Saturday, March 7, 2009

Roam.


I am taking a month off this summer.

I find this really mind blowing. I have been with my company over 6 years now and I figured that before I turned 7 there, I might want to take more than just a week off at a time.

When I requested the time off many months ago, it seemed pretty distant and I didn't start planning anything for fear the whole thing might blow up. But no. It's coming. So now the questions. When? Where?

I want to go to Italy, Greece and Turkey. A part of my wants to take a boat of some kind from southern Italy to Tunisia just to place a foot on that continent. But then I think I should go to Croatia and Montenegro. Who knows. Somewhere sunny and beachy and not here.



But a larger part of me is tired of getting on planes for work and kinda wants to get in the car with no predetermined plan, and just drive. Away. To California. Through Arizona. On over to Austin, Texas. Keep going through the south.

Decisions, decisions.

My big anxiety now is this: don't squander the time. Do something memorable. And relaxing. And get a bitchin' tan while I'm at it.

I am open to your suggestions. Especially if you've taken a chunk of time off and done something similar. Did you take the trip of a lifetime? When? And to where? Did you love it?

83 comments:

Lisa said...

Are you going alone? If so, I think that might need to limit how adventurous you are. Call me old fashioned, but I think there are some countries a woman on her on shouldn't go.

My dream trip is Fiji / New Zealand / Australia. A week and a half at each. And once you get to Fiji (10 hours from LA), the subsequent flights are much shorter. Guaranteed to get a tan down there. Oh wait, except you are like me. Pasty. Good luck with that.

Emily said...

We spent our Honeymoon on Corsica and have decided that if we ever have the time/resources we'll fly into Paris, take the train south to Nice, spend some time on the beach there and then take the overnight ferry to Bastia, Corsica and spend time there before doing it all in reverse (or flying out depending on time.)

If you haven't been to the Mediterranean, though, you must go. Must.

suzewearsshoes said...

I travelled around Europe by train for a month and it was the best decision ever. I used a ticket that is exclusively for European citizens, but this one is available to you and gives you 'unlimited travel on 1st Class National Railway networks in Bulgaria, Greece, Macedonia, Romania, Serbia & Montenegro and Turkey'. It's called the Balkan Flexipass http://www.train-ticket.net/europe/railpass/balkan/index.htm
Trains are really good all over and you can go wherever, whenever you like. I can't recommend something like this enough, I had such a great time :)

Anonymous said...

How funny--I've been at my company 7.5 years and am also taking a month off this summer (going to do a language immersion program in a small town in France). It was time, and my employer was great about agreeing to it.

Anonymous said...

All great ideas.

If you take time off in the summer, don't go to southern states. The humidity will kill you and you won't get that tan b/c you'll be locked up in the ac.

The Squirrel Girl said...

I got to go to Greece and Turkey after college and it was amazing. I highly suggest Istanbul, it was the most interesting city I've ever been to.

paola said...

Is this once in a lifetime 'go to Europe' trip, where you have to fit in some sightseeing?

Or are you just going to bum around on some boats, drink wine in cafes and have a good time? What's your budget like? Are you backpacking?

I've been travelling in the Med all my life (am half Italian, have lived in the South of France, island-hopped all over the Aegean, been to Turkey two or three times, spent time in Spain etc. etc.)so have been to lots of places you might be considering. Let me know.

But basically think trains and/or ferries. The Greek ferry system in particular is amazing and you could easily spend a month wandering from island to island in Greece without a plan and just looking every few days at the ferry schedules to see which island you can get to next. It's an incredibly liberating way to travel.

Anonymous said...

If you don't mind the heat, Turkey, India, Japan. I've never been to Africa or South America, but of all of the places I've been, those are the three where I stepped off of the plane and felt insanely happy, in awe and strangely at home. It depends on your budget of course. As for "don't travel to some countries as a single woman", give me a break! There a more than a few times I've felt threatened as a woman in the U.S., so it's just common sense to have your wits about you and take precautions wherever you go. I wouldn't call the commenter "old-fashioned" for saying this, just limited and racist. Probably someone who hasn't really traveled much either outside of the world of resorts and countries almost exactly like America. Anyway, enjoy and take lots of lovely decorno pics wherever you go!

desiree said...

Flying...Bora Bora

Driving...down the coast of California then over to the Grand Canyon.

Anonymous said...

My only advice is to avoid trying to see and do everything. Pick a country or two and really soak up where you are instead of trying to cover a lot of ground. I made this mistake in Ireland. My dream destination is the Amalfi Coast. Sun. Beach. Food. Wine. And really hot hotel sex with my gorgeous husband. xoxo

Shelly said...

