Atacama Area, Chile

Wandering Why

Chilly Tatio Geysers, Chile

Wandering Why

Colca Canyon Area, Peru

Wandering Why

Quito, Ecuador

Wandering Why

Laguna De Apoyo, Nicaragua

Wandering Why

Valley de la Luna, Chile

Wandering Why

What's Happening

The Evolution of a Wandering Why Trip

Jan 5th, 2014 by WanderingDawn | 1

One frequent question we get asked about our travels is how we decide on a destination. This question is one I am kind of embarrassed to answer, but decided to finally post about it on our blog. The evolution of one of our trips is going on right now, so I will share how it has been going thus far.

WD: Where should we plan to go this year?

WS: Wherever we plan, I want it to be in the United States. You always try to get overseas, and there are plenty of cool places in our backyard.

WD: Agreed. Maybe we could do a bunch of small trips this year.

Then……we watch the fireworks display in London for 2014 with some friends.

WD: Oh my gosh, that looks amazing!!! It would be so cool to see that someday!!

WS: Agreed!

WD: I am going to check for hotels near Big Ben, just to see what is out there.

Then…..google helps me find a bunch of cool hotels near Big Ben. I check dates. I check flights. I inform WS of my research.

WS: It sounds fun in theory, but we have been to London a number of times. Isn’t there another place you want to go to?

WD: For New Year’s fireworks? Sydney?

WS: Too far. I like to be home on New Year’s to plan for the upcoming year.

WD: Okay. Maybe we could travel before New Year’s. Christmas?

WS: Flights will be more expensive then.

WD: We could go before Christmas? Maybe check out some European Christmas markets?

WS: I don’t know about that.

Then……google helps me find some lists of the best Christmas markets in Europe. But how can I see a few of them within a reasonable amount of time? London? No, we just discussed that. Paris? Munich? What about Brussels? We have never been there!

WD: How about Brussels?

WS: BRUSSELS? What??

Then…..I hit him where it counts. I bring up food and beer.

WD: Home of beer, chocolate, and waffles! What could be better?

Then……I provide all of my research. We can visit the Christmas markets in Bruges, Lille, and Ghent in less than an hour from Brussels. I can get a reasonable apartment on AirBnB for our home base. I can get us there between Thanksgiving and Christmas without traveling directly on holidays. Oh, and did I mention we could get to Amsterdam or Paris in two hours or less?

WS: I thought we were going local this year?

And that, my friends, is how a Wandering Why trip gets planned. Stay tuned, we could end up somewhere totally different. It is way too early to tell!

Mike’s Bikes Tours Amsterdam: A Review

Nov 17th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 0

When WS was in Munich after college many many many years ago, he and his brother took a bike tour with Mike’s Bikes. At the time, the company was relatively new to the tour scene. They had a fantastic time, ending their day at a beer garden. What could be better?

While researching our trip to Amsterdam, we knew for sure that we wanted to rent bikes. WS was also pretty set on taking a bike tour at some point. Both of these wishes lead us to one place, Mike’s Bikes.

We walked to their store on Kerkstraat in Amsterdam. The staff was really friendly, and talked to us about all of our options for renting. We wanted to rent for 3 full days, as well as sign up for a tour. If you rented a bike from them, you could sign up for a tour for 50% off. One day was 15 euro with insurance, and extra days were 9 euro with insurance (spring for the insurance!)

The bikes they rent are Townies. The bikes have no signage on them labeling you as a tourist, so the idea of blending in was quite nice, too. The bikes we had were in great condition, and were a comfortable ride. They provided us with 2 heavy duty locks, a map, and we were ready to ride our way around Amsterdam.

We decided to do the countryside tour, which is 22 euro without the discount. The tour arrangements were very casual-simply show up 5 minutes before the tour and you are on it. Come back for the tour anytime during the three days you are renting. I thought this feature was fantastic. We were able to check the weather reports and go on the day that looked like the nicest weather for riding.

