While importing all of my old blog content from Vox this week (and trying not to go back and edit myself), I had a chance to look back at some of my favorite trips. While I can’t say that I have absolute favorites (partially since I rarely make repeat visits internationally since there are so many places I want to visit), there are a few spots that stand out.
Best for Lifestyle
One afternoon in B.A., we stopped for a quick drink and snack, inadvertently ordering this bottle of wine and a massive pizza. All further plans were moot.
Without a doubt, Buenos Aires is fantastic for eating, drinking, and just being. A typical day in B.A. for me would start late with great coffee and yummy medialunes (tiny, sweet croissants), some wandering around town without any grueling itinerary (there aren’t too many must-see sights in B.A., the fun is exploring neighborhoods), a late lunch with a glass (or 3) of wine, a nap, and a late dinner of steak and more wine. Best part is how cheap said steak and wine is in Argentina. In my opinion, this kind of relaxed city vacation beats a beach and an all-inclusive any day.
See also: Portugal: lovely beaches, rambling towns, amazing white port that made me forget I don’t like port.
Best for Sightseeing
Deesis Mosaic commemorates return to Orthodox use, one of many faiths that have claimed the use of Hagia Sofia.
Once you’ve been to Istanbul and seen the museums, palaces, and mosques, everywhere else seems a little weak. The Statue of Liberty could fit inside Hagia Sofia and it was built in FIVE years (are you listening WTC Memorial?). Want to see diamonds and emeralds the size of your head? Topkapi Palace has you covered. Need spices of every conceivable variety, antiques of questionable origin, and tube socks at cut-rate prices? Check and mate.
See also: London has some of the world’s best museums (many of them free), atmosphere abounds in every pub and market, and there’s more history than you can shake a stick at.
Berlin’s East Side Gallery is a long stretch of the former Wall covered with murals and occasional Big Lebowski references.
Before going to Berlin this summer, I heard it was a very happening city, but I was surprised how very cool it felt to me. I was impressed at how the city embraced every bit of its sordid past and is now thriving with art and design and food. Between my (Russian) husband’s love of the wedding cake-style of Soviet architecture and my love of graffiti, there was endless stuff to photograph and admire. This is definitely a city I’d return to, if not live in, just to see if it can sustain its hipness without becoming hipsterish.
See also: I’ve heard Belfast is like Shanghai, booming with construction that could completely change the city scape in a few years. While it may not have moved on from their past in the way that Berlin has, I felt in 2007 that it was definitely on the verge of something.
No Superlative Theme other than Begs a Revisit
Don’t feed monkeys in Japan or they might eat you and get a stomachache.
I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about Japan, a place more full of oddity and beauty than any other. My trip in 2009 only scratched the surface of Tokyo and Kyoto. I’d go back again just for another exorbitant-but-worth-it Sakura martini at the Park Hyatt bar or a peek at Gyoza Stadium.
See also: Chile was another fantastic place, with lots going on in Santiago and Valparaiso and the almost magical Elqui Valley. We managed to spend nearly 2 weeks in Chile without visiting Patagonia, Easter Island, the Atacama Desert, or even a pisco distillery. I”m glad it gives me an excuse to go back.