I couldn't face getting on yet another plane (my job required a great deal of travel).
Rented a beach house on San Juan Island, bought a case of vodka and invited a few carefully chosen friends to spend weekends. That was ten years ago and the friends I made that summer are still a big part of my life today.

alishagwen said...

one word... atlantis!
in the bahamas... heaven on earth!

btw... i love your blog! and read it daily! most blogs i browse through pics but i really enjoy reading yours and almost always get a good laugh! i started my own a few months back because of your blog (along with a few others i love)... so thank you for inspiring me!

Paul Anater said...

Some friends and I rented a villa in Sorrento last spring. Sorrento is a great stepping off point to further explore the Amalfi Coast, though it's a little touristy. Next time it will be a villa in Positano. The Amalfi Coast is other worldly, there's no other word for it.

the quarter rat said...

I spent a magical summer years ago in Greece on a study program based in Aegina (an island in the Saronic Gulf about a half hour from Athens by hydrofoil). When the program was over some friends and I went to Turkey and spent about a week in Istanbul and then went down the coast - Bergama, Didyma, Pamukkale, Seljuk - and into the interior a bit to Bursa. After my friends went home I went to Venice and then Vicenza to see Palladio's villas. This was over a period of 9 weeks (with a six-week architecture studio program in there), but you could do it in a month.

I used to be a real globe-trotter, but now I'll do well to make it to London in the next 2 years...

Jennifer said...

great ideas, i like the idea of going to greece or somewhere goregeous. since you have a chunk of time go where you won't be able to jet off to for a long weekend. and i second the thought to take it slow. maybe have a loose plan to visit three or four places closeby but if you fall in love with one just stay there. i find my travels where i soak up the local culture instead of rushing around the most memorable and recharging.

Nina79 said...

If you want a trip that is both relaxing but also interesting, don't try to do or see too much. I once travelled trough the UK in 2 weeks, never staying in one place more then 2 nights and after a while I just wanted to stay somewhere.
On the other hand I have travelled trough Cuba for a month and Argentina 6 weeks and that time I had enough time to stay somewhere for almost a week if I liked it. I would suggest to pick one region (be it Italy, France or California), some places you want to see and make up the rest as you go.
As I live in Europe I've never gone on a road trip but always travelled by train and I can highly recommend it.
When are you planning to go? Because keep in mind that a lot of places in southern Europe are almost unbearbly hot in Summer (July-August and September) and that might be ok to lie on the beach but too hot to do any sightseeing.

Jules said...

Dubrovnik, Croatia is fabulous! You would be relatively close to Italy, Greece, or Turkey as well.

Costa Rica is a different kind of wonderful too!

Lolo said...

I say go with your first impulse, it's going to be different to be traveling when the purpose and destination have nothing to do with business.

Christina said...

I agree with previous posters who recommend staying in just one or two spots. It is wonderful to settle into a place, get into a little routine, maybe meet a couple locals and then take weekend trips to lovely nearby places. It also takes almost all the stress out of traveling. If you are up for it it's also (paradoxically) fun to have a bit of a working vacation- take a language class for example- it gives a structure to your day and connects you with people you wouldn't otherwise meet.

Also if you go in July/August make sure you aren't traveling somewhere whose the entire populace has the same month off and therefore all the stores, restaurants, etc are closed while they take their vacations somewhere else.

muranogirl said...

Puglia, Italy in July, not August it's far too hot and too crowded. Fly into Bari and drive north and stay at Baia Delle Zagare: http://www.hotelbaiadellezagare.it/
sleep, eat and lay in the sun then move a little more north to the town of Vieste for more gong on. Next head south to Ostuni for more beaching etc,and from there you can catch a ferry from Brindisi to Greece or Croatia.
Driving in Italy is actually very fun and the autostrada is extremely efficient. The food is truly divine in this part of southern Italy. I have been traveling here for over 20 years and cannot recommend it more!

us said...

If you do decide to go domestic I totally recommend Cumberland Island. It's insane. It was once a private island of the Carnege family and now it's a preserve with old crumbling mansions all over it. It's so relaxing.
It's where Caroline and John-John ran away to get married.
Check it out.

Lolo said...

Oh yeah, my best vacations have been the ones that were spent slowly, some scheduled sights but mostly wandering and relaxing for days at a stretch. It is nice to hit some "have to"s because it makes the days in between even more luxurious.

Brooke said...

Austin, Texas would welcome you!

Iheartfashion said...

