Thursday, February 17, 2005

Moku-yobi (Thursday)

MY GOD this week has been hard.

I'm getting settled into my house and really starting to enjoy it. It's becoming comfier and comfier with each book I unpack.

On Saturday I leave for a long weekend in Shanghai, and I'm looking forward to it. I've been to Shanghai once before, one year ago, with about ten military spouses (there's an interesting group), and we all toured together. Or we were supposed to. Two of the three nights I said I didn't feel good, waited until the group left the hotel together, and then ventured out on my own.

I love to travel -- it's my absolute number one favorite thing to do. It's kind of strange considering I'd left the state of Washington once (to go to Oregon) by the time I was 18. I'd never been on an airplane until I was 19 and took my first trip -- to Russia. I've traveled with boyfriends and once with my sister (the "I Can't Believe I'm 30" World Tour -- maybe the coolest and most fun thing I've ever done), but most of the time I travel alone. I can't think of anything more intense than finding yourself alone in a place you've never been, not speaking the language, having no agenda, and feeling curious about every single thing around you.

In anticipation of my trip, I've started to think about other places I've traveled to, and some special trips have come to mind. Here's a short list of my favorite places outside of the US (which is, a-hem, why you won't see Seattle on the list, Matt) and why. Cheers!

*Prague, Czech Republic -- I've been a few times, and the first time I hit it right before 500 million other people did, about ten years ago. It's magic. And it's the only city in the entire world where I don't get lost.

*Gimmelwald, Switzerland -- Gimmelwald is on the side of a mountain in the Swiss Alps (so steep you feel like you might fall off.) There are no cars (you have to take a cable car or two to get there), and the population is 170. I'm with Rick Steves: "If heaven isn't all it's cracked up to be, take me back to Gimmelwald."

*Phnom Phen, Cambodia -- I thought maybe I was on Mars; it was unlike anything I had ever imagined. When my plane landed, I thought, "Oh my God, what have I done?" Angkor Wat is only the beginning. I left thinking I would go back to live there someday.

*St. Petersburg, Russia -- It was 1990 and I sat back and watched history unfold.

*Lucca, Italy -- the walled city that I circled three times in the rain carrying a case of olive oil for presents for friends. I was looking for the train station, and by the third 'round, my heels were bleeding in my Keds and I was crying (and laughing.) I'll never forget that place!

*All over Europe -- art, art, art, art, art.

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