We arrived the next day right before the start of the tour. About 10 other people showed up in our group. If the group is large, they have another guide go along, but we were a small enough group for one guide.

Our guide first gave us an overview of the country, then the city, then the route we would take. The ride first lead us along the Amstel River, then out of the city. We headed to a windmill first, stopping to take photos and hear an explanation of how they are used.

We then rode to a farm, where they made cheese and wooden shoes (what a combination). The farmer was very entertaining and gave a demonstration and explanation of those famous wooden Dutch shoes.

Lunch was on our own at the farm. We sat outside on picnic tables, chatting with our guide and our new riding buddies.

On the way back to town, our guide took us thru the forest and finally into Vondelpark. The entire trip was at a very relaxed, leisurely pace. The route was not strenuous, and I do believe even a novice bike rider could enjoy the journey to the countryside.

The price was fair, the guide was fantastic and funny. Overall, I have to say we really enjoyed our time touring with Mike’s Bikes and renting from Mike’s Bikes. I would definitely recommend them if you are ever in Amsterdam. The bike is the ONLY way to really navigate the city like a local. Have fun!

www.mikesbikestoursamsterdam.com

AirBnB, A Review

Sep 16th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 0

Once in a while WW feels strongly enough about a place, or product to talk about it. We get no kick backs or freebies for this. We just like what we experienced, and want to share.

Some of our best travel times were when we stopped moving fast, put down roots, and rented an apartment. We got to know neighborhoods, the local food vendors, and for a brief period of time, got to live the local life, wherever we were. We found apartments thru word of mouth, Craig’s List, and good old fashioned pavement pounding.

When we began planning a trip to Budapest, Prague, and Amsterdam one of my friends told me about the website AirBnB. We did some research regarding the site and its safety, decided to throw caution to the wind, and booked 3 apartments in a fresh new way.
The site is set up like this: Let’s say you have a house to rent, or an apartment, or a room in your home. You can set up an account on AirBnB and rent out your space. You can rent it out for as little or as long as you want. It could be your own place if you are going to be away for a period of time. You can charge a cleaning fee, extra person fee, or even a pet fee.

When you decide you want to be a renter, you can look up a place to rent by city, neighborhood, amenities, and/or price. Each space has photos with a verbal description of the space to be rented. There is a map view, a list of amenities, and a calendar so you can see when the space is available.

The most invaluable feature to me were the reviews. After someone stays at a place, they put up a review. In turn, the owner of the space reviews the renter. This allows each party to research information about the other prior to making a commitment (as long as they have used the site before).

Once you decide on a space to rent, you place a request using a credit card. If the host accepts your request, you will be charged. If the host declines your request, there is no charge.

Please pay attention when booking to confirm if there is a cleaning fee, and how much the AirBnB fee is, so you are not surprised with this information. It is clearly listed at the time of booking.

Each host has a type of cancellation policy, ranging from Flexible to Strict. Keep this in mind if you have any fears your travel plans may change last minute.

Each host we had, in three different countries, provided good communication with us prior to our visit. Each host met us at the designated spot on time, and were able to provide helpful information about the area we were staying in.

In every place we stayed , we found the photos to be accurate, the descriptions to be accurate, and the ratings to be on par with how we would rate a space and/or host.
We were so happy with our experiences that we booked an apartment for our next trip as well. I would like to think that our experiences thus far are the norm. I am sure you can find articles and blogs that speak of much different experiences. I can only speak from our own experiences, and say that we had no problems with AirBnB, and have only positive things to say.

Keep an eye out for Wandering Why to list our space! Kidding. For now, anyway.
What about you? Have you used AirBnB? What were your experiences like?

Find Your Appetite In Morocco

Jun 30th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 0

When I (WD) learned of Expedia/NFFTY’s “Find Your____” campaign for travel bloggers, I excitedly told WS about it. Come on and brainstorm with me, I asked him. What would we hope to find? His answer was easy, no brainstorming necessary: “Find Your Appetite”.

