January 2012 marks a milestone birthday for me. I won't say which one because, frankly, I'm not looking forward to it. Previous milestone birthdays have sailed by, barely registering as a blip in my consciousness but this one... *sigh*... this one has pummeled me with feelings of dread and constant reminders of my fleeting youth.

I've got no real reason why this one should be so bad but it's bumming me out. However, one sure way to make myself feel better is to do something really indulgent and, for me, that means taking a trip somewhere where I don't speak the language.

My all-time favorite place is Baden-Baden in southern Germany. I blogged about it when Hosni Mubarak was rumored to be going there in exile. The thing is, I've been there, like, five times now so, as much as I love it, I feel like I need to go somewhere else - somewhere I've never been. A friend invited me to go to Bali with her over Thanksgiving but that's too soon, too far, and too expensive a trip.

So, I'm thinking about the following places:

Greece - it's got the appeal of being warm, coastal, and friendly. I love Greek food and there are lots of ancient things to explore. Historically, it's been pretty expensive to go there but, maybe with the collapse of their economy, I can get a deal.
Thailand - There are only a couple of Asian countries that I'm interested in visiting and Thailand is at the top of the list. I used to train in Muay Thai (Thai kickboxing) and have been fascinated by the culture there for years. The country offers a lot of variation too, from the forests and hills of the north (full of gorgeous temples), to the hustle and bustle of Bangkok, to the pristine beaches of the peninsula. The best part is, the airfare is the biggest expense. Once you're there, you can have an amazing time for just a few dollars a day.

Iceland - Okay...maybe January in Iceland doesn't sound too appealing but I've heard that the country is really beautiful, even in the dead of winter. And, right around the time I'd be going is when the residents have this big, midwinter party called Thorrablot. The food acquired taste but the drink is good and the party is a blast with lots of singing and story-telling and friendship. Oh... and they have awesome hot springs.

Borrowed from the blog: Daniels Adventures In Adulthood
Nepal - I'd really like to go to Tibet but, with the Chinese occupation and the current political climate there, it's not really an option. However, there's a comparable Himalayan destination in Nepal. The mountains are amazing and there are temples to explore. I have a friend from Nepal and, after meeting her family and learning about her culture, I know it's a place I'd like to visit before I die. Travel to the Himalayan is long and a bit brutal - it's not unusual to find yourself sleeping on the floor in an Indian airport waiting for your next flight - but, I think its worth it.

So... what do you think? Do any of our readers have experience in traveling to any of these destinations? Or, do you have other places you'd like to recommend? I have a few months before I have to buy tickets so let me know!

- Alex, the world-traveler


  1. I know what you mean about the excitement of going somewhere that you don't speak the local language - we went to Tokyo a few years ago, and it was the best trip ever. I would heartily recommend it - it's very tourist-friendly in Tokyo, yet it's easy to get out into the areas where the locals don't expect to interact with tourists too much, but even there, they were tolerant of our mangled attempts to ask for directions, buy things, etc.


  2. Wow, that list contains so many of the places I want to visit! Haven't been to any so I have no advice, but you've picked some incredible places so whichever you chose should be amazing :)

  3. @Nomadic - Japan is the other Asian country I'm interested in seeing - although considering what they've been through recently, I'm doubtful that it's currently a great tourist destination. Hopefully, some day.

    @pinkundine - I'm sure whatever I end up doing will be fun. I wish I had the time to visit all the places I already love (Amsterdam, Baden-Baden, Taormina, Paris) AND go somewhere new. I guess I was just meant to be independently wealthy. LOL

  4. Hmm, I pick Greece. Greece for sure!! Wherever you decide to go, have a blast!! Happy Birthday!

  5. @Angela - you know, that was my first choice until I found out that the weather in Greece at the end of January isn't balmy beach weather. :(