These are my top places I want to see:
1. the Congo
politically-speaking, this probably means Republic of Congo. Although I keep having this vision (no idea if this matches with reality) of a wildlife haven in the DRC. Still have no idea how one would make this happen though - last time I checked, travel to this region was fairly impossible. Damn, thinking about this now and looking at the map - Europe really did a number on Africa, didn't they? You look at the political boundaries of these countries that make absolutely zero geographic, ethnic, or linguistic sense.... and you see these completely landlocked countries, some with absurdly skinny, awkward slivers reaching out to touch the ocean. Insane.
I've been dreaming about Mongolia for a while, and have an incredibly romantic notion of what this journey would be like. Some of my favorite memories are from riding bareback across the plains of Inner Mongolia, and this is often how I think about the northern cousin. I have this dream of just riding across the land with all my belongings on my own back, with my own hawk soaring above me as a guide. Insanely beautiful land. I really want to see to what extent it's uninhabited. (I've always remained fascinated to walk in the world's least densely populated places).
3. European Russia
... another place I have carry very romantic ideas about. My knowledge of the country and culture is almost entirely influenced by Tolstoy. I have been dying to see St. Petersburg since I first pictured Kitty Scherbatsky's debut ball. And so, I imagine St. Petersburg as the height of cultured merriment and sophistication, full of suggestive witticisms and half-veiled affairs. Moscow also weighs heavily in my mind: I imagine the city to be home to a depth of political thought and feeling on which one could live and feast for decades.
I'm sure a visit to Russia's two capitals now could hardly transport me back in time to Alexander's Russia, but I still feel there is no place in the world quite like it... Can you imagine? To see a city that had been burnt to the ground. To roll past the country by train and gaze upon Moscow...
OH Lord, people. How very dearly I want to spend some time in Berlin. I've been through Germany a few times now, but have never made it yet to the city I wish to see most. I imagine it as a completely cosmopolitan city, bustling with energy and ideas from all across the world. Everything I've heard about Berlin just makes it sound like the King of cities. Also want to go for the history.
5. New Zealand
Another one that has been on my list for a while now. I'm a huge, huge Lord of the Rings fan. It is my greatest dream to set forth with three of my closest friends, a wise guide, a mysterious ranger of the land, a spritely music-lover of the woods, a mineral enthusiast, and perhaps a foreign nobleman hunter --- to wander the mountains and meadows of the countryside. Who's interested?
... And that's it folks! Damn. I guess we should start planning?
Not on the list:
- Iceland - I really wanted to go to Iceland this year, but it seemed like everyone was going. Not sure what the current tourism situation is there, or how crowded it is. For me, the biggest draw of Iceland would be open, untempered space.
- Any Spanish-speaking countries - I love, love Spanish. I love the language. Unfortunately, I've never been drawn to Central or South America - which would otherwise offer perfect opportunity to explore beautiful places while speaking the language. My trips to these regions have always been more about price and convenience, than interest :/
Oh, darling! Let's be adventurers!