If you are a long term reader, this will come as no surprise to you. WS likes to eat. No, WS loves to eat. He plans our trips on what food he can try wherever we are going. Our entire trip to Istanbul was planned around a foodie blog he found. He takes photos of his meals. Yes, “Find Your Appetite” was perfect for WS. Not so much for me. Sure I like to eat and try new foods, but I am not food obsessed like WS. If we were going to enter this contest there had to be a compromise. And after 40 countries, we have gotten very good at that, and compromise we did.

The contest asked where you would “Find Yours”. That answer was easy for us – Morocco. We picked a place we had never been. Now, the question was, what would you FIND there? And here was our compromise in action: we would Find Our Appetite for History, Adventure, and Romance in Morocco, sampling local cuisine all along the way.

FIND OUR APPETITE FOR HISTORY IN TANGIER

Tangier, on the tip of Africa, has had multiple cultural influences throughout its existence. At different times it has been occupied or ruled by the Greeks, the Romans, the Portuguese, the English, the French, and the Spanish. This makes for some amazing architectural sites in one city. We would wander thru the streets soaking this in, visiting the old medina, Dar el Makhzem, and the Kasbah. For a little more overview, we would visit the Tangier American Legation Museum. And how to end this amazing day of wandering in Tangier? After WS scored some tajine to eat, we would visit Café Hafa. This café has been open since 1921 and has had many famous visitors in its history. Looking out over the Bay of Tangiers, drinking local mint tea, would make our historical day of exploration in Tangier complete.

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FIND OUR APPETITE FOR ADVENTURE IN MARRAKESH

Waking up at dawn in Marrakesh, what says adventure more than a hot air balloon ride over the desert? We would listen to the swish of the balloon, the only noise breaking the silence over the waking city and desert.

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What a great way to get an overview of the land before hitting the ground running–or riding. As in a camel ride through the palm groves, our next adventure of the day. Or would it be a quad ride in the desert? We would laugh as we bounced around, on camels or quads or both, having enjoyed some adventurous activities we had never done together.

After a day of new experiences, it would be time to wander around Jemaa el Fnaa. More adventure would await us there in the form of snake charmers, belly dancers, and colorful stalls of exotic spices and potions. No trip to the market would be complete without WS eating his way from one food stall to another, indulging in kebabs and sfenj. The day would end with him eating his way back to our hotel, ready to rest after all the new adventures we had in Marrakesh.

FIND OUR APPETITE FOR ROMANCE IN CASABLANCA

There is not another city in Morocco that says romance like Casablanca. We would find ours by first strolling hand in hand to the Casablanca Cathedral, La Corniche, and the town square. We would avoid the heat of the day by taking in a romantic movie at the Rialto Cinema. And how would we end our day of romance in Casablanca? A visit to Benis Patisserie to indulge in pastillas or corres de gazelle, recapping our romantic day together.
ramen

This would be a perfect end to an amazing trip to Morocco. I think we would have definitely Found Our Appetite in Morocco, don’t you think?

Thank you Expedia for making us dream about how to Find Our Appetite.

How would you find yours?

5 Travel Pet Peeves

Jun 17th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 2

In my last blog post, I rattled on and on about the romanticism of travel. I didn’t want you readers to walk away with the impression that I am some sort of travel freak, so I decided to follow up with some of my pet peeves about travel.

SECURITY

You know you have to go through it. You know you cannot wear shoes or a jacket or a belt or any metal. You know you cannot carry your wallet, your change, your photos of the kids, or your lucky lighter. The liquid thing is true, gasp. So why is it when you get up to those shiny sliver bins, no one is prepared? The line was long enough, how is it that once you get up to the front, chaos erupts? Whoa, gotta get this coat and scarf off, and my shoes? Shoes, too? Still? Okay, hold on, I will do that after I take my laptop out of the bag. Okay people, listen up, it’s the same rules, same line, same crap. Use your time in line to prep, have a plan of attack so to speak. Take off the jacket and put it in your mammoth carry-on (more on that to come). Put your boarding pass in your pocket and focus! You can do this, you can do this!

