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2011 vacation dreams and realities: What readers said

We asked readers where they would go if money and time were no object, and where they were likely to go in 2011. Thailand for dental work, one said. A trip with a friend to France, another said. Here are some of the other responses. Bon voyage!

Waking in an Amazon tree house

My fantasy travel trip is the Amazonian rain forest. I have been fascinated by wild jungles, the Amazon River and Mother Nature's vast wonders since childhood, so this remains a mesmerizing and mysterious part of the world that I fantasize about. Spending a few enthralling weeks exploring and photographing to my soul's content while my health and energy levels are still vitally intact, to experience, sleep and then awaken in an Amazonian tree house is a constant dreamy thought.

The reality vacation will include driving to the Grand Canyon's South Rim to hike and stay in a cabin this May, a four-day affair. I'm hoping my still-single young adult son will join me. It will be the first time for either of us to see and experience this nearby wonder of the world, but we're hoping to make this a new annual cost-conscious destination. We also plan on Catalina Island. Two Harbors Campground is an annual spring/summer traditional destination and has been for 35 years. Hiking or lazing about on this roomy part of the isle during hot days, cool evenings, hazy dawns and soft dusks; imbibing a buffalo milk in the village outdoor bar; or just gazing happily at bobbing boats in the harbor and Los Angeles' lights afar and sparkling stars above is simply a gift that is personally spiritual.

Daniel J. Marquez, Redlands

Newborn calves in Baja

I booked a trip for March that has been on my bucket list for several years: Baja California to San Ignacio Lagoon to see female whales just after giving birth. It is said that they proudly bring their offspring to passengers in small boats.

I booked the trip through Road Scholar, formerly known as Elder Hostel. I am 79, and it will be my first trip with this organization.

June Smith, Capitola, Calif.

The big time in Bel-Air

I am no longer a fan of airline travel, so my ideal plan would be to be the first person to check into the new presidential suite at the Hotel Bel-Air. In reality, however, I'll settle for a standard.

Karen Spaulding, Santa Barbara

A milestone in Maldives

Maldives for our 40th wedding anniversary.

Carissa Schlosser, Los Angeles

Pining for the fiords

Time and money unlimited? The Hurtigruten mail and passenger boats up the coast of Norway. Famous for their visits to remote and picturesque seafaring coastal communities, fiords, wildlife and wilderness. And now, by a quirk of fate, we will be doing the 12-day adventure from Bergen to Kirkenes, Norway. As the Hurtigruten catalog says, "Take the time to enjoy the voyage you always dreamed of." We intend to.

Ken Kropf, Seal Beach

A birthday whirlwind

For my birthday in March, my husband is taking me to see the Saadian tombs, El Badi Palace and the astonishing Djemaa el Fna in Marrakech, Morocco, then on to Las Palmas at the Canary Islands; Funchal Madeira, Portugal; Málaga, Spain, and the Alhambra Palace; and Barcelona for people watching on Las Ramblas and having some paella and sangria. It's so much fun visiting, learning and making new friends.

Marci and Paul Judd, Altadena

First, wonderful Istanbul

Three couples are flying to Istanbul in September. This will be my fourth visit to Istanbul and much of Turkey, one of my favorite countries. There is so much to see and do that you could easily spend a week without seeing it all: whirling dervishes, spectacular mosques and palaces including Topkapi, a naval museum with 200-foot-long oar-powered boats, the cisterns, great food, one of the busiest bodies of water coupled with great views, etc. From there we cruise to Venice, with stops on the west coast of Turkey, the Greek Isles and the Dalmatian coast.

Curtis Reis, Rolling Hills

North to Alaska, by car

If I had unlimited time and money, I would travel round trip from Los Angeles to Alaska by car (and ferry). The reasons are obvious: two unusual modes of transportation, bypass the incredibly obnoxious airlines and airline security, see incredible natural scenery.

Steve Stillman, Redondo Beach

A cruise around the world

If time and money were unlimited, I would be signed up for a world cruise in 2011. I love to cruise, and I would love to see more of the world and be able to relax and be pampered.

