November is One of Our Favorite Travel Months

We have taken the opportunity to travel many times during the month of November. We choose November for several reasons, including the fact that the weather is usually mild, the scenery in the northern hemisphere can be quite stunning, and it is often considered to be a “bumper” month when there are less travelers. It is also a time when we usually take a couple of weeks to travel, which allows us to see a little more of the places that we’re visiting. Here are some of our favorite memories of traveling during the month of November.

Downtown Stratford-upon-Avon
Eiffel Tower in Autumn

Paris, London, and Stratford-upon-Avon – On our first trip to Europe, we flew into Paris where we spent several days, then took the Chunnel to London. After a few days in London, we took a train to Stratford-upon-Avon and Warwick before heading to Manchester for a couple of days. Finally, it was back to London to catch our flight home. We had an absolutely wonderful time, but we have learned a lot more about how to travel since that trip.

Seville Cathedral
Fortress Walls at Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Southern Spain – Spending two weeks in Southern Spain was another amazing experience where we fully immersed ourselves into the country and the culture. We spent time in Granada, Seville, and Gibraltar, but perhaps our tour of Morocco was a highlight of the trip. We found time to relax as well as explore, making it a perfect vacation as well as travel experience.

Sunset in Cabo San Lucas
The Arch at Cabo San Lucas in Mexico

Cabo San Lucas in Mexico – We have been to Cabo more than once during November as the weather starts getting cold in Colorado at that time of year. Spending time at the beach is always a welcome diversion and we love walking along the beach, enjoying restaurants at the marina, and just sitting by the pool.

Schönbrunn Palace in Vienna
Cologne, Germany

Germany and Austria – During our time in Frankfurt, we had just gotten fully acclimated and were taking trips every weekend. During the month of November, we visited Cologne, Hochheim, Würzburg, and also took a train to Vienna, Austria. Obviously, it is so much easier to travel when based directly in Europe as opposed to having to take a flight from the United States.

Colorful Dancers in Panama City
Views of Panama City

Panama City, Panama – We saw so many animals during our trip to Panama that was certainly a unique experience. Considering that it can be rainy in Panama at that time of year, we were fortunate enough to have good weather as we took tours that took us from coast to coast. We would definitely consider returning to see more of this fascinating country.

Walking the Side Streets of Old Town Alexandria
Cobblestone Streets

Old Town Alexandria in Virginia – You don’t have to leave the country to see interesting places and spending time in Old Town Alexandria was certainly a nice place to get away. Not only is it historic and beautiful, especially in autumn, but it also reminded us of growing up on the east coast of the United States.

Two Reclining Buddhas in Laos (They are Farther Apart then It Looks)
Halong Bay in Vietnam

Vietnam and Laos – Our most recent excursion in the month of November was to spend two weeks in Hanoi where we were able to see so many wonderful places. From a few days in Vientiane, Laos or taking a cruise in Halong Bay, the trip was certainly one of the best that we have enjoyed. It was somewhat of a spontaneous decision to visit Vietnam and the people that we met there hold a special place in our hearts.

Going to Extremes

There are so many beautiful places throughout the world, but it isn’t always easy to reach them. Some of these locations are easily accessible, but others require an effort to reach. Whether it is hiking up a mountain, taking a canoe into the jungle, or just visiting a remote location, the scenery that you see can be quite rewarding. We have been fortunate to see a variety of different scenery throughout the years and look forward to seeing more in the future.

Andes Mountains in South America

Standing in the desert in Egypt

Moon Valley in La Paz, Bolivia

There are so many different types of scenery in various parts of the world due to the various climates and geological forces that exist. From rainforests, arctic tundra, tropical islands, vast deserts, and dramatic canyons, each has its own charm as well as its own challenge to seeing their natural beauty. Sometimes you can find these amazing scenes near where you live today and other require traveling to a far off country. Regardless of where we travel, we always look for opportunities to find one of those places that can’t be found anywhere else.

Amazon Rainforest

Lava Fields in Iceland in Winter

Hikers Heading Up an Exposed Rock Face in Utah

Even though we’ve gone to some extreme locations, we are not ones who take incredible risks to see these beautiful places. You don’t need to climb up the side of a mountain with ropes, cross a desert on a camel, or bobsled through the arctic to see the scenery that the world has to offer. We certainly don’t go to those types of extremes. Even the time of year can change the way that a place looks, so seeing it in different seasons can also effect your perception of it as well. How far are you willing to go to find the places that aren’t like anything that you’ve ever seen before?

Great Sand Dunes in Colorado

View of the Quilotoa Caldera and Lagoon in Ecuador

Beautiful Scenery from a Mountain Peak in Ninh Binh Province, Vietnam


Hoa Lu – The Ancient Capital of Vietnam

Located about an hour south of Hanoi is Hoa Lu in the Ninh Binh Province. Hoa Lu was the capital of Vietnam in the 10th and 11th centuries. There are two temples on the site, one for the first emperor of Vietnam, Ninh Bo Linh, and the other temple is dedicated to the second emperor, Lê Hoàn. The two temples are very similar with the temple dedicated to Ninh Bo Linh being slightly more elaborate.

Building on the Temple Grounds

River Running Through Hoa Lu

Inside the Temple Dedicated to Dinh Bo Linh

Statue on the Grounds

Dragon Carving on a Stone Tablet

Temple of Đinh Tiên Hoàn is the temple dedicated to Ninh Bo Linh and is located on the grounds of former palace. Ninh Bo Linh defeated all of the other competing warlords to create the first imperial dynasty of Vietnam. The temple was built to face the river with the mountains behind it in order to create positive energy. As you enter the grounds of Hoa Lu, the Temple of Đinh Tiên Hoàn is to your left and the Temple of Lê Đại Hành is to your right.

Entering the

Ornate Rooftop

Excavation in the

Inside the Temple

Carriage for the Emperor

The Temple of Lê Đại Hành is dedicated to Lê Hoàn who was the head of Ninh Bo Linh’s army. When Ninh Bo Linh died, his son, Dinh Toan, was only six years old, so Lê Hoàn was named as his regent. There was a rebellion to try and overthrow Lê Hoàn’s authority, but he successfully defeated those who attacked him and he officially took control of the country and created the second imperial dynasty of Vietnam. Lê Hoàn also married Ninh Bo Linh’s widow and had two sons of his own.

Horse Statue

Temple Courtyard

Colorful Details

Ancient Wall

Temple Gate

The history of Hoa Lu as the ancient capital of Vietnam is certainly quite interesting. Later, in the early 11th century, the capital of Vietnam was moved from Hoa Lu to what is now the city of Hanoi. Hoa Lu was the first stop on our tour of the Ninh Binh Province and we spent about two hours walking the grounds and visiting the temples.

Details in the Museum

Offerings in the Temple

Display in the Museum

Temple Surrounded by Mountains

Temple Entrance

Entrance to Hoa Lu