BAGGAGE

I realize in the advent of baggage fees, that people try to squeeze everything into a carry-on. I get that. If I can get away with it, I do too. But it is the sheer size of the carry-ons that gets me. Do you see that little metal bin on the floor that says “Your bag must fit within this space to fly”? It does not mean that you can fit the metal bin in your bag, with enough room for your Starbucks’ snacks, it means that your whole bag needs to fit in there.
And once these ridiculously sized bags make it on the plane, please put your bag over you own seat. Oh wait, there is no room? Could it be that you have too much stuff? It does not mean that you can then take up my overhead bin space for your crap. You figure it out. Put it under your seat. Put it under your husband’s seat. And while you are at it, how about you learn a lesson from this and pack lighter next time? Now give me my bin space back.

SEAT ETIQUETTE

I am small, by American standards. I am five foot tall, and fairly petite. This does not mean I am not entitled to my personal space in my seat. Yes my legs are short, but luckily that means I have more room to stretch out. That does NOT give you permission to have some of my space. I once flew with a guy who sat with this legs spread apart, one leg under the seat in front of him, one leg under the seat in front of me! Really? The only person I share my space with is WS, thank you. Then there is the dreaded fight for the arm rest, and I know you all have had that battle. Let the jostling begin!!

ELECTRONICS

Your electronics are no different than mine. If the crew says turn them off, turn them off. Show some respect to the crew and listen to them. They don’t make the rules, so just do it. Facebook does not care you are ready to take off, your adoring audience can wait until you land.

BAGGAGE CLAIM

Okay. So you made it out of the plane without any air rage, thanks to that free bloody mary. Now you must collect your bag. I hate that the mosh pit around the carousel is three people deep. Please send one family representative to collect. Everyone else, step back please and allow some room to pull the bags off. I hate when I have elbowed my way to the front, go to grab my bag, and no one moves as I try to swing the bag off the belt. Now I know that your bag is not right there, because I am busy hoisting mine, right? So could you step back by two feet as I swing in order to keep yourself safe from my momentum? Like I said, I am short, it takes more umph for me to swing that bag. I promise after I get it down on the ground, I will be out of your way before your bag even makes a close appearance. Promise.

What about you? Any travel pet peeves you want to share?

Travel Infatuation

May 19th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 4

Let me start off by saying that I love planning a trip. Love it. I will even plan trips for others to a limited degree (I don’t want to be held too responsible for your trip). Do you need a discounted airfare? I am the patient searcher, finding the flight I want and then waiting,waiting, waiting, then pouncing when I see the price drop. I would be lying if I did not say I get sort of a high from this-feeling like I got a great deal, knowing I can use that saved cash for fun things on the trip itself. I live for that.
I am the trip planner of the WanderingWhy Team. I buy the tickets, I research the area to stay in, I check the weather reports, and I know the currency conversion. Sometimes I am lucky if WS even knows what the currency is. Did he just dare to ask me if we were getting a good conversion rate? Surely he jests.
I also have an intrepid love affair with airports. I know many people hate that part of travel: the security lines, the baggage fees, the jostling and waiting to get on board. Not me. Well, aside from the baggage fees, I live for that stuff. I don’t mind the security line. I have a little contest with myself to see how quickly I can load and unload my belongings into that silver bin meant to hold all my treasures. More often than not I wear flip flops to expedite the process. And my jacket? Girl, you know I took that off long ago and put it in my carry-on bag.
Airports, to me, have always been a place of emotion. Before the advent of strict security and limited gate access, my best friend and I would drive to the airport in Pittsburgh for no good reason except to people watch. We would pick a destination; sit at the gate, and watch. Watch happiness as two separated lovers were reunited. Watch sadness as two siblings hugged over a lost loved one. Watch anxiousness and excitement as a child flew alone for the first time. We were voyeurs without a ticket. Once the flights trickled down for the night, we would leave in silence, absorbing what we saw and creating stories in our head as to what happened next.
And so, I do not mind sitting at the gate, gazing at the families around me, the solo travelers, the backpackers ready to take that big step. WS knows better than to talk to me at times like that, I am too busy constructing stories in my head and absorbing the emotion of the place.
I board with the plane with hope and excitement, all the while still constructing my stories.
Once on board, there is that moment, right before you push back from the gate, that you feel the plane make a slight gentle lurch backwards. That subtle movement always makes me say in my head “here we go”. I sit back, and I enjoy my flight, no matter how long. After taking trains in India, I can fly an infinite number of hours in comfort and happiness. There are bathrooms, there are drinks, there are snacks. I am ready to go wherever this silver bullet takes me. And the moment the plane touches down on foreign soil, I am giddy with excitement (and usually lack of sleep because of said excitement).
And customs? No sir, I do not mind customs. That long line is full of anticipation for me and a chance to contemplate “what’s next”. Where can I find an ATM? How will we take public transport to our destination? (although I have already done my research, ha!) Where will we go first? What will the air smell like here? What lies outside the glass booth of the customs agent? And once I hear that double “thunk thunk” of the passport stamp, I am ready. So ready to go.
And so, as we decide where to wander next, these thoughts make the journey for me just as enjoyable as the destination. Bon Voyage!