Realistically, in March we will go skiing to Colorado or Utah. We plan another vacation in September/October to Wyoming, the Montana area and/or Idaho.

Sue Paez, Chino

Racking up the wonders

Since we will be 76 and 70, respectively, we plan to complete our objective of visiting the seven wonders of the modern world: The Great Wall of China and the Taj Mahal. Our itinerary is Beijing, Delhi, India; and Capetown, South Africa, with a side trip to Nairobi/Masai Mara.

Dolores and John Juarez, Huntington Beach

My dream vacation for 2011 would be a cruise around the world. In 2011, though, I'm actually vacationing at six home exchanges. At the beginning of the year, I will share a lake view cabin in Big Bear with my family playing in the snow. In February, we are exchanging at a condo near the beach in Coronado. March brings a large house in Phoenix to enjoy spring training. This summer we will be in three exchanges in Europe: a villa overlooking the Mediterranean in Javea, Spain; an ocean view condo in Nice, France; and a renovated 100-year-old chalet in Kandersteg, Switzerland. These homes will be exchanges Nos. 45-50; since 2003 I've found this an enlightening way to travel that brings the world together.

Julie Martini, Huntington Beach

Time to see the UAE

I am planning to take a Royal Caribbean cruise to the United Arab Emirates and India in April/May. I toured India and Nepal 20 years ago but have wanted to see the Emirates. We toured the Kashmir section of India on the earlier trip, spending several days on a houseboat on Dall Lake. We had to get on the floor of the bus when we left passing through the city of Srinagar so we would not get shot. Also planning to use my frequent flier miles to tour four Hawaiian islands in October.

Don McPoland, Glendale

The grandchildren's grand tour

I plan to take two of my grandchildren, both of whom will be 15, to Europe next summer for three weeks. We will start in Rome, then head to Florence, with a side trip to Venice. Then a night in lovely Stresa, Italy, and then on to Offenburg, Germany, with side trips from there. We will head to Wurzburg and then to Dresden to see the beautiful rebuilt city. From there, we will spend a day in Berlin and also a day in Prague, Czech Republic. Then it is back to Frankfurt and home. All our traveling will be done by Europe's great Eurail Trains.

Dorothy Smotrys, Torrance

China can wait

My wife and I and another couple have been talking about going to China for several years. After much planning and postponing, we decided to go on our China trip, and we recently put a deposit down and booked our passage on a Viking River cruise/tour of China for June. I even managed to book round-trip business class air using frequent flier miles. Three days later, our daughter and son-in-law informed us that they were expecting and the due date was right in the middle of the trip. So much for all the planning. We immediately and gladly canceled our flights and cruise.

China is still on our list, and I expect we'll get there some day, just not in 2011. And we're very happy about that.

Alan Rosen, Tarzana

The lure of life off Belize

I've been trying to figure out how to return to the gorgeous waters of the Caribbean off Belize. I was there in January 2009, on the atoll of Turneffe. From that lovely spot we visited several reefs and snorkeled different ones morning and afternoon for a week, learning the species we were to count and record for a baseline of life on the reefs.

I've snorkeled the Red Sea at Eilat; Bora Bora and Moorea in French Polynesia; Hawaii several times; islands in the Gulf of California and Isla Mujeres in Mexico. Bora Bora used to be my favorite, but I now prefer Belize.

Pat McCully, Huntington Beach

Oahu within reach

Money permitting, we would like to go to Oahu. There are several reasons for this choice, including the fact that you can usually get some pretty good deals. We will become grandparents in June, so we will probably be spending some money for the new baby, which will be a great joy and quite a 40th wedding anniversary present.

Myra Clough, Duarte

Old-school touring

If time and money were unlimited, we'd take Amtrak to Miami and board a cruise ship headed back to Los Angeles by way of the Panama Canal. We'd also like to take the train to Chicago from L.A. and back.

Greg Kreinbring, Ontario

Italy in mind, D.C. in reality

If funds were unlimited, my entire family would whisk away to Venice, Italy. Instead, we're going to Washington, D.C.

