This is the third part in my ranking of the best 24 vacations I have been on so far.
#12 The Black Forest, Rhone River, Bern and Sion
This trip involved a trip to Bonn where we met with members of the German Bundestag, after which I took a train down the Rhone (yes, I know a boat would have been better but I didn't have the money or the time) and went to Basel, realized how polluted it was, and then went to Bern. Bern was a wonderful small town where I hiked around a bit. Having some extra time but not knowing where to go I went into a bookstore and looked at pictures from Switzerland. The town of Sion stood out the most to me, so I arranged to go there - taking a glass covered train on a roundabout route to get a good look at the alps. Sion was incredibly beautiful and I highly recommend it to anyone. On the way back I spent a few days near Freiburg in the Black Forest which was very serene and nice.
#11 Kauai and Maui
For our honeymoon, my wife and I went to Kauai and Maui. Kauai was amazing, and we stayed at the Hyatt Regency there which at the time was the best hotel we had ever stayed at. We took the helicopter tour of the island which was also incredible. In Maui, I liked the Hana Highway area and Molokini but the island in general disappointed me. It just didn't feel very hawaiian. In Kauai we ate at open air restaurants that looked Hawaiian. Our breakfasts had fresh pineapple next to a pond where swans would swim up to us. In Maui we ate at Dennys. Still, Kauai made up for what was lacking in Maui.
#10 Bavaria, Lake Constance, and Liechtenstein
On my spring break while studying abroad in Berlin I decided to take a trip to Bavaria. My original idea was to visit medieval German towns so I started out with Munich, then Nuremburg, Regensburg, and Passau. These towns were very pretty and very interesting, especially Passau, but I decided to try something different so I headed for Lake Constance. In the travel guide it mentioned how one can see the mountains beyond the lake and since I love mountains I expected it to be beautiful. Unfortunately the weather and town was horrible there so I headed for the Principality of Liechtenstein. Liechtenstein was very beautiful and I hiked around there a bit.
Singapore was my first look at Asia and my first trip somewhere other than North America or Europe. We spent two weeks there and to many people's surprise we were constantly busy. Sentosa Island, where we stayed, was very nice and the zoo, night safari, and bird zoo are rivaled only by the parks in San Diego. The city of Singapore itself was very interesting and I often wish that we would adopt some of the stricter laws they have there - perhaps then we would approach how safe and clean that city is.
#8 Moscow and St. Petersburg
Having studied Russian before going there, I expected to fall in love with St. Petersburg and get by in Moscow, but my reaction at the time (1995) was the complete opposite. St. Petersburg of course has the palace and the Hermitage, one of the six great art museums in the world, but Moscow has the Red Square and the Tretyakov Gallery, which I fell in love with and still wish I could find a book from. At the time Moscow was also more western, while St. Petersburg lagged behind - we had a hard time finding a decent place to eat there. I have a feeling this is much different now.
#7 Sweden and Finland
Sweden was the next country I visited after the Baltic States and Russia and was my first introduction to Western Europe. I was amazed at the cleanliness and friendliness of the people and the beauty of Stockholm in general. The Vasa warship is truly a must see as well. When I came back to the US I spent time learning Swedish and looked into studying abroad there (until a German friend convinced me that Germany is prettier so I should study there). Finland was rather cold but was interesting - it reminded me a lot of a more modern version of the Baltic States.