My interest and desire to go to Brazil has waned slightly over time. I used to be really interested to take a river-boat down the Amazon, and probably still am, but the more I read about the dangers and ills of Brazil’s primary two ports (Rio and Sao Paulo), the less I want to go there. I still would love a trip to Brazil, to experience that fun culture, to eat their nice food, to take that river-boat trip down the Amazon and come across some exotic animals. These are all things I would still do, but when you combine the present dangers and economic crises, and the weather that I am not too much a fan of, there are a few more that have jumped where Brazil would have been had a done this a few years back.
9.) Safari Trip (Kenya/Tanzania/Botswana, etc.)
There is no specific place that I have pinpointed so I just threw three countries that I have heard good things about up there. If price were not an issue, this is probably #1, but now that I understand how much it costs to go on a good safari trip (thinking like 5-7 days), I have to be somewhat reasonable. The allure of roaming around in a jeep and tent among Elephants, Rhinos, Hippos, Giraffes and your odd Predator is obviously alluring – probably nothing would be better on this list, but knowing it cost a months salary (guessing) is less so. I do want to make a point that I know you can go for safaris that are cheaper due to being shorter or in places like South Africa / Zimbabwe – but those places are cheaper for a reason. If I’m doing a safari, I’m doing the real thing. And if I’m doing the real thing, it’ll probably have to wait a while.
8.) The Baltics
The Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are next up, and I’m not sure why I want to go there totally, but everything I’ve read about the area seems great. The countries are still coming out of breaking off with the Soviet Union 25 years ago, and are making great strides to modernize themselves. I should probably make the trip rather soon because in the next 10 years or so I’m guessing the Baltic nations may start getting a bit more expensive as they continue to open up their borders to free trade and business. From what I know, they have fascinating histories both good and bad, and great food and more than that beer. It is also a very interesting area of Europe that shares some similarities with the Nordics without being as cold (or expensive).
7.) The Balkans
The Balkans are basically the South Europe version of the Baltics, so slightly warmer, slightly more Mediterranean, and slightly more compelling a trip. These are countries like Croatia, Serbia, Slovenia, Macedonia and on and on. The food scene is great. The culture is even better. Like the Baltics, these areas are also ex-Soviet (or in many cases, ex-Yugoslavian) and for now a bit cheap, especially compared to the rest of Europe. The Balkans, and this matters now a days, seems a bit far afield of the crises that are infiltrating Western Europe which helps as well. The Balkans are also a way to very quickly add 4-6 countries to my list, which is a nice added bonus as well as I work my way slowly up to the high double digits.
Quick note: I am actually going to Peru in October/November, but for now this is still a dream. I have never been to South America. I have been to all other inhabited continents other than the one that is, ironically, the closest to North America. Peru has been a place that I would love to visit because of what I have heard of the place. The life among the high plateaus in Lima and Cusco, the brilliance that is Macchu Picchu and the rest of the Sacred Valley of the Incas, all of Peru seems great. The food is also a plus, as whatever experience I’ve had with Peruvian food has been excellent. I’m very much looking forward to popping my South American cherry with Peru later in 2016.
Along with Peru, Argentina is at the top of my list for South America. To me, Argentina is a supersized Peru, with more Andes-related stuff to do, more food to eat (Steaks!), more wine to drink (assuming I get around to liking wine by the time I visit Argentina), and more recent history to delve myself into. My parents went to Argentina in 2005 (the first time they took a trip without my Sister and me), and when NYU-Stern divided all Juniors up into three groups during our International Business class, I was put in the Singapore group instead of Buenos Aires (Barcelona was the other option). So I’ve had two close brushes with going there, but it still awaits. The culture of Argentina is really drawing, as is the chance to roam the plains and visit Iguazu Falls and the rest.
And of course, China has to be on this list. The problem with countries like China are that their massive size would necessitate 2-3 trips to see it all, but even a chance to see Beijing, Shanghai, the Yellow River, maybe some of the secondary cities is quite the itenirary. Of course we add to that the Great Wall, the Terracotta soldiers, the highlands and everything else. China of course has the other aspects like the cuisine. I have so often heard how real Chinese food from China is so different than what we get in the US, and I'm sure that is true and ready to experience what the real Chinese food is like. It is a fascinating, growing culture that gets more impressive each year, and I really can't wait to experience it sometime.
I had a near miss in going to Egypt, as when I first planned my around the world trip in 2013, my initial first destination was Egypt. About three weeks before leaving, I switched it to South Africa after being a little concerned of the danger at the time. The danger has increased since – though Egypt has been pretty calm in recent years. I would still love to go there as few places, apart from the one to come next, can match Egypt in terms of history. I want few things more than to cruise down the Nile, to go to the ruins in Alexandria, to visit the Pyramids in Giza and the Sphinx and the Valley of the Kings and everything else. Add to that a good cuisine and a great culture beyond its history and few places see so alluring as Egpyt to travel to. Technically I did fly through Egypt, and ideally when I get around to going there I wouldn’t take Egyptair again, but I still want to leave the confines of Cairo airport and see what treasures of the Ancient Egyptians still exist.2.) Israel
Being a Catholic, probably no place has more historical draw to it than Israel, what with it being the birthplace of the religion and housing the site of basically every major event in the history of the religion as well. Beyond the historical significance and sites, there is a lot to see with the other two religions who see this place as a living memorial and even things like the Dead Sea. I honestly have no idea what the food scene is like in Israel, nor do I know a lot about the culture outside of the history and sightseeing, but there is no place I would rather go to sightsee than Israel.
I almost went to Russia on an High School Orchestra trip in 2007, and while it would have been memorable, I am kind of glad I can go for the first time as an adult. Russia is a fascinating place for me. The people, the history, the beauty of the country is forever understood, hidden behind the rough exterior presence that clouds the country. My parents have been to Russia and raved about it, from the incredible museums and artifacts and culture. Of course, the drinking aspect seems nice as well. Russia also represents a chance to go to a World Cup in 2018 - which given I want go within 2,000 miles of Qatar in 2022 and by 2026 who knows if I'll have kids or, you know, real responsibilities. Anyway, Russia is a place that draws me way more than I could have imagined given all we Americans hear about this country.