Johnny Young

Revisiting wartime stations

My husband, a Vietnam War veteran, has recently expressed a longing to revisit the countries and Air Force bases where he was stationed from 1967 to 1971. He often talks about his time in the service and loves to tell stories (some sad, some happy) about his F-4 crew mates who served with him at Yokota Air Base in Japan and Clark Air Base in the Philippines. Several former Vietnam-era vets we know have made trips to Vietnam and Southeast Asia and have told us the trip was cathartic and life-changing. I feel that visiting these countries and sites would be a wonderful experience for us. While in the service, he also flew with a flight crew to Australia and New Zealand; those destinations have been on our "wish list" for a long time.

Marcia Israel, Agoura Hills

Handing down the continental experience

Where: Venice, Italy; Paris and Lucerne, Switzerland

Why: Grandchildren (8-year-old twin girls and a 10-year-old boy) have been told stories about these cities since early ages. Grandpop wants to make the dream come true. We will be a group of seven: Grandpop, Grandmom, our son and his wife, and their three children — two weeks in late June.

Vincent Bruno, Santa Monica

A European itinerary

Plan to travel to Europe and cruise either Europe or Mediterranean (Italy and Spain)

Betty Brennan, Sherman Oaks

Hiking throuth the Swiss Alps

We're living our vacation dream in 2011. We are planning on a two-week walking expedition through the Swiss Alps with Sherpa Expeditions (http://www.sherpa-walking-holidays.co.uk/). This trip appears to offer everything we look for in a vacation: activity, scenery and independence, with a little support thrown in by the tour company to keep things simple.

We'll be flying into Zurich and taking a train to Engelberg, where our walking tour begins. We'll cover about 100 miles and thousands of feet in elevation change over 13 days, with our luggage, a hot dinner and a soft bed awaiting us each night.

Tamara Reddy, Brea

Make mine Mediterranean!

I would take a Mediterranean Cruise with my husband of more than 50 years. If the L.A. Times is giving one away, put my name in!

Otherwise, I have a trip planned in January to a place I've never been, Costa Rica, with my family. We're going on a 10-day Caravan Tour. This should be quite an adventure for all of us.

Claire Knodell, Oceanside

Incredible India

The pull of India is irresistible. Every positive aspect of travel exists — the sights within the cities, the streets, the myriad faces. It's steeped in colorful traditions, and it seduces and transforms the traveler.

Brian Haimer, Malibu

Regal Rockies

If money were no object, I would travel with my husband on the Royal Canadian Rockies Experience, a totally decadent train trip (http://www.royalcanadianpacific.com/rockiesexperience.html) in restored vintage cars. National Geographic Traveler flagged it as a "Tour of a Lifetime." Sounds perfectly grand.

For now, though, we'll be using frequent-flier miles to London, where we will visit our granddaughter who is studying there for a semester. We then plan to take the train to Edinburgh, Scotland, and then drive to Peebles, where my grandfather was born. Not a bad trip, but not one in which we can indulge ourselves in unbridled luxury like the Royal Canadian Rockies train ride.

Cathie Brown, Los Osos, Calif.

Chew on this

How about a dental vacation to Thailand? I am 60 and want to have at least one more good time before I take a dirt nap, plus doctors here want $50,000 to fix my teeth. I can pay $14,000 in Thailand.

Noelle Drew, Culver City

Local luxury

If time and money weren't an issue, we would travel to Jerusalem to take my wife's 82-year-old mother; Machu Picchu, Peru, to have the spirits move us; Rio to dance in the streets during Carnival; and Paris to embrace the sights and romance of the city.

But we'll be closer to home: My wife and I will ring in the New Year at L.A. Live by spending two nights at the JW Marriott. The weekend before Valentine's Day, we will fly to the Bay Area to visit my 102-year-old uncle and travel to Vacaville to visit my wife's sister. In March, I will attend the Black Ski Summit in Steamboat, Colo.

In October, my wife and I plan to go to Vegas to celebrate our anniversary. We celebrated our 30th this year at the Aria; next year we plan to stay at the Cosmopolitan.