4 Simple Truths About WanderingWhy

Apr 21st, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 0

There are a few things about our blog that you may not know, that you may not even care about. But I wanted to share a few things about us and this blog that may make you look at us differently.

1. WanderingWhy makes no money. This is not a blog that creates income for us. We sell no space on this blog, we do not advertise, we do not pimp ourselves out for money. Do you see any Google Ads on this page? Me neither. We started an Amazon list in 2007 (on the right) and have not updated it since. Hence, no cash inflow from that. The goal was never to make money from this blog. It was started as a postcard home from our travels, and grew into what we have today. We have never tried to change what it evolved into, but we remain a no-nonsense blog meant to entertain and inform.

2. We do not recommend places based on someone asking us. We tell you about places or services because we genuinely like them. We do not take freebies in exchange for reviews. If there is a review on here, we paid for the service and felt strongly enough about it to tell you about it.

3. We do not write about places we have not been to. If it is on this blog, we have personally been there. We may pine for places, but we offer no advice about a place we have never seen beyond our computer screen. If you have a question about a place, we have personally seen it, breathed it, lived it, and are happy to help in any way we can.

4. We love travel. We love to go somewhere without a plan, and wander around. We love that maybe this little travel blog helps to inspire people to travel the world, maybe just one city or country at a time. But I bet you knew that already, didn’t you? Next up, Istanbul!

Travel Wankers

Mar 24th, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 6

This is one of my favorite descriptors learned while traveling. We first heard it used in an article we read in Australia. Once we learned what a travel wanker was, we wondered how we had gone so long without a definition for a, well, wanker.

A travel wanker is the traveler who has to constantly one- up you. And I know you have all experienced a travel wanker. A conversation with a travel wanker would go something like this:

YOU: Hi, nice to meet you! Where are you from?

TRAVEL WANKER (TW): Originally I am from Blah-Blah, but I fancy myself a nomad and traveler.

YOU: Oh really? Where was your last stop?

TW: I just left Southeast Asia.

YOU: Really? Us too! We loved it there! The people were amazing.

TW: Did you go to Burma?

YOU: No, we didn’t have time.

TW: Oh my gosh, it’s like you didn’t even GO to Southeast Asia! Burma is amazing, it is so unspoiled. I go off the backtracker trail myself, to all sorts of undiscovered places, before it becomes mainstream and touristed. I go where the locals go.

YOU: We hope to go in the future.

TW: Humph. Well, anyway, I am an avid traveler, where else have you been?

YOU: Um, well, last year we went to Ireland.

TW: Ireland,yes, I have been there. And Scotland, and England, and Iceland. Everywhere up in that corner of the world. You?

YOU: No, we have only been to Ireland.

