9 Places I Most Wanted To Visit In Europe At Age 22
So I actually made this list when I was studying abroad in Valencia, Spain. Two of these places I've already been. But I think it's important for me to not lose sight of my travel dreams, even though I can't necessarily do anything about them right now. Without further adieu, here's the list:
1) Istanbul, Turkey. The reason I wanted to go here is because of all the places in Europe, this is probably one of the most different from the US in terms of the culture and architecture. I love travel experiences that shake me to my core, and hopefully change my worldview, and Istanbul certainly did that for me. What it actually taught me is that Americans have tremendous misconceptions about the Islamic world. Some of my fondest memories in Turkey included random things like going to Starbucks and seeing Turkish 20 somethings chatting over a Simit and a latte, being at a Turkish restaurant and hearing Post Malone come on the radio, and the moment that my Turkish boss and I realized we were both wearing North Face jackets. I guess consumerism really is the local language. These moments were special to me because they were a reminder of how we're all so much more alike than we are different. I've been to Istanbul twice, and I have to say, it's one of my favorite places I've ever been in the whole world.*
2) Santorini, Greece specifically, but really anywhere in Greece. I have to confess that watching movies like The Sisterhood of The Traveling Pants 2 and Mamma Mia (I'm not entirely sure that this actually takes places in Santorini, but it does appear to be inspired by Santorini) when I was young and impressionable definitely impacted this being #2 on my list. The reason is because the architecture is breathtaking, but more importantly, I'm a beach person at hard, and Greece looks like it has some of the most beautiful beaches in the entire world. It seems like such a romantic destination, and I've always been intrigued by Greek culture.
3) Portugal. While I did study abroad in Valencia, Spain when I was in college, unfortunately I never quite made it to Portugal. I've heard that it has many of the bells and whistles that Spain possesses, but at a much cheaper price tag. I like the idea of getting that lovely Mediterranean culture without it being so expensive. As someone that's always looking to get the best travel bang for my bank, this appeals to me greatly. That's probably why these first three destinations are on the cheaper side (although I have no doubt that all of them have gotten significantly more expensive in recent years due to the increase in tourism)
4) Ireland. Although sometimes it drives me crazy, Boston is my home, and Ireland shares many similarities to Boston, which is part of why I wanted to visit Ireland. But the main reason is because of the breathtaking natural beauty it is known for. Unfortunately I didn't make it to the Cliffs of Moher, but that's one of many reasons for me to return. The architecture is also absolutely breathtaking, but most importantly I found the people to be extremely kind.
5) Prague, Czech Republic. I have to confess that travel blogger Drew Binsky, a man on a quest to visit every country in the world, was the person who put this place on my radar. Despite his vast travels, he claims that Prague is his favorite city in the world. My main reason for wanting to visit is because I've never been to Eastern Europe, and of all the cities in that part of the world, this one speaks to me the most.
6) Budapest, Hungary. I don't know very about this place, and that's precisely what intrigues me about it
7) Vienna, Austria. I had a conversation with a colleague of mine who said that to him, Vienna was just another beautiful European city, but for me, it's where The Sound of Music took place. For that reason alone, I'd love to visit it just to take the Sound of Music tour.
8) Norway. If I'm being honest, my main motivation initially for wanting to visit was to see my uncle and cousins that I never get to see. Also, I figure that whenever I can visit somewhere and get a free place to stay, it's worth checking out. However, I've always wanted to see the Northern Lights and the fjords, which have both been on my bucket list for years. Although I did live in a Alaska briefly, unfortunately I was not there at the right time of year to see the Northern Lights.
9) Amsterdam, Holland. This might seem like an ironic choice for someone like me who doesn't smoke or drink, however it just seems so freakin charming. The canals, the architecture, the coffee shops (I'm a total coffee shop connoisseur. The first thing I like to do in a new city is try out the local coffee shops).
Bonus Destinations: 1) Iceland. I've realized over the years that my favorite types of travel destinations are either ones where I'm thoroughly immersed in a culture vastly different from my own, or ones with stunningly beautiful landscapes. Iceland looks to me like it has maybe the most beautiful landscapes of anywhere in the whole world.
Place I Want To Most Visit in The US: The Grand Canyon. Yup, that's it for now. Sorry if this offends anyone.
*Lavalette, New Jersey still holds this title for me because it's where my grandfather has a beach house, and I spent all my summers there as a child. I'm actually lucky enough to have gotten a job there this summer, but that's another blog post