Most people know by now that, every year, my family takes a trip over the Christmas holiday. We’ve done everything from New York to Paris to Caribbean cruises. As a group. Together. For more than five days. And yep, the six of us (Mom, Dad, brother, sister, brother-in-law, and I) always come back alive and still liking each other. That in itself is probably a Christmas miracle. But this past December, we took what I consider a pretty ambitious trip — 10 days in China (Beijing and Shanghai).

And although I have to admit I had my doubts about how successfully we’d manage together in such completely foreign places for all of us, I’m here to tell you that it was one of our best trips. Absolutely fascinating.

Of course, by now you’re probably wondering why I’m telling you this (other than because I generally enjoy writing about myself). But I actually have a point this time: I want to make sure everyone is aware that we start service to Shanghai on April 2. I know my mom is aware. She’s already making plans to be on the first plane.

As you’ve read and heard, although it’s large and busy and somewhat overwhelming, China is an incredible place. So much history, so much to see and do. I don’t think I have ever had a less “relaxing” vacation. There were endless palaces, gardens, restaurants, markets, and shops to visit. Not to mention other fabulous towns and the Great Wall, for goodness’ sake! (Crazily enough, as big as China is, it also demonstrated the “small world” concept. I met someone on the Great Wall who attended the same high school I did!)

The people are great, too. Everyone we met was wonderful, and I was impressed (as I often am when I travel outside the U.S.) at how many people spoke English or wanted to talk so they could practice their English. (If only I could speak more than one language!)

The country (and Beijing and Shanghai in particular) is rapidly growing. And with the 2008 Olympics headed to Beijing, the growth will only continue.

So let me recommend that you book your trip now. China is an amazing place that everyone should experience, and our new service (on the cool Boeing 777s, no less) from Chicago direct to Shanghai makes it simple for you to get there.

If you’re more of an armchair traveler, you can count on reading more about China in upcoming issues.

We don’t have any stories on China in this issue, but we do cover another super Asian destination: Tokyo’s Tsukiji Fish Market. Robert Draper does a lovely job of making you feel like you’re right there with the morning’s catch. Tsukiji is yet another place you should see with your own eyes.

And Chris Harrison of the ever-popular The Bachelor (admit it, you’ve been watching) gives us an inside look at the time he and his family spent in Paris while filming the show’s current season. It’s an excellent firsthand look at not only visiting Europe, but also living there.

Enjoy your travels, and keep me posted on where you’ve been, what you’ve seen, and what we should know about.

Picture of Sheri Burns