TW: Oh, that’s too bad, you really missed out. By the time you get up there it won’t be the same, it will be all touristed and ruined. Anyway, last year when I was in Borneo at this Orangutan rescue organization…..blah, blah , blah….which was after I backpacked thru Malaysia…..blah, blah, blah

And so the conversation goes. Anyway you have been, TW has been, and has had a much more authentic and enjoyable time than you did. Everywhere TW has been, and you haven’t yet, is a lost opportunity for you and you will never get to have the experiences TW did. Anything you can do, TW can do better. Anything you haven’t done, TW is not surprised. Not everyone can be the amazing traveler that TW is. The conversation is less of a volley back and forth, and more of a discussion of where TW has been. Tell us, TW, is there any place you haven’t been? We thought we were good travelers until we met you! Boy, were we wrong!

And how about you? Have you met any Travel Wankers in your time? What was your conversation like?

And Bad Mistakes, I’ve Made a Few….

Feb 21st, 2013 by WanderingDawn | 3

A few days ago I read an interesting blog post by another travel blogger about travel regrets. This topic and article got me thinking, did I have any travel regrets?
When I talked to Wandering Sean about this, he said “I don’t regret anything about our travels. “ Pause….”Except not putting down roots when we first got to Central America and learning Spanish better.” Pause….”And not going on a safari yet.” When he stopped to think, he did have a few. And so did I .

Number One: Not pushing harder to be an exchange student in high school

Now, the catch to this one is, how hard can you push back at your mom? There was an exchange program our high school had with a school in Caracas, Venezuela. When the group prior to my potential group flew down, there had been riots in Caracas. The students were sequestered in their hosts’ homes during this unrest. No one was hurt, but it made my mom steadfast in her decision, there would be no wandering for little Wandering Dawn. I can’t blame her, but my 40 year old self wishes I could have provided compelling information that would have swayed her, some scrap of soothing rhetoric that would have gotten me on that plane. But I didn’t, and she didn’t budge, and my senior year passed without stepping foot in Venezuela. I wonder how my views on the world would have been if I got to travel at such a young age.

Number Two: Electing out of Conversational Spanish

This seemingly intelligent move at the time affected my ability to converse while traveling immensely. I was a freshman in college, taking some seriously challenging classes, when I stepped in to Conversational Spanish. From the very beginning I was intimidated beyond belief. I was used to being top of my class in high school Spanish, and this rattled me. How could I keep up with all of my science classes when this class was going to be so intensive? Spanish was supposed to be my “easy” class. I dropped it within a few weeks. Yes, this lightened my workload, but when we first stepped foot in Latin America I had plenty of time to be remorseful about that decision.

Number Three: Avoiding Colombia

When we traveled long term in 2007, we started in Central America with a planned continuance into South America. WS wanted to fly from Panama to Colombia. I was dead set against it. I had seen too much on TV, read too much about how dangerous it was. I fought and I fought, and I won. It was not until after a year of continuous travel that I realized my mistake. We were in Thailand during the Yellow Shirts. We were in Egypt during a bombing. And I realized that what I saw on TV was not what I saw outside my door. I realized that I was making decisions based on news stories that I thought were the be all end all of what a country was. I was too fresh in my travel shoes to go then, and regret not taking that chance.

Number Four: Not going to Europe after college graduation

I got my master’s! Yea! I got a job! Yea! I need to pay off a student loan! Boo!
After graduation from college, a group of friends were planning a five week trip to Europe. I declined to go because of money. Even though my student loan was deferred for 6 months after graduation, I had learned that starting to pay early could significantly affect the principle. This is true. And it did. But it also secured the fact that I would never be able to take a backpacking trip long term (okay maybe not, but it sure felt like it). I wish someone would have pushed me harder to go. I wish I would have seen it as more of a priority than I did. But I didn’t. And when I heard stories about that fabulous trip, I regretted the decision.
Although…that decision did lead me to WS! Now that is a blog post all on its own!