I took a monthlong trip to Italy last year, split between Rome and Florence. Have also spent a month in Paris and southwest France. Both incredibly great trips with spectacular food, wine, museums and rest. I wouldn't try to go to TOO many places in a month, or it's not at all relaxing, all the transfers and switching trains, planes and hotels. I like to rent an apartment and really get to know a city, grocery shop, hang out in caf├ęs, etc.
My dream trip is Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora.

MirandaJ said...

I agree with the person who recommended that you go to Greece and travel around by ferry. You can even incorporate Italy by ferry if you like. You won't be sad. Greece will steal your heart - the landscape, the food, the people, the SEA!
Have so much fun!

Anonymous said...

Lisa (7 March 10.03am), you're old fashioned.

Ann said...

anon 5:51pm

Lisa is being practical and cautious, both markers of intelligence. Much of the world is not populated with the extraordinary number of ball buster females this country is composed of.

Amy said...

I have to agree and add my two cents about the Amalfi coast. It's the most gorgeous, magical place on earth! We spent 5 days in Amalfi and took day trips to Positano and Capri. These days were some of the most amazing of my life! I wish I could take a few weeks to just go back to this area!

I've also heard amazing things about Corsica, Sardinia, Sicily, and the Greek Islands. I would immerse myself in one or two of these areas for my vacation. Pack your beach bag, some sexy sandals, a watercolour set and camera and you're good to go!

~M said...

Santorini.

Anonymous said...

I spent a month in China. I lived in Beijing, but traveled between Shanghai and Xi'an-

It was amazing, interesting, beautiful, ancient, and just plain amazing. The food was great, the people were amazing, the culture is so different.

atomica said...

try this...
http://www.sukantara.com/landscape.html

and the peacocks will come to steal your toast every morning!
it's one of the most beautiful places i've been to.

Anonymous said...

Go for it. How about following old Route 66?

But skip Texas in the summer. Seriously. It's hotter 'n hellfire between July and September.

Have also heard the Slavik countries are wonderful and CHEAP!

Anonymous said...

wherever you go, spend the time in one place and do day or overnights from a rental, you'll learn so much more about the place and the heuristics and assumptions you live with.

i'd pick barcelona, or copenhagen, in a second, but will probably envy any choice you make.

s. said...

Europe is fine, but I think a roadtrip through the US would be even better. Honestly.

And, now more than ever, it's time for you to find pride in, and support, your own country.

Drive, meet folks, drive, eat at diners (and read the Sterns' book "Roadfood"), drive, sleep in cool little motels, swim in lakes, sing along with your car radio at the top of your lungs. Drive some more.

You can hang out on the beaches in Greece and Turkey with Eurotrash when you're 60. For now, drive!

Colleen said...

Croatia is marvelous- Dubrovnik, Split, Hvar, Trogir are all well worth seeing. You can also take the ferry from Italy if you want to combine both countries. As a woman traveling alone, I would avoid Turkey. I lived in the Kuwait for 2 years and was never as harassed as I was in 4 days in Istanbul.

Anonymous said...

I spent a 5 weeks traveling the Balkans and Turkey with my mother. I recommend Croatia and Montenegro. We were there in June and yes, it was hot. But you get used to it very quickly. You just drink more cold white wine and go in the sea. Dubrovnik and other Montengro cities are like Tuscan hill towns, but set on the impossibly beautiful Adriatic Sea. Sarajevo is not far, and will break your heart with its beauty and melancholy.

It is not cheap, but cheaper than Western Europe. And like another poster said, Hvar is not to be missed.

If you decide to go, I am sure that I and other posters can leave more detailed comments with travel tips.

My mother and I were in Istanbul, and did not have real problems. Yes, men wanted to talk to us, but they never followed us or made problems.

Susan

tracey said...

Definitely Australia via Fiji. Firstly, Sydney is spectacular (shopping, beaches, nightlife etc) and up north you get the relaxing beaches etc. It is also CHEAP for Americans (you will be getting almost double your money). But of course, I am biased because I live in the spectacular Sydney! (Europe is soooo expensive).

Zelda said...

stay home and watch greek croatian tunisian you name it ,tv. ;-)

Anonymous said...

You could fly to Spain (Sevilla) and go down the Costa de la Luz to Tarifa (a great windsurfing town) and then take the hydrofoil ferry (35 minutes) across the Straits of Gibraltar to Tangier and then travel to Marrakech by train. It is fun and the food and wines are great and it is much cheaper than Greece or Italy.

If thinking about Turkey I would suggest the southern coast (Antalya area). It is lovely, the food is great and you don't get hassled the way that you do in Istanbul. Plus, you can go hiking, sea kayaking, sailing or diving and are guaranteed to get a tan. Lovely place.

Anonymous said...

