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Top 5! Top 5 places to revisit

Monday, March 5, 2012

Hello blog world friends!  So I returned home, got a job to refill the travel fund, and promptly lost all of my writing time to the corporate world.  I’m starting to get my head above water and will hopefully be able to regularly blog again soon, but until then, a quick top 5 post!

Top 5 places I’d love to return to (outside the US)

The #1 question we get since returning to the US is, “What was your favorite place?”  Well, we have 3 favorites from this trip. And then I’m gonna round this out (since it’s a top 5, after all) with 2 places from previous trips I’d love to revisit:

1. Thailand.  A 1st world country with 3rd world prices.  Beach hut? $20/night (and that was in high season).  60-min massage – $8.  The best, most delicious, freshly cooked Thai food you’ve ever had – $1.  Friendly people, safe, diverse, relaxing… there’s a reason “the land of smiles” is so popular. I want to go back there every year for a month. minimum.

2. South Africa.  You name it, South Africa delivers.  First-class cities? check. Gorgeous, empty beaches? Check.  Lions, elephants, zebras, giraffes, all within a stone’s throw of your rental car?  check.  From the wineries outside Cape Town to the village hostel of Bulungula to the wilds of Kruger, 3 weeks in South Africa was not enough.

3.  Machu Picchu and Cusco, Peru.  I’ll never forget the feeling we shared when the clouds cleared and we had our first full view of Machu Picchu and the surrounding mountains, the river snaking around the valley, the green lush jungle, the ancient stones.  The food in Cusco was among the best we had in the world.  The cost of living is ridiculously affordable.  The altitude makes your metabolism burn calories faster, so you can enjoy all that incredible food just that much more.  Colorful, ancient, spiritual, warm: we meant to explore more of Peru, but set our plans aside to spend 3 weeks in Cusco.

4.  Lake Como, Italy.  Lake Como oozes romance, lushness, and a fairy-tale vibe that I’ve felt in few other places.  Flowers drip down over stone walls, the smell of fresh gelato wafts down lovers’ lane, the boatsmen shout out in knee-weakening Italian the ports of call: “Menaggio… Tremezzo… Lenno… Bellagio…”  I could listen to those sailors all day long.  You take a hike, up a pristine mountain trail, where butterflies flit ahead, drinkable springs flow alongside, to a view of snow-covered peaks beyond.  Are we in the Sound of Music?  No, it’s much better: it’s Italy, it’s now, and there’s the best pizza of your life waiting at the trail’s end.

5.  Amsterdam.  Maybe it’s the cozy cafes, the perfect hot chocolate, the tomato soup, the obsession with cheese. Maybe it’s that I’m half Dutch, and I love the bluntness, frugality, and directness of the Dutch people. Maybe it’s how cute everyone looks on their bikes, the adorable canals, the narrow houses from the 1600s, or the lilting Dutch tones.  Maybe it’s our awesome friends there, who invite us to cram into bustling bars overflowing with great beer and conversation, even on the coldest of nights.  Amsterdam is one of the few international destinations I could see myself living in for a length of time.  How can you not love a country that has a word that describes the certain kind of warm, cozy feeling you get when meeting old friends in an even older bar over a mug of beer? It’s just gezellig.

what are your favorite destinations? there are so many places yet to go!

My current desktop background: the view of Machu Picchu, the surrounding mountains, the river below. Peace.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Judy Caplan permalink
    Monday, March 5, 2012 12:38 pm

    There’s a lightness to this piece that made me smile. Your love of travel shines through every paragraph. Glad you’re blogging again.

    • Kristen permalink*
      Wednesday, March 7, 2012 2:13 pm

      Thank you so much, Judy! Glad you enjoyed it!

  2. Monday, March 5, 2012 7:49 pm

    Love this line ” No, it’s much better: it’s Italy, it’s now, and there’s the best pizza of your life waiting at the trail’s end.” You turn a phrase in just the right way that makes me wanna buy a plane ticket now. Damn you! 🙂

  3. Susan Beach permalink
    Friday, March 9, 2012 6:52 pm

    Kristen, first of all, I am so happy to see this post. I have never considered the far east as a destination of choice, but your love, and descriptions of Thailand, make me reconsider. For me, Paris is always the place of my dreams. In the 4 years-in-a-row that I got to visit their in the spring, the city became familiar and intimate to me. Thinking back, I recall some of my favorite memories involve smoking and drinking with various beloveds in the cafes lining those amazing streets. Now that I no longer smoke, I still would love to spend some cafe time in the city of lights. We have recently sold out condo in Florida – I am angling with Rich to set aside a bit for another EU vacation. But, maybe we should consider Thailand??See you in Savannah! Susan

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