The Friday after Thanksgiving, my sisters and I do a day and night staycation to remember and celebrate our mother's life. November of next year will be our fourth annual, and it's my turn to select the accommodations. The Montage Hotel in Beverly Hills is being considered.

Chris Watkins, Los Angeles

Greece is the word

If time and money were unlimited, my husband and I would go on a cruise of some Greek islands to celebrate his 60th birthday. We would choose Greece, and specifically the islands, because it would be warm, sunny, beautiful, and it would make us feel young and carefree. Also, my husband is a fan of Greek history.

Anna Dixon, Long Beach

Vineyard time

If time and money were unlimited, I would travel throughout France for an entire vineyard year.

For me, that would be pure heaven. In April, I am taking my best friend from college ( UCLA '76) on a whirlwind two-week trip to share with her some of my favorite spots in France and Italy.

After a few days absorbing the ever-changing Paris scene, we will pick up a rental car and journey to Burgundy. We will make the quintessential Abbaye de la Bussière our home base, while meandering through the vineyards and villages. Then it's onward to Italy, along the coast to Rapallo, Santa Margherita and the Cinque Terre. Then, we'll head inland to Montecatini and the rolling hillsides of Tuscany. Two full days in Florence, overnight in Verona, and two more days in Venice should satisfy our penchant for museums and cathedrals and history — until I return home, and plan my next journey.

Julie Blumberg, Newport Beach

Stay awhile

Next summer we plan to continue our ongoing exploration of Europe by finally heading east of Munich. We are heading to Austria, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia and Slovenia. We are expecting the people to be as friendly and nice as they have been in all the countries we have visited so far. There is a great value in spending enough time in each country to get to know it.

Kenneth J. Hoffer, Santa Monica

Using a refund

Our cruise on Carnival's Splendor, scheduled for next month, was canceled because of the ship fire. We decided use our refund to travel on a cruise in June to the Mediterranean, somewhere we have been aiming to visit for a long time.

Tony Miranda, Lancaster

Hello, Asia

Our first trip of the year will be to Hong Kong, Bangkok and Singapore to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary as well as a significant birthday. In addition to touring these cities, we will travel on the Eastern and Oriental Express from Bangkok to Singapore. We are looking forward to staying at the Raffles Hotel when in Singapore. This will be our first trip to Asia.

Our second trip will be with my husband's family to Fort Myers, Fla., in March to see the Boston Red Sox in spring training. We're planning to rent a house there.

Our last trip of the year will be renting a motor home and driving to Oregon. We're testing our retirement dream, which is to travel the country in a motor home. We're doing it now in small bites to see if this lifestyle suits us. We will visit the wine areas of Oregon.

L. and P. Japp, Los Angeles

Due south

Unlimited time and money: To experience extreme opposites in one vacation, I would combine two cruises — one to Antarctica (covering much of Chile and Argentina) and one to include the Amazon (covering much of Brazil). And knowing that the price to Antarctica will start at $10,000 a person (because the only travel option will be on smaller ships), this would warrant an "unlimited" source of funds. Some of the above will be accomplished with a 30-day cruise to South America early next year with additional stops on land to Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro. However, no stops in Antarctica or the Amazon. The diverse beauty of the scenery (Chilean fjords and glaciers, immense water volume of Iguazu Falls and Rio's picturesque mountains and beaches) and experiencing the differing cultures of the various South American countries that will be visited was a major factor in selecting these destinations.

Dale and Barbara Joyner, Culver City

Fit for goddesses

With unlimited funds, I would go to Greece on the Goddesses Go to Greece luxury tour. I think I would melt right into the azure Aegean Sea. Delicious.

Anne Youngblood, Brentwood

It's no safari

Time is not a problem as much as money. I'd love to go on safaris, traveling from Kenya and Tanzania overland past Victoria Falls to Botswana, and winding up in South Africa. Instead, I'll go on another budget trip, riding the rails from Singapore to eastern Thailand, taking buses to Siem Reap and Saigon, and then trains to Hanoi, Guilin, Beijing, Ulan Bator, Irkutsk and Moscow, from which I'll fly home via Istanbul.