Forget Dubrovnik. Too many suspiscious attacks on young woman recently. However the rest of Europe is a must. I've had 2 extended trips in Europe and the experience is something I will never forget. Take a slow train down the western coast of Italy and stop at all the small towns along the way! Fabulous. I should be saying Sydney as that is my hometown, but we are heading into Winter. Not the best time to come here. Goodluck.

Anonymous said...

Do you have to go in the summer?

September or October would be HEAVEN with ANY of those places.

DO NOT come to Arizona in the summer. You have been warned. Actually, I can't think of any good time, or any good reason to come to Arizona at all.

Anonymous said...

while there is a certain glory about a road trip...spending a month traipsing through the south isn't half as glorious as all the places you mentioned. plus you will sweat to death and dream of the beach. get on the plane!

David said...

All really good ideas. I don't think it matters where or what, I think it's just important that you go.

As for flying vs. driving, I say do both. Europe first, a few places in a few weeks, and then home for a roadtrip.

I'm envious, enjoy!

rerun said...

i'm envious too, but look forward to a posting from time to time while you're away. or disappear completely and regale us when you return!

the US is great, and the thought of hitting the road and being aimless is nice and all, but my suggestion is GO AS FAR AWAY AS YOU CAN. the south is not pretty for those not used to it. i hear that missouri/mississippi are HORRID. georgia can see 90 degree heat at 9pm.

pick a central place that allows you to reach other interesting points with little hassle. it's the nicest feeling to get up in a cozy place and have the locals recognize you and greet you. so establish a base and go from there. also agreed, don't take a month when the locals are on vacation. you'll just have tons of other tourists.

you've got a good head on your shoulders, and i think you'll be fine wherever you go. vaya con dios & keep us posted.

Donna said...

Hey ya'll, ease up on Lisa. Afghanistan and Pakistan would not be safe for a female American traveling alone. These two examples are extreme, but there are others that should be avoided, especially if relaxation is key component to Decorno's vacation.

I've traveled extensively. Countries I found more challenging as a female include Egypt, Kenya, India and China. I am a tall, blonde, big-boned woman. I stuck out like a sore thumb in these countries, regardless of my attempts to try to blend in, which made things more challenging. I was continually groped in Egypt, for example. Indian woman usually travel with a male escort, so navigating the multitudes was difficult and tiring, but not awful.

My personal all time favorite place on the planet is Vietnam. Yes Vietnam!

jean said...

Island hopping in Greece, gawd, that sounds wonderful. I've been to Italy and just love it. In a month you could cover a lot of ground, or just enjoy a region. Given that so many places attract you, you could see which one gives you the most for your money (and the exchange rate). Sounds mundane, but it could help you get some traction amongst various fabulous destinations.

I agree that the southeast US is not a good summer destination. Southwest is another story. We love it, even if it's boiling hot. Utah, Arizona, the corny ole (wondrous and mind-boggling) Grand Canyon.

I'd think about how spontaneous you want to be. Everyone's got their own style that works, but personally I hate arriving at a strange place and having to spend half an afternoon hunting for somewhere to lay my head. So I usually plan accommodations.

PS I'm glad you're not planning to spend your vacation working on your house! That's okay for weekends but not a month off.

Anonymous said...

June! Turkey!

Bring me back Iznik - and I don't want the stuff that looks like it was made in special ed class.

Also, I don't want a rug, but I would love to see some of their textiles.

Oh, and I've seen Midnight Express; be careful. You are no Brad Davis.

Anonymous said...

ummm....you mean you will be abandoning us for a WHOLE MONTH???? I am seriously concerned.

Pigtown-Design said...

We rented a cottage in the Cotswolds for a month through the Landmark Trust. Great prices and multiple sizes and locations throughout the UK. Our cottage was centrally located and in a small town. We travelled around the area during the weeks and stayed in town during the weekends. With the dollar getting stronger, it's a good value.

'Ndez said...

How exciting! The croatia trip sounds beautiful. A friend did it and loved. My job affords summers off so here are some ideas for you from things i've done:
- a month in Thailand. The dollar still goes far here!
-a month in Peru (macchu pichu, trek the andes, the amazon, nazca lines)
-a month in mexico (avoid touristy spots and your dollar can still stretch to cover a month cheap)
have fun!
~j

Sweetpea said...

Arizona is great in March and April.

From May on, the temperature is just too high to be able to enjoy the outdoors for over 15 minutes at a time.

thestamfordwife said...

