Saturday, May 10, 2008

Dream Trips, Vol. 2: 12 Months, 12 Cities

What avid traveler wouldn't want to circumnavigate the globe? Luckily, there's an airfare deal designed specifically for the journey: the round-the-world (RTW) ticket. Most of the major airline alliances--SkyTeam, Star Alliance, Oneworld--offer one. Basically, you choose a time frame and a number of stops, and you can go anywhere in either an eastward or westward direction, without backtracking, until you make it back to your point of origin.

Combine this product with the belief that it would take a month to truly become immersed in one of the world's biggest cities, and you get this dream trip. A month-long stay in each destination would allow me to rent an apartment, get to know the ins and outs of the local culture and find under-the-radar attractions, and probably take some short side trips as well. Now, RTW tickets, though good value, do cost a pretty penny (which is why this isn't a "reality trip"), but if I were ever able to make this happen, here's a rundown on the cities that would be under consideration.

Region 1: Western Hemisphere
To start off, I'd head to Latin America, probably squeezing in two cities. Mexico City seems like an obvious choice, although that would mean limiting myself to one South American destination: Santiago or Buenos Aires. All three of these cities are situated in regions I'd love to explore, and the fact that I speak a little Spanish would mollify any culture shock or trip anxiety I might otherwise experience.

Region 2: Europe
Honestly, I could skip it altogether. Yes, there are some fantastic cities here, but I've been to Western Europe three times now and I feel done. Stockholm and Belgrade sound the most appealing but would be towards the bottom of the overall list.

Region 3: Africa
My grasp of sub-Saharan Africa is weak at best, so I haven't even thought about the lower half of the continent. Along the Mediterranean, Tunis beckons me with its ancient history, and then of course there's Cairo. But that would depend on what I decided in the next category.

Region 4: Middle East
Yes, Cairo is actually in the Middle East, and it's also quite close to my next two candidates--Istanbul and Damascus. I'd likely have to choose one out of these three. Each has its own unique history, culture, language...I really wouldn't know how to decide. Hopefully I'd be able to make side trips to the two that didn't make the cut.

Oh yeah, and then there's Tehran. I want to go! Plenty of tourists do, and most come back with glowing reports. Come on, the stunning diversity of landscape, millennia of Persian history...the country should be on every traveler's itinerary. (Sorry, Mom, it's a part of the world I just can't pass up!)

Let's sum up. I've mentioned 10 possible cities so far, and there's still a lot of the globe left. This isn't as easy as it sounds!

Region 5: India
My knowledge is lacking, but I'd have to get one city in! Any suggestions?

Region 6: East Asia
Oh, the options. You could easily condense this entire trip within China's borders, so choosing just one city would be difficult. I've been to Shanghai and Hong Kong so would likely opt for Beijing. That would allow me to visit Mongolia again (yay!). But southern China really intrigues me.

I'm saving Seoul for a different trip, but Tokyo would be hard to say no to, even though I've been twice. It's such a major metropolis. And the same goes for Bangkok. Moving on, since Indonesia is one of the few Southeast Asian countries I didn't make it to, Jakarta would go on the list.

Region 7: Australia/Oceania
It's its own continent, after all, so it demands a visit. I hear Melbourne and Sydney are both cool, and perhaps I'd be able to skip over to New Zealand for a week or so. there. The scope of this one couldn't be much broader, but you're supposed to dream big, right?


kathy said...

What IS that in the backpack? Looks like an old picture?

hal said...

That's my gee-tar, the one I bought in Ireland and gave to Sally upon my return, clothed in a Guinness t-shirt.

Carla said...

To many people, Latin America is all the same from Mexico till the end of the world. The thing is that countries in South America are very different between each other. I actually had decided to rent an apartment in buenos aires , then go to Rio de Janeiro and that was it for South America. There I realized that Argentina is very different from Peru for instance, where the native culture is much stronger!