beers on silver platters and braid your hair. It’s going to be magical.
- Actun Tunichil Muknal // Or the “ATM cave” for those of us who don’t speak Mayan. A hiking + swimming + climbing + cave adventure and the reason I just bought some really ugly hiking sandals. Used. The ATM cave is an ancient Mayan burial site for human sacrifices and apparently dishes. There’s a calcified skeleton that sparkles like diamonds from its 1,000 years in the cave. Long live skeletal remains! Or… not…
As stated in my Belize guidebook, “As long as you are in adequate physical condition–you have to hike almost an hour, swim in neck-deep water, and clamber through dark, claustrophobic underground chambers–this is sure to be the most memorable tour you’ll take in Belize.” Now THAT’S my ideal vacation! Let’s do more of that.
- Various other jungle activities // Our lodge offers tons of on-site activities including hiking (probs gonna do that), birding (y’all know I love birds), canoeing, river tubing, aaaand they have goats so forget everything I said ’cause I’m just going to hang out with the goats and nothing more. Jungle snuggles!
ON AN ISLAND IN THE SUN
…we’ll be playing and having fun but not listening to Weezer. We will, however, be “going slow.” The unofficial motto of Caye Caulker, one of Belize’s adorbs off-coast islands, is “Go slow in Caye Caulker” and as you can imagine I’m having a hard time with this. Can we go back to that clamber through claustrophobic underground chambers thing? No? It will take much rum to tortoise this hare but a true effort I will make!
- Snorkeling // We’ve got our Full Day Tour booked with Caveman Snorkeling Tours since off the coast of Belize is the world’s second largest barrier reef, second only to that Great one. We’ll be seeing some coral gardens, checking out a shipwreck (!!!), and we’ll also have a swim over at Shark Ray Alley and I think, I think you may know what I’ll find there. Swimming with sharks is my dream! I’ve swum with dolphins and whales in Hawaii and now it’s time to move on to scarier animals with sharper teeth… who still hopefully want to snuggle.
- Fishing // Because when your vacation-coma husband wants to do an ACTIVITY, you do it! Also, the restaurants will cook whatever you catch for your dinner so yeah, that’s totally happening.
- Various other island activities that involve no physical movement other than lifting rum punch and inserting into mouth. There will be hammocks.
- Our trip to Belize will also feature a day trip to…..
UPDATE: I’ve returned from Belize. Check out what I got up to:
- What to Pack for Belize (and What I Can’t Belize I Brought)
- Black Rock Lodge // Welcome to the Jungle
- Snorkeling in Belize with the Caye Caulker Caveman
MAY // GUATEMALA
Go big or go home, right? When I learned Belize was the capital of Maya Ruin-dom, I knew I had to cash in on that. So I went for the biggest of them all… aaand it’s not even in Belize. #facepalm
According to my Belize guidebook that includes a section on side trips to Guatemala, “Arguably the most impressive of all Mayan sites, and rivaling even Machu Picchu in Peru and Angkor Wat in Cambodia in its ancient splendor, Tikal is a must-see, if only on a day trip from Belize.” I’m coming for you Indy! Choose wisely! CHOOSE WISELY!
I have four specific goals for my day at Tikal:
- Climb the temples for gorgeous scenes of the complex poking out of the rainforest canopy
- See a monkey
- Learn about stuff
- Hold a tarantula
OK, I’m back. I think I fainted after typing that last one. As a lifelong arachnophobe I’m really swinging for the fence here but what is life without impossible challenges that may prove fatal?
UPDATE: I’ve returned from Guatemala. Check out what I got up to:
SEPTEMBER // NORWAY
I’ll touch down in Oslo for a 24-hour layover between Boston and Prague and how much salmon do you think I can eat in that period? Back in typical travel mode I’ll be squeezing in about seven days worth of sightseeing into these 24 hours so I’d like to extend a preemptive apology to my husband for that one.
Have you been to Oslo? What should I do? Where should I eat? Also, where exactly is Norway? BRB.
UPDATE: I’ve returned from Norway. Check out what I got up to:
SEPTEMBER // CZECH REPUBLIC
I’ve been trying to get to Prague for years and finally it’s happening as a precursor to Oktoberfest 2016! I’ll be in Prague for four days and I’m looking forward to a little less beer talk and a lot more beer action with six of my best friends.
- Beer spas // Y’all seen this? Spas where you soak in oak-barrel-hot-tubs of beer… while drinking beer… take a steam in the hop sauna… relax on a bed of wheat straw? OK sure, twist my arm. Gah! For future reference: This is an acceptable form of relaxation.
- The PUB // A bar where every table comes with four beer taps of its very own. Oh, you think that’s risky? How about the fact that each table has a video screen that keeps track of how much beer your table has had… and then scores your table against all the other tables in the restaurant in some kind of twisted beer drinking competition? I DON’T FORESEE ANY PROBLEMS HERE WHATSOEVER. I mean, I’m still going…
- Medieval stuff // Prague Castle, the Charles Bridge, something about a clock
- And a day trip to…
MORE BONES! Actually, probably ALL the bones. We’ll be making the short trip to the town of Kutná Hora specifically to visit the Sedlec Ossuary – a church decorated with 40,000 human skeletons. If skeletal remains are needed for your apocalypse survival kit, this is where you need to be; there’s plenty and I’ve been told they last 1,000 years. Can your creamed corn say the same thing?
The photos in the above link are worth checking out in case I sound like a total weirdo. IT’S ART AND IT’S BEAUTIFUL, OK?!
I don’t know much else about the town itself but that’s the beauty of traveling to unexplored destinations. I’ll find it all out when I get there!
UPDATE: I’ve returned from the Czech Republic. Check out what I got up to:
⇢ [Want to see what kinda shenanigans I get up to when I get there?
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WHERE WILL YOU BE TRAVELING FOR THE FIRST TIME THIS YEAR?
All other photos came from Pixabay.
This post contains affiliate links but all opinions and obsessions with Fodor’s guidebooks are my own.