I vote for Thailand and Vietnam. I spent 5 weeks there and it was the most amazing trip I've taken. I recently did two weeks via sailboat in the Greek Isles and that was also great, but Thailand was magical (morbidly hot, but magical). My second favorite trip was a month through Spain and Italy via train...so fun and beautiful! What a fun decision to get to make...good for you!!

I think if it were me, I'd spend a month in France with my homebase in Paris...I just adore that city.

thestamfordwife said...

I vote for Thailand and Vietnam. I spent 5 weeks there and it was the most amazing trip I've taken. I recently did two weeks via sailboat in the Greek Isles and that was also great, but Thailand was magical (morbidly hot, but magical). My second favorite trip was a month through Spain and Italy via train...so fun and beautiful! What a fun decision to get to make...good for you!!

I think if it were me, I'd spend a month in France with my homebase in Paris...I just adore that city.

Anonymous said...

I've taken a many road trips in the US and Canada and even one in July/August (for 6 weeks including AZ and the Grand Canyon) and didn't feel like it was horrible but yes, it was HOT especially when the AC broke!

I would highly recommend a road trip. Maybe across the US, escape to the Bahamas for a week or 10 days (you can take a ferry from FL and it's usually in the 70s). Then take the northern route back home.

Anonymous said...

I think any vacation anywhere would be wonderful. The California coast is amazing and makes for a memorable time. Something about the coast brings life into perspective.

My husband and I had the trip of a lifetime a dozen years ago when we were given triple e tickets by a family member (he was a pilot for twa and it was part of his annual perks to get 10 triple e tickets....translation: if the airline could get more money for a piece of luggage you were out). We had hoped to make it to Greece and spend all of our time there, we were bumped in Rome. The best thing that could of happened! We LOVED Italy. Spent a little over a week on trains and immersed ourselves in the culture. Go to Orvieto if you get a chance. Breathtaking! Reluctantly, at first, we left from Rome to finish out our trip in Greece. It didn't begin too great...found Athens to be a bit too commercial and the locals, not extremely friendly. But we only stayed for a day and hopped a plane to Santorini. OMG! It was gorgeous! We spent our first night in a bed and breakfast that had an amazing family run restaurant attached. Met a couple from Washington D.C. (she had wonderful stories of having been a personal secetary for C. Everett Coup years before and spent many hours hearing an insiders view of politics in the other Washington) we are still in touch with them and have visited them in D.C. since (you will meet so many amazing people who could end up being lifelong friends). We ended up in the town of Oia (mind you, we were flying by the seat of our pants.....ended up on a bus with the locals and their livestock to get there), where many of the locals live in cave dwellings. We found a lovely bed and breakfast that was indeed a cave dwelling with a balcony overlooking the Mediteranian. It was magical. Had dinner down the hill in another cave where a wonderful woman who had moved from the states after finding love on vacation there with a local. She and her husband had opened a true family run restaurant where you were invited into the kitchen to see what they had cooked for the patrons and you literally chose your food there from the ovens. Again...a magical evening overlooking the twinkling harbor below as beautiful greek music drifted up from the Mediteranean. Go Decorno...have the adventure of a lifetime. And here's my two cents....be brave and go with as loose of an itinerary as possible. Being free to let the adventure unfold can make for a much more exciting and memorable experience. Since that trip we have traveled this way many times and never have we been disappointed.

Carol
gatheringshome.com

red ticking said...

checking out places now for a little vacation and you need to look at ana y jose' in tulum mexico... looks pretty amazing...

Meg said...

I've been lucky enough to take more than one trip of a lifetime. And yet... I am still green with envy. A month? Sounds so unbelievably fantastic. Very jealous.

Paul suggested Sorrento, which IS lovely. I would go to the Amalfi coast itself, but it's probably a personal decision, because both are lovely. Sorrento is easier to visit Naples from, if Naples is interesting to you. Both leave you in striking distance of Paestum and Pompeii. The summer laziness of the Amalfi coast (or the Lipari Islands for that matter, which I would pick) is delicious. In Italy, Umbria is worth slow, relaxed exploration of, and easily merits a month-long house rental. But many of the provinces do.

London is amazing, just amazing in the summer. On warm days you can go to the women's bathing pond in Hampstead Heath, and just be another pair of boobs getting a great tan and a quick swim in a public park, and on cloudy days you can hit the British Museum to see the Elgin Marbles, or the Sloane Museum for some of the Piranesi work and its very individual nature (my fave). Hot days can send you wandering through the rest of Hampstead Heath, to check out Kenwood House and the like. And a month is hardly enough for London- really just enough to make you long for more.

