Cities I Want to Do It In

We may be in the mood for some comfort by the time we reach Europe. Photo by phongvan00 of morgueFile.

When I’m not on the road, I read a lot and think about what things I’d like to do while travelling. John’s working on a separate post about his food fantasies, but in the meantime, here’s my list of places where I’d love to enjoy some specific experiences:

Get a haircut

We’re travelling for at least a year, so I’m sure to need a few of these. Some places just scream style – I’m curious about which of these cities will see me emerge with the best new ‘do.
• London :: You need only glance at blogs like The Style Scout and Savvy London to know that London is one of the style capitals of the world. Celebrated hairstyles from mod to punk originated here and, while I’m not looking to go retro, I’m bound to walk out of a salon here with something chic.
• Prague :: A Czech woman is my top pick from hairdressers past. I frequented her chair in the East Village and always came out with a top ‘do. Prague is fast becoming one of the world’s fashion capitals and I’m keen to check out the stylist talent there.
• Tokyo :: I’m a little concerned about the language barrier here, but I’ve heard some of the world’s most luxurious salons reside in Japan. And how can I not be tempted when I see the locks in Tokyo street fashion photos?

Visit a museum

I have a secret travel confession: I’m not big on just any old museum. I’ve been to most of the world’s greatest ones already (some of them several times) and lately I’ve been more into exploring cities and observing what is going on around me in the here and now. I do, however, still love cultural museums and a few have really piqued my interest.
• Wellington :: The Te Papa Museum is the national museum of New Zealand and features not only art displays, but also exhibits about the nature, history and culture of the country. I’m especially looking forward to learning more about the Maori people.
• Vienna :: The fascinating options here are plentiful. On my list are: the Pathological and Anatomical State Museum (Pathologisch-anatomisches Bundesmuseum Wien), the Sigmund Freud Museum, and the Museum of Undertakers (Bestattungsmuseum der Bestattung Wien). Here is a complete list of the museums in Vienna.
• Warsaw :: I’m a quarter Polish and never really learned much about this heritage from my family while growing up. The Warsaw Uprising Museum looks really interesting, as does the museum about the famous bard, Adam Mickiewicz (I have the name Mickiewicz in my family history, so this is of special curiosity for me). There is also a Caricature Museum that I’d love to check out. Here is a further list of Warsaw museums.

Modern Maori carvings at the Botanic Gardens in Auckland, NZ. Photo by melodi2 of morgueFile.

Eat a steak

Sometimes I just get a craving for a good steak. Since we’re going to some of the world’s beef capitals, I’m sure to add some new favourite steak joints to my list. The top three cities I’m looking forward to are:
• Buenos Aires :: While many debate over whether this is the best beef in the world, it is unique in the way the cattle are raised and fed and, more importantly for the traveller, steaks here are affordable. I’m no expert, but this great post about Argentine beef will provide more information.
• Dublin :: I only recently heard that Irish beef is outstanding, so I’m curious to try it. The cattle in Ireland are mostly grass-fed (as in Argentina), and apparently this is some magic grass. How can we not give it a try?
• Kobe :: This is the one I’m most looking forward to. We met a traveller from Kobe while on a wine tour just outside of Launceston (in Tasmania) a few years back. The first thing he mentioned about his hometown was the beef. It comes from a Wagyu cow and is known for its fatty well-marbled texture, extreme tenderness and unique flavour. What’s that? They’re massaged with sake and fed large quantities of beer? More on that here.

Check out a festival

It’s hard to land in the right places at the right times for festivals when travelling unless you’ve specifically planned around it. This year we only planned for one festival in particular and will just luckily happen to be in town for another big one.
• Curico :: The annual Fiesta de la Vendimia, or Wine Harvest Festival, is held in this town south of Santiago, Chile. I’ve been trying to get information about whether there will be a festival in 2011 because the city fell victim to the devastating earthquake that happened earlier this year.
• Edinburgh :: We’re catching up with some friends from Aberdeen while we’re in Scotland and have planned to meet up in Edinburgh. It looks like the timing is going to plop us right in the middle of the Fringe Festival. I can’t wait to check out the acts and atmosphere of the world’s largest art festival.
• Munich :: When John and I first met in 2004, I was on my way to Oktoberfest. If you know our story, you also know that I never made it because I decided to stay with him in Greece. So I’m finally getting to experience the iconic beer festival in 2011.

Splurge on accommodation

I may be a budget traveller, but I still have expensive taste. We’re staying in hostels and cheap hotels mostly, but we’ve saved some money for a few designated splurges. If we can stick to our budget, I’d be keen to live it up in:
• Lisbon :: Before John and I decided to take off travelling for an extended period of time, we had planned to take our honeymoon in Portugal. We only ended up having a very short mini-break after our wedding in September because, well, a longer one would be a little redundant considering our plans. But I wouldn’t mind sticking with our original location for a luxurious hiatus during our travels. Lisbon is home to some pretty amazing properties, including Hotel Albatroz and the Lapa Palace.
• Hamburg :: Since it is home to the largest number of millionaires in Germany, surely Hamburg has something for us? I’ve got my eye on the ultra-hip SIDE.
• Zurich :: Switzerland is expensive anyway, so why not splash out here? I could easily prop my feet up at The Dolder Grand, Widder or Baur au Lac.

Looking forward to some amazing wine tours. Photo by penywise of morgueFile.

Take a hike

We really enjoy hiking and have some serious treks planned in New Zealand, Chile and Peru. But I’m also aware that several of the cities we’re visiting have great hiking not far from the city centre.
• Auckland :: New Zealand is prime tramping ground, with heaps of short and long hiking tracks that are enjoyed by many locals and visitors year-round. It’s not often that you find great walks in a country’s largest city, however. The 16 km Coast to Coast Walkway takes you through the varied landscapes from Waitemata to Manukau harbours and past five volcanic sites.
• Budapest :: The Buda hills are meant to have some wonderful hikes, perfect for the time of year that we’ll be there (September).
• Freiburg :: I cannot wait to see The Black Forest. We’ve planned for about five days in this university town and hope to do as many hikes in the surrounding region as we can.

Listen to live music

I love all kinds of music. We’ll probably check out bands in more cities than just these, but here are some standouts I’m really looking forward to.
• Cordoba :: This lively city in Argentina gave birth to its own unique music style, the cuarteto and from what I’ve been reading, all kinds of music is popular in the bars and clubs around town here. It just sounds like a great scene.
• Ljubljana
:: The capital city of Slovenia looks to have some awesome nightlife spots and a happening alternative music scene. Worth a look.
• Berlin :: Punk rock and alternative music feature heavily in the Kreuzberg and Prenzlauer Berg districts. Enough said.

Go on a wine tour

We’re big wine fans and like visiting wineries and learning about new regions and vintages. Some of the top places on our itinerary for sampling wine are:
• Napier :: A few Hawkes Bay companies offer wine tours by bike. I’m not sure how the drinking and pedalling is going to go down, but having never done this type of excursion, I’m keen to experience it. New Zealand has fantastic wines in general.
Santiago :: Chilean wines are outstanding and the country is the fifth largest exporter in the world. Many wineries lie in close proximity to Santiago, so we definitely want to check those out.
• Mendoza :: Argentina also produces amazing wines and Mendoza produces two-thirds of it. There are over a thousand wineries there and they produce some different varieties such as Malbec, Tempranillo and Torrontes.

I’ve only listed cities we plan to visit in 2011 – what do you think? Is there a city you’ve been dying to do something special in? Have you experienced any of the items on my “wish-list?”

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