Carl Boyer, Santa Clarita

On the road again

In the early fall of 2011, we are planning a car trip, with friends, traveling from Southern California to Chicago, St. Louis, New Orleans and back. We haven't been on a car trip since we took our four grandchildren on a trip to Las Vegas, Salt Lake, Reno, Nev., San Francisco, Monterey Bay Aquarium and back home. It has taken us 10 years to recuperate!

Don & Yvonne Phillips, Big Bear

An eventful 80th

I will be 80 years old in 2011, am married and in reasonable health.

Our travel plans: Maui in December for rest and relaxation. Tucson for gem and jewelry shows in February.

Montreal in May. Pacific Grove in June for a family reunion and my 80th birthday party.

Murray Rosenbluth, Port Hueneme

A Grand time

We are rafting the Colorado River in 2011, spending eight days running the rapids. I've always wanted to raft the Colorado, partly because my parents made sure I was infected with the love of the canyon through backpacking trips during my adolescence. Although I have traveled around the world, no destination has replaced the Grand Canyon in my heart. I have been to the bottom of the canyon many times but never spent more than three days at a time inside the walls. That I will be inside those ancient red walls for over a week is almost too good to be true. I can't wait.

Nancy Steele, Altadena

Plenty in U.S.

With unlimited time and money, my 2011 travel plans would focus on the United States. Some travelers might yawn over a domestic itinerary, but my eyes haven't yet seen many parts of my native country. Now's a good time to savor a taste of each state's landscapes, history, food and residents. I hope to celebrate a big birthday by spending a long weekend in London with my younger sister, who lives in Berlin, before going to Edinburgh to visit a high school friend and absorb Festival Fringe. Doesn't that sound like a brilliant way to celebrate a 40th birthday?

Amy Hooper, Costa Mesa

Home to Germany

My funds are limited for traveling, but that won't deter me. I am originally from Germany and have not been there in at least 10 years. My 11-year-old needs to see where I am from and what makes me who I am. We will go on a fantastic castle-hopping tour in Bavaria. We will start in the northern part, where I'm from, and tour a bunch of old ruins and (for me) taste some great, intensely rich and dry wine of the "Frankenland," eat mushroom stew and venison — I can taste it already. As we head southbound, driving along the "romantic street," we will, I hope, partake in some of the traditional wine or beer fests. We will stay at small-town bed-and-breakfasts or stay with the locals, who are often open to renting out cheap rooms. One for sure thing will be the bike tours through the Taubertal and a city tour of Rothenburg, one of the true antiques of the Medieval area.

Sigrid Caldera, Monrovia

Just cruising

My wife, Monica, and I will cruise around the Australian continent on the Dawn Princess, with a pre-cruise stay in Sydney. Then in summer back-to-back cruises: a Greek Isle cruise ( Athens to Istanbul) and a Black Sea cruise with pre- and post-cruise stays in Athens and Istanbul, respectively. In December, an island-hopping cruise in the Indonesian archipelago with a pre-cruise stay in Singapore and a post-cruise side trip to India.

Murali Srinivasan, Marina del Rey

Grandkids' requests

In a weak moment I promised all eight of my grandchildren I would take them on a trip of their choice when they graduated from high school. We have done Indonesia, Japan, Egypt, a Caribbean cruise and Africa. It wasn't until a few years ago I realized I will have two graduating in 2011, and they're holding their Grammy to her promise. Granddaughter Kristina has dreamed of visiting Paris, so we're taking a river cruise on the Seine and ending in the city of her dreams. Grandson Kurt chose Australia and New Zealand. Thank goodness, the next and last grandchild doesn't graduate until 2017.

Norma Boehne, Temple City

Swim with sea turtles

My girlfriends and I are going to Costa Careyes in January for a week of beach riding, sun and swimming with the sea turtles. We read about how safe and preserved the area is and want to support Mexico as a destination. There is a wonderful sea turtle sanctuary there we hope to visit and a new cultural center. It is low-key and just what we all need to start the new year.

Laura Urquidez, Ballard, Calif.

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