Road-tripping in North America? From Seattle, San Francisco is about a 14-15 hour drive (not, um, that I spend much time with maps, driving distances and estimated times). You can hit the Redwood Forest, some of the gorgeous coast, the Anderson Valley and Napa and/or Sonoma en route. You can then spend some time (or not) in San Francisco before heading to either King's Canyon or Sequoia Natl Park (and the most delicious looking platform tent hotel, ever). And at that point, you can decide whether to skip back up so that you can hit the Tetons and Yellowstone, or the Oregon coast, or just... home. I spend more time than I should mapping out imaginary road-trips, but now and then I manage to scheme my way into making a little bit of them happen (although in the cross-country trip I took a few years ago with the kids, I didn't anticipate the Nebraska state trooper playing dirty pool on speeding tickets, or my daughter screaming most of the way across Wyoming).

Have I mentioned my envy? Very green. Probably quite a pretty shade of it, even.

Stacy said...

I second Turkey: Istanbul is one of the most amazing experiences. I did the city, then a week on a sailboat-- Turkish crew of 6, and it is still the top 5 most extraordinary experiences of my life. Don't do one of those big cruise liners-- tacky! Don't go somewhere "easy" (I'm talking to you Paris, London, Italy, etc.) Food in Turkey is to die for, and the daily calls to prayer are exquisitely beautiful. Advice: go to the Turkish bath before the sailboat so you don't get your Mediterranean tan rubbed off!

Suzy said...

Go to Europe, you will never regret it. Hire a car, and just drive if you don't want to plan. We back packed for 3 months from China across land through Russia, Europe and ended in London. Best 3 months of my life.

Anonymous said...

If money is an issue then SE Asia is perfect. I've lived and traveled in China for three years. The most harassed I've been is when people want to take my picture because I stand out here. I feel completely safe here.

Thailand and Vietnam are also very high on my list. I'm going for a week in Vietnam at the end of March and moving to Thailand in July. Both are relatively cheap, relatively hassle free (at least from the lone female point of view), and both are so different from Seattle (or Tacoma, which is my home town...holla!) that you know you're as far away as can be. Oh, and traveling from the west coast makes them fairly easy places to get to, as far as traveling the world goes.

pve design said...

If it involves food, then I say go.
I like the sound of a road trip.

the sweet life with olives said...

I'm probably biased as I live in Italy, but a European adventure could be fabulous. It mixes loads of great aspects, beauty, food, history, architecture, quality of life, pace of living, all the while allowing you to be in the country, the sea, the mountains or a city. The options are endless and with a train, short plane ride, car rental, bike or boat you can accomplish so much. The Europeans are also very accustomed to the idea of taking a month off for vacationing so you can easily find lodging anywhere you heart desires. If you want any tips on things to see and do in Italy drop me a line. I'd be happy to help with restaurant suggestions, hotels, ideas etc... Happy Trails!
ps. when does your month begin?

Kara said...

I just got back from Seychelles and it was beautiful. I stopped in Dubai to meet a friend first then we traveled on after exploring for a day. I highly recommend Seychelles.

Kwana said...

What an inspiration you are! You know me, I say follow your gut. Go with your true heart. You know what you've been longing to do. The idea of Mediterranean beaches sound heavenly to me.

Meg said...

I just traveled around the world with my husband for 5 months. (you can read about it : www.latecheckin.blogspot.com) We had been living in New Zealand the past three years prior. It will be winter in NZ when you have your month, so I'm not sure I'd go then, it's far better in the summer. While I'm young, I like going to countries that are a little rough and exciting like India, Indonesia, Egypt....I know I will still be able to handle London/Paris/Italy - Europe, when I'm 75. So for now, while I'm young, we have been exploring wilder, crazier, fun countries. We spent 3 weeks in Bali, HIGHLY recommended. Loved every second. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or recommendations about any of the countries we went to. Traveling is so liberating and inspiring. You will be so happy you took this time for yourself, and your spirit!

Natasha said...

I say this with hesitation since I go almost every summer, and have been slightly annoyed by the growing number of tourists, but the answer is CROATIA. If you're a sunseeker/ocean lover looking for a real escape, any town on the coast will be a hit.

Anonymous said...

With airfares so great, go go go! You will not regret anywhere remotely Mediterranean/Adriatic/Aegean, but I can highly recommend Turkey and Croatia/Montenegro--just don't expect the latter to be as posh as the lame travel magazines make them sound.

fromtherightbank said...

That's so European - good for you! I'm one of those people who just LOVES everywhere she's ever been but I think the Italy/Greece/Turkey/Tunisia idea is awesome. Those are some of my favorite places in the world. Really.

red ticking said...

i also have a friend who has a place in paris...let me know if you want her #.

SaraLev said...

