A good friend and I were talking about places we’ve always wanted visit. At the top of her list was Egypt. Spain was my top choice. We tried to think of a place that would interest both of us, if we ever got the opportunity to travel together, and could only agree on an African safari.
(Of course if time and money were not factors, we could have easily picked a spot or two!)
We realized two important things. All her top destinations had ruins or monuments of some sort, while most of my choices were known for good food!
So here’s my list (some I’ve been to, some not yet):
1 ) Italy – cappuccino, trippa, fresh porcini, pancetta, focaccia and more!
2 ) Spain – tapas, paella and jambon
3 ) France – crepes
4 ) Argentina – how can beef be so tender?
5 ) Greece – moussaka and more
6 ) China / Hong Kong – dumplings, noodles, dim sum and more
7) Africa (safari)
8 ) New Orleans – creole cooking, jambalaya
9 ) Thailand – I love Thai food
10 ) Mexico – carne asada, fresh fish, stews etc..
Other possibilities: Portugal (another exception: I don’t know what foods they’re known for), Japan, Quebec and New York (been there as a child; deserves a revisit).
We finally decided that Rome and Pompeii could be a good, more realistic meeting point than Africa. Hopefully someday we’ll have one travel adventure together that involves food and monuments!
Obviously I believe that travel is worthwhile. It is not life-changing or eye-opening for everybody, as it was for me, but stepping outside your routine and your own little corner of the world is important. From my personal standpoint, it always seems that the most open-minded people have done some traveling and not just the relax-on-the-beach kind of traveling. We Americans are insular enough as it is. Our movies, TV and foods dominate. The English language dominates. If you don’t travel to other countries, it’s easy to be self-righteous and pompous without reason.
At the same time, I know that not all travel is equal. My experiences in Italy were vastly different because I studied the language (and now am married to an Italian). I am able to participate in real conversations and get to know people. Contrast that to a tourist who can only exchange a few words with the waiter or taxi driver. I know it’s different. I had a nice time in France but language limitations also limited my experience. So before traveling, I would recommend learning a foreign language. It will enrich and humble you.