A year ago I wrote this post about places I want to visit. I’m asked all the time what my favorite destinations are and where I most want to go next. While I don’t really believe in travel bucket lists, I do of course have a short list of places I want to go. I decided to look back at that post and I was amazed at how much I’ve been able to accomplish this year. So here’s a review of the items on my wish list as well as some new additions.
1. Antarctica – This is probably at the top of everyone’s list, and not without good reason. There’s something mysterious and captivating about the seventh continent and it is the Holy Grail amongst adventure travelers, which I consider myself to be. While I haven’t been there yet, I will be visiting the land of ice and penguins in February. This isn’t aspirational either, my flight has been booked and it’s a real thing! I’m very excited about this opportunity and I can’t wait to share photos and stories with you all from what will certainly be a once in a lifetime adventure.
2. Nauru – I’ve wanted to go to this remote speck of land in the middle of the Pacific for a long time, ever since my college professor first mentioned it. Dr. Ward was a strange but genial man. British by birth and American by choice, he had a certain quirk in all of his lectures. He taught international relations and whenever he had an example to give he always used Nauru. At first I didn’t realize that it actually existed; it sounds like a word Lewis Carroll or Roald Dahl had made up. But no, it is very real and I desperately want to go there. It’s not just Nauru though, I’ve wanted to visit the South Pacific ever since I was a kid and it is frustratingly a destination I have not yet visited. Who knows though, maybe 2013 is the year?
3. African Safari – Not unlike Antarctica, Africa safari is on almost every one’s travel bucket list and it has been for generations. Africa has long intrigued millions, its mystery and inaccessibility is just mesmerizing. It’s more than the allure of the Heart of Darkness though, it’s seeing some of the most beautiful and rare animals in the world in the wild and not in a zoo. To see giraffes slowly grazing or to stand two feet away from a black rhino is to experience the world in a dramatic way. I didn’t think I would get the chance, but earlier this year I traveled to Africa and amongst the many amazing things I did and saw, I went on several game drives in Botswana, Namibia and Zimbabwe. It was just as wonderful as I thought it would be and has instilled in me a strong desire to get back there and see even more. The experience also taught me that Africa isn’t as difficult as I thought to visit; to see those warthogs and baboons for yourself. So if this is on your wish list, start planning your trip now because it’s an experience everyone should have at least once in their life.
4. Japan – 2012 was a good travel year for me, especially in terms of seeing the places on my wish list including Japan. Our time in Japan was brief, just a few days, but it was enough for me to realize that I need to spend a lot more time in this fascinating country. Tokyo in particular was everything I thought it would be and more. The immense city can be confusing and overwhelming at times, but it still retains the look and feel of traditional Japan. I was surprised that I wasn’t completely overtaken by the frenzy of the city, in fact I even got used to its rhyme and rhythm. I was also lucky enough to get out of the city for a day and see some of the beautiful Japanese countryside. It’s amazing that a country with as many people as Japan has can have so much natural beauty and wide open areas. I do need to return though and investigate as much of this mysterious country as I possibly can.
5. Scandinavia – While I got close to visiting in 2012, I didn’t actually get to see this beautiful region for myself. We went to Iceland in February, which, I think, is technically Scandinavia, but not really. I am positive that the natural beauty, the well ordered cities and the warm people will make me fall in love instantly, if I can ever get there. In preparation I’ve read The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo and memorized the IKEA catalog. Sorry, pickled herring just isn’t going to happen.
1. India – I’ve had a love/hate relationship with India for a long time and I haven’t even been there. My partner went there as part of a round-the-world trip after college and had a miserable, horrible, awful experience. That has sadly colored my thoughts about the sub-continent and until very recently I haven’t had much of a desire to go. So what’s changed? Well, I think I need to see it for myself. I realize that people either love or hate it, that there is no grey area with India and I’m fine with that, but I need to see it first hand. I want to see the chaotic streets, the famous temples and try my hand at yoga. I want to see if I can discover why people are so mesmerized by this place and see whether or not I’ll have my own moment of self-realization. Plus I want some butter chicken, so there’s that too.
2. China – China has interested me for a long time, but I’ve been intimidated by its massive size. China is like Texas, there’s just more of everything there and previously I thought I would have to devote months to see it properly. I think I’ve come to the realization that to see China will take many trips and that I don’t have to be gone for months at a time. But I want to get started and begin exploring this mysterious place for myself. Unlike other destinations, I don’t think it will necessarily be a transformative journey, but rather one of education. Plus I want to hug a panda, very very badly.
3. South America, yes the whole continent – I’ve toyed with South America before, and I’ll toy with it again on the way to Antarctica, but I’ve never really SEEN it. In part I’ve been intimidated by how frustrating it can be to explore the continent, from late buses to scam artists it’s not the easiest place to visit. But I don’t think the entire continent is like that and while I want to see everything, I’d really like to start off by visiting Brazil and Argentina. Everything I’ve seen and heard about these two countries has been wonderful and damn it, I want to experience them for myself. I think of the three new additions that this is the most likely to happen in 2013.
These are some of my travel wish list destinations, what are yours?