For our honeymoon a few years ago my husband and I took a month off and went to Amsterdam, Brugge, Paris, Avignon, the Cote D'Azur, Monaco, Chamonix, and London. It was the most romanic, lovely vacation I've ever taken (probably because it was a honeymoon). Of those, and the places I've been, I'd recommend Amsterdam and Paris. And if you are going alone - there's a lot to entertain yourself with. I'm very envious. I think I may have two weeks off this summer which will be spent doing home renovation - definitely not as interesting as travelling.

Anonymous said...

I've been fortunate enough to visit many of the places mentioned in previous comments. I have revisited Spain a few times. It has all of the beauty of old Europe and a very diverse terrain. Barcelona is similar to Paris. Sevilla is magical. Great art museums and despite what some might say, great food. What I love most is the evening paseo - everyone walking around after they get off work, soaking in the last evening light. Portugal is very close and the Algarve coast has the most amazing beaches - Spain's Costa del Sol is very Eurotrashy in the summer. You can catch ferries to Mallorca where you will find the best gin ever! Morocco is close but I wouldn't recommend going alone. Also, there's Gibraltar where you can witness monkeys smoking cigarttes.

wide open spaces said...

I lived in Morocco for a year and a half and it was AMAZING. beach - check. tan - check. trip of a lifetime - check.

Anonymous said...

The choice depends entirely on your budget. Larger budget = Greece and Turkey. More modest budget = CA and AZ. Though depending on your lodging options, you could easily spend a bundle on either trip.

I've done both extensively. Both are wonderful, and obviously, apples and oranges.

Very important: A month is not that long if you want to take your time and play it by ear (no itinerary). Both options are great for that kind of trip. Don't try to do too much. If you do Greece, just do Greece and venture into Turkey for few days. (You could easily spend a month in the Cycladic islands alone). If you do California, just do CA and AZ. Texas is too much.

Specific recommendations:

Greece:
Fly into Athens, spend a few days there, then island hop via ferry and/or hydrofoil. Start with the Cycladic islands. The ferry is cheap, slow and fascinating. The hydrofoil is fast, impersonal and more expensive. Take the ferry at least once (and buy some almond nougat candy if anyone is selling it). You can also do short flights between some islands.

I would say avoid Mykonos but it is the only way to get to Delos, which is a MUST (day trip only -- no lodging or living there). Santorini is touristy and expensive but you should see it. We loved Paros and I recommend the Hotel Dina there (great location, historic architecture, our room overlooked an old chapel). Avoid high priced hotels -- you don't have to pay a lot for decent digs. My friends love Corfu and stayed at an old monastery there for very little.

If you like an island, stay longer. Lounge. Explore. Enjoy. If you're less interested in a place, move on. When traveling by boat, you can buy tix an hour before you go. Sea travel in Greece is stunningly efficient and fun. Pack light as you'll be hauling your own luggage if you move a lot.

California / Arizona:
Again, so many possibilities. Stay on the 1/101. Take the 5 only when you need to get home in 2 days! Humboldt County: Stay and EAT at Carter House in Eureka. Big Sur: Deetjen's or splurge at Ventana or Post Ranch (still closed from the fires?). Go to Nepenthe for a glass of wine, views and jewelry shopping). We love the Horizon Inn at Carmel; it is comfortable and affordable and they deliver breakfast to your room in the AM. Carmel hotels tend to look cute on the outside then are overpriced and rather hellishly Laura Ashley inside. Or stay at one of the many B&Bs in Pacific Grove. Cut inland and go to San Juan Bautista (the best CA mission). There is an excellent Mexican/Salvadoran restaurant around the corner from the mission.

Ojai is heavenly (Ojai Valley Inn & Spa). Wine tasting in the Santa Ynez Valley north of Santa Barbara (forget Napa... unless you want to drop a wad at the French Laundry). And you MUST go the Cold Spring Tavern if you are in the Santa Barbara area. Avoid Solvang like the plague.

This will turn into a book if I start listing restaurants and hotels and things to do... so I'll make the rest brief.

En route to AZ, spend a night or two in the Palm Springs area (very hot but very cheap in summer). You could do the Ritz-Carlton in Rancho Mirage as it is off season and relatively inexpensive. Other good hotels in the area: Desert Hills Inn = affordable mid century & good location; La Quinta Inn = history & luxury; Korakia Pensione = moroccan funk; Villa Royale = eclectic history; Movie Colony Inn... and on and on. (Please... not the Parker or Viceroy.) The Palm Springs area is not known for its food, but eat well at Europa ($$$) or Blue Coyote ($). The best antique store is an "alley" of shops just 2 doors down from Blue Coyote on Palm Canyon Drive. Or go to Two Bunch Palms in Palm Desert for a FABULOUS spa stay. This was originally Al Capone's property and it is just heaven. No pretense whatsoever, just wonderful.

