Where to go in 2019: My feasible dream list

Where to go in 2019: My feasible dream list

Halfway into 2018, I contemplated on travel plans for the year. And I wouldn’t be me if I had not thought for some time about where to go in 2019!

This year I am a bit earlier, almost on time, but surprise, surprise, I haven’t booked anything. Nothing. 2018 was the year of moving house and making a home. 2019 we are still very much into the home-making, especially as the weather gets better we have a beautiful wasteland, err, plain canvas of a garden to plant. If all fails, we can just put a few loungers in the garden facing the lake.

Our big thing this year

We have lots of other exciting projects coming up this year! And you don’t have to wait til next Sunday until I tell you.

I am bloody pleased if any one reads this, and I hate reading other blogs and getting cliffhangers, meaning I have to visit again… in 23 hours.

If you follow me on Instagram, you may know we are getting married in spring. With it comes the planing of a wedding, which we have pretty much done by getting married far outside the “wedding season”, asking our favourite restaurant to host the wedding and using local suppliers. Now all I need to do is put pen to paper and carve out some vaguely interesting design out of a block of lino and write some actual invitations because I can’t just invite my friends and family by email. Or can I?

So wedding brings with it… well, yeah, a honeymoon! Now this could be a perfect excuse to go on a blow-out, all-encompassing big trip, but I am not that kind of person. Where to go in 2019 for a honeymoon?

Honeymoon Cluelessness

But where to go to make the honeymoon special but not too honeymoon-ey?

Our first thought was Japan. Easy to get to (relatively), no visa required for EU citizens, super efficient transport, great food, a culture so different to Europe yet fascinating and beautiful. Nice guesthouses for that honeymoon flair.

It is looking more realistic now that we have seen some reasonably priced flights that don’t require changing in Moscow. My soon-to-be-husband is somewhat worried about travelling to the US or Russia. He also did not want me to travel to the Ukraine as he worried about safety, only to regret not coming along.

So, Japan. We could look forward to the Zen Gardens of Kyoto, the lesser visited castles and temples of Shikoku, and, of course, Tokyo, with the added comfort that I know my way around Tokyo a little bit. And that exactly is my problem! You see, I have been to Japan three times. I love it!

Same with Thailand. I have been a few times, pre-blog. Often using it as a jumping board to get to other countries with a couple days tacked on in Bangkok, but I have travelled some lesser visited places like Isan, too.

But would you rather go somewhere for your honeymoon that is completely new to you, somewhere that fills you with excitement for the unknown?

For someone who is bored after three days on the beach, the “classical” honeymoon destinations like Maldives, Seychelles, Mauritius, Bali, Polynesia, Caribbean don’t really attract me.

For a while, I thought hmmm, maybe Mauritius. The island is rather large and offers some diversity. After checking flight prices and seeing too many “romantic” resorts, I thought, hmmm, maybe not.

So, we are in the stage of discussing. By this rate, we’ll be booking last minute! His favourites are: Japan, Spain, Scotland. My favourites are Uzbekistan, Sri Lanka, Somewhere West Africa, and old favourites India and Japan.

I will feel better once we have booked the flights – we will probably stay pretty flexible with the rest of the planning until shortly before the trip.

Senso-ji, Tokyo
Senso-ji temple, Tokyo: One of my first impressions of Japan. That was 2004. I’d go back there in a heartbeat

Sushi restaurant near Tsukiji Fish Market, Tokyo, JApan
One of numerous great sushi restaurants near Tsukiji Fish Market – an early discovery on past trips
cosplay, Tokyo
And of course a trip to the costume players of Tokyo
Kanda Matsuri, Tokyo
And on further trips to Japan, there were more quirky things to explore… like the Kanda Matsuri
Cat cafe Tokyo Japan
Or cat cafes… a concept unknown to Europe back in 2008
Gyoza Stadium Tokyo
… or the Gyoza Stadium. A themed food court dedicated to the dumpling!
display food, Kappabashi-dori, Tokyo
Carrying home some foodie souvenirs without expiry date

Quick quick city trip

And I mean, out on Friday after work, back in Sunday night. Not very environmentally friendly, but not to be done that often. A short trip that necessitates just one or two nights in a  hotel, therefore allowing for more luxurious hotel choices.

Istanbul is a perennial favourite. In under three hours, you can be in Asia. The city is friendly, relatively safe, and full of wonderful architecture and textiles.

For a chance to visit a country I have never been in, I would love to visit Copenhagen. It is just a short hop across the Baltic, yet I have never been there. Another Baltic city like Helsinki or Riga will do nicely, too.

Actually, what I said earlier is not entirely true now. I have just booked  a flight to London. One glorious day in London, stuffed with appointments and hopefully a good lunch and a trip to Maison du Chocolat and Japan Centre. You can’t get pop culture snacks like this in Berlin. It’s ultra-quick, in and out in a  day. It’s rubbish for the environment, but this travel thing is all about balance. I’ve been a vegetarian for 30 years and didn’t light a single firecracker yesterday so my green account is doing okay, thanks.

travel to Thailand
Two years, two trips to Thailand. Sukhothai in 2013 and Bangkok in 2009

An “Auf Wiedersehen Britain” Trip

And while we’re talking about the subject of Britain… Ryanair’s new hand luggage policy is not conductive to carrying large amounts of Cup-a-Soup, Bombay Mix and Japanese pop culture snacks across the channel.

