I didn’t post anything on 9/11. While on the one hand it seemed a little weird to write about frankly frivolous matters on such a serious day, I am not really the sentimental type. Rather, I just didn’t want to contribute to the maudlin hand-wringing and media frenzy of the day.
But this is typically the time of year when I am most inspired and incented to travel. The crowds of summer have passed, temperatures drop to the more temperate range that I like, fares begin to drop and tourist-weary towns become less jaded. Lately we don’t get to travel as much as we’d like, but I always have a running wishlist of destinations. My friend and inveterate traveler David at Upright & Stowed recently posted his top five list, and so I’ll do the same here. Coincidentally, we overlap a bit.
Europe is basically off the menu for me lately, despite my burning love of Italy. It’s just too expensive, and that gives me all the excuse I need to refocus on other parts of the world.
I’ve got an interest in anyplace that has been the seat of a major civilization; Istanbul has been the seat of more than one. I’m fascinated by the layers of culture and history here, the coexistence of Christian and Muslim, European and Asian, old and new. Plus, the food!
2. Buenos Aires and Montevideo
I’ve had a dream trip in my head for years: To go to Buenos Aires and Montevideo to see the substantial Italian emigrant population and to understand the similarities and differences to Italian-American communities. South America inherited an enormous emigrant population around the same time that the US did — in fact, my great-grandfather went to Brazil before he came to America — and it intrigues me to see how they influenced and were influenced by the places they went. Plus, it’s cheap.
I’ve always wanted to go, but Cam and Anita‘s trip last year sounded heavenly. We’ve never been to Asia, and this seems like a great place to start. Beautiful scenery, good food, friendly people. Sign me up!
Music and food are the two major anchor points that draw me to a culture. I’m big into Brazilian music. I’m amazed by the evolution of indigenous music to inform one of the highest forms of jazz and on to modern electronica. I’d like to see how else the Brazilians manage to adapt their distinctive cultural identity to an ever-changing modern world.
I’m not sure I’m ready for it yet, but India has always dazzled me. The vibrance, the color, the diversity, the architecture and the sheer differentness are like a siren song. Everyone I’ve known who’s been has loved it, willingly or otherwise. It strikes me as the sort of place that will haunt your soul forever.
This is by no means a comprehensive list; I want to go everywhere. There’s still much of Europe yet unseen, maybe when we hit the lottery. The entire continent of Africa remains mysterious and intriguing. There are still six U.S. states I’ve not been to, though I’m in no rush to see them. I just want to say I’ve been to all 50. And every time I pick up a travel magazine I have fleeting infatuations with destinations near and far. Yet these five places consistently bubble up to the top of my travel wishlist.