How about you? Do you have any travel regrets ?

So Nice I’d Visit Twice (Or Thrice!)

Dec 9th, 2012 by WanderingDawn | 2

There are very few places that we have been to that I would return to.  Why?  The answer is not much more than this: it is a big world and there are a lot of great places out there I have not yet seen.  Why would I spend time going to the same place again and again?  My travel list is much too long.

 

However, there are always a few places along the way that win your heart, and going back there would not be such an awful thing.  And then there are those places that I would actively seek an opportunity to revisit.  For this wanderer, these are the top three places I would revisit in a heartbeat and why.

 

JAPAN

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Absolutely my number one. To prove that point, we have been there twice, once in 2007, and again in 2008.  The first time around, I fought WS on going.  Too expensive, I said.  We can’t swing it on our budget, I said.  I finally relented, and in 2007 it became part of our around the world adventure.   From the moment we arrived, I was in love.  Japan appealed to my sense of order.  I loved the cleanliness.  I loved the quietness on the subways and trains.  I loved the punctuality of the public transportation. The food was amazing, from local ramen shops to the sushi, to the snacks at 7-11.  I loved it all.  I was fascinated by their culture and their religion, and the fact that everything in Japan has its place.

This love and fascination left me wanting more.   When we had a glitch in one of our flights to India in 2008, we had to be rerouted through Japan.  I asked the airline if we could have a layover in Tokyo.  They said sure!  I asked for how long?  They said as long as you want!  Am I dreaming?  Now I was begging WS to go to Japan like he begged me!  We agreed on a week, and back to Tokyo we went.  I was no less excited than the first time.  We were lucky enough to spend New Year’s there and experience the celebration at a local temple, and to this day follow the Japanese tradition of cleaning the house, paying bills, and preparing for the new year by clearing out the old.

Last week my brother-in-law got married, and an old friend WS and his brother grew up with was in the wedding.  He starting telling us about his wife’s family, who live in Tokyo.  He told us they may be going back in April 2013 and if we wanted to go with them we were more than welcome.  I hope he knew what he was in for, because I have already started looking at tickets!  Round Three?  Could be…..

 

THAILAND

Buddha by Moonlight

If you ask me why I loved Bangkok, you would never believe me after my post above about Japan.  To me, Bangkok was a mix of East meets West, Chaos meets Culture. Bangkok was this crazy, polluted, crowded city, yet I absolutely loved it.  I loved the food, ah, the street food in Thailand is some of the best we have eaten anywhere.  Soups and pad thai and mango with sticky rice and fresh fruit juice.  One glorious choice after another.  The public transport was a fantastic mix of light rail, subway, taxis and tuk tuks.  At times there were so many contrasts to me, and how it all worked in some type of crazy harmony intrigued me.

We spent 6 weeks in Thailand in 2008, renting an apartment for most of that time, with Bangkok as our hub.  But there were parts we did not get to visit , including the central portion of the country and the southwest coast.  I really want to explore more if it, and would absolutely add a few days in Bangkok again.  Well, maybe more than a few days…..

 

BUENOS AIRES/PARIS

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For last place, there was a tie in my little travel brain, so I decided to go more specific than just a country and go for a city.  I think I would like to go back to each of these cities equally as Buenos Aires has been called the Paris of South America. We visited Buenos Aires in 2008 and rented an apartment in Recoleta.  The dollar at the time was strong there, and we got very spoiled doing a lot of nice things for not a lot of money.  We were on a tight budget, and being there was such a treat.  I could wander around the city aimlessly for days looking at the amazing architecture and enjoying their fantastic food.
Light Show

Ditto for Paris, which we visited in 2009.  The museums and culture in both cities allow for exploration for all tastes.  No matter your taste in music or art, you will find something to your liking in both places.  Both cities had so much to do, and  if you were bored it really was your own fault.  I would return to both cities to explore a little further out from the city itself, something we did not do the first time around, and to re-experience what the cities have to offer once again.

 

What about you?  Where would you go to again? Why?