So as a sometime migrant and British-born mixed couple we like Old Blighty.  One of us was mightily pissed off to be unable to vote in the referendum, whereas the other messed up his registration to vote, but we both hoped and prayed the people of Britain would see the light, and we both called Britain home once.  We just don’t like it enough to live there any more.

So with me bemoaning the poor choice of quality Scottish whisky in Duty Free, proto-husband had the great idea to take our car on a ferry and tour Scotland, preferably outside the season when everywhere is fully booked and the weather no more reliable. The weather in March can be pretty unpredictable, but we could turn this into our honeymoon and a glorious Farewell Britain trip before they leave the EU. I just have to check Duty-Free allowances if we decide to bring a booty full of whisky back after 29th March…

Singing Sands Beach, Scotland
One of many “Singing Beaches” in Scotland
Islay Scotland
March on Islay, Scotland. It rained a lot, but traffic was minimal and we even went cycling

Learning Russian again

I was pretty fluent, and it sits there, in the furthest windowless, hidden box room in my brain.

Every time I spoke to native Russians, they talked incredibly fast, so I am thinking I would like to go where Russian is spoken as a second language but still pretty correctly and fluently, like a former Soviet republic. Chances are people are nicer there, and the food is better. Just by subjective attractiveness of country, I would go for Usbekistan, Armenia, Georgia or Ukraine.

I know Russian is widely spoken in Armenia and Georgia, I have visited both countries, and they’re lovely. Ukraine is a country I am deeply interested in, and so far, I have only made it to Odessa. Given recent tensions with Russia, I am never sure how much Russian is actually spoken in Ukraine (to the outside, Ukrainian looks and sounds similar) and whether speaking Russian is propagated in a country with such a hostile relationship between both countries.

Yerevan, Armenia
Learning Russian City Choice No.1: Yerevan
Odessa Opera House Ukraine
Learning Russian City Choice No.2: Odessa, Ukraine. Okay, another town in Ukraine would be just as good

Chisinau Moldova
I liked Chisinau but this is perhaps the place where you get by with Russian, but it is not spoken that widely

The Silk Road is Calling

While sneakily trying to incorporate some Silk Road tripping into the honeymoon, proto-husband pretty quickly put a veto on anything “to strenuous, too studious, or too backpacker-ish” and no passion for Uzbekistan or Western China could be ignited. At some point we had watched three different Silk Road documentaries. The Silk Road appears a perennial travel favourite, and I would love to see a little more than snippets at Venice, Istanbul, and the Caucasus that I have seen so far.

Especially Turkey has some places that are within easy reach, such as Bursa, Edirne and Konya.

I almost went to China last year but didn’t and I still would love to go

I almost signed up for six weeks of acupuncture instruction in Beijing in 2017 but chickened out. As it happened, this was a good decision because being at home allowed me to spend more time with my ailing grandmother who died at the end of 2017. Sitting in China without internet, Facebook or whatever other means to stay in touch with home would have been a nightmare.

Attending Perfume School

The sense of smell is the one work-related thing I am prepared to write here in my blog, and only about good smells, of course!  I love good scent, and have always been fascinated by extracting and mixing scents.

Sadly, most shops, even upmarket ones, carry only a large selection of major cosmetics and fashion-brand scents.  As 99% sell in China, they tend to be tested on animals, too. So I became interested in experimenting making my own scent.  I went to the Neals Yard  Introduction to Natural Perfumery Course. Then I went on an hour-long sniffing spree at Les Senteurs with my friend afterwards, and bought “L’Air du Desert Marocain by Tauer.

This day-long natural perfumery course is a wonderful introduction into top, heart and base perfume notes. It is good value, but of course, a sales call for Neal’s Yard, too. You get a discount at their shop next door on the day, if you want to stock up, and the essential oils show a great longevity.

But I want to know more, I want to learn about fixatives and some synthetic/traditional fragrances. My friend recommended I take my next holiday in Grasse in France, home of the Grasse Institute of Perfumery. Looks like I am too late for 2019 already!  I  also found “La Via del Profumo”, a course in Italy by natural perfumer Abdes Salaam Attar.

And who knows? Everything can be totally different!

Same time last year, I did have some vague ideas but no idea what I would be rediscovering the Eastern Block and travel to Georgia, Armenia, Moldova, the Ukraine and Albania in 2018.

I love planning and anticipation, but having an entire year planned out with no flexibility would frustrate me. It’s nice to read about some new destination and say “Hey, I have some days leave, let’s check it out!” I would love to hear your travel goals for the new year!

So, here is to a good year, filled with many new impressions, trips, reunions, meals and a million of memories!


pin it! Where to go 2019 blog post


Post Scriptum

While writing this post, the “honeymoon dilemma” luxury problem was resolved. We booked a cheap flight to Malaga, which leaves us with Andalucia, Southern Portugal, and even Northern Morocco as good options. Japan ended up on top of our list but paying for a wedding comes with an altogether smaller budget. We decided to spend money on good food and drink, and stuff we will love for a long time, like nice wedding rings etc. So who knows… once we’ve paid all the bills, we might have budget for Japan later in the year?

I also decided I want to complete my state accreditation for acupuncture this year, so late summer will probably see me frolicking in the wild waves of the Baltic… errr… a classroom near the beach. Still, not a bad way to spend a week of course work. Next level: Acupuncture in Russian 🙂

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