In AZ, I recommend the Southern and Northern areas (avoid the middle, though Flagstaff is cute). Go to Tucson and the Saguaro Natl Monument and environs. Bisbee. Avoid Sedona's pink jeeps and crystal people. Check out Jerome (an old mining town in the mts). You must go to Monument Valley and Canyon de Chelly. And then hit Grand Canyon on your way back.

Either of these trips would be wonderful. I'm envious!

tracey said...

Actually as CNN puts it (and travellers always watch CNN) 'economy in crises' so my advice - fly business!

hello gorgeous said...

Is this for your honeymoon? Aren't you getting married in August?

You're the most covert bride-to-be I've ever heard of.

Tell us everything!! :-)

Kate and Chloe said...

I did a month alone in southeast Asia and highly recommend it. If I had to do it over again, I would concentrate on Cambodia (my favorite), Vietnam, and Thailand. You can't beat the cost, I never once felt unsafe, and the people you'll meet will change your life.

Gretchen FFreshink said...

I took a 3 month leave of absence from a job after 5 years and rented an apartment in Venice. It was the best time of my llife. Shopping in the market, day trips to other towns and sites, getting to know the local late night television (soft porn or soccer). Re-entry to Chicago was difficult - give yourself a few decompression days at the back end so you can moan about "how we do things in (Italy, Greece, Sedona, etc.)" and get your bearings in real life.

{MaisonClassique}, J. Steinber said...

Go to Croatia. It looks a lot like Greece if you stay coastal, and the American dollar goes really far there. Its becoming a new hot spot. Have SO much fun, where ever you go!

this humble abode said...

I spent a year living in Italy, and it was the most memorable of my life. I highly suggest Le Cinque Terre along the Mediterranean coast. Five little villages mostly within hiking distance of each other. Walk through lemon groves, stop for focaccia and spend the evening drinking local wines as the sun sets. I also loved Ravenna, a town south of Venice. You can rent a bike and go to the famous mosaics. The Umbrian hills are incredible. I spent a week there in the summer and saw a rainbow every single day. Avoid any and all tourist cities!

I am from California, and have taken car trips to every part of the state. Big Sur is glorious, my hometown of Nevada City is darling, and my current home in San Francisco is the best place to eat outside of Italy. If you come here, I will send you a list of restaurants.

Cristina said...

The tickets to New Zealand are DIRT CHEAP right now. So hard to pass up! And the american dollar is up down there too.

Sue said...

I definitely recommend... everything! See it all! Although I am biased to going somewhere new that no one has suggested to me, because I am stubborn like that.

I'd roadtrip across the country for the first week or week and a half, and then get on a plane, and spend the rest of your time out of the country, or vice versa. Whatever you decide, stringing everything together and experiencing it unfold is the best part, what an amazing feeling!

salley said...

a month off sounds so good!
like others i've been fortunate to take a few long trips, and have more plans.
my favorites: buenos aires, then up to rio then ilha grande brazil (best beach i've ever been to, and i've been to a lot). city and beach mixed together, and cheap. i did that in 3 weeks, with a month you could experience more of those countries.
barcelona and then a ferry to the quiet side of majorca. again, city and beach combo. meant to stay 4 days, left after 2 weeks.
europe is kinda bonkers in summertime though, so i usually avoid it, although croatia is supposed to be awesome- good idea. i could also spend a month in amsterdam.

thailand/laos/cambodia/vietnam is my most recent dream trip. i'm saving that one for a honeymoon.

north ameria road trips: i've always wanted to drive across canada. the south is balls hot in summer, so dont come here unless you are going to the beach. in the summer i like to go north- montreal, or portland, or to the rockies.

i'd also love to go to india. i'd pick somewhere where a month would make a really long plane trip worth your while, and where its cheap to stay once you get there, and where you can have city and beach in close proximity.

Leonore said...

Rovinj, Croatia

Georgous georgous georgous, plus truffles, good local wine, fresh sea food!

We have a 4 star flat there (the building was built in 1649) and we'll let you stay there for a week at 40 % off if you talk about it on your blog. We just bought the place a year ago and are trying to get the word out.

You can fly into Venice & take a hydrofoil boat over landing a few blocks from our flat. Rovinj was once run by Venice and so it has that same feel. Except they are not on the euro yet so it's like everything is on sale. Plus it's an art community. Amazing art dealers at every corner.

Good luck!

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