Places I'd Like To Visit (in no particular order):
The city itself is a bit too day-glo for my tastes, but man, it seems like they have more places to eat per square foot than any other place I've seen - and it all looks yummay! Man, I'd definitely learn to use chopsticks for a trip like that. I realize the purpose of those travel shows is to only show the positive stuff, I get it. But it's not just the amazing food spread that seems appealing. The suburbs look beautiful, the people seem to enjoy baseball like it's a religion, and the vibe seems fun and relaxed. I'd probably not want to live there, but I'd sure like to visit.
Osaka Castle, eh!
Of course, there are other cities in Japan I'd like to visit, but just saying "I want to visit Japan" is kind of lazy writing...
That having been said...
So, what to do when you want to travel but not just be another nameless, faceless, annoyingly ever-present tourist? I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but I'd like to go to Berlin and see the Reichstag, the Brandenberg Gate, the Holocaust Memorial, the Tiergarten... all the touristy stuff. And anything related to World War 2, really. I'm not sure I'll ever understand my boundless fascination with World War 2. There's just something about it that runs so deeply in me, it almost defies explanation. And to go, as it were, to the heart of the Axis machine... I don't know. It would do something for me. I really couldn't care less about the famed Berlin nightlife. I don't care for clubbing at all, period. It might be fun to go during Oktoberfest and have some bratwurst and a giant stein of beer and drink in the atmosphere (as it were), but really, this trip would be more about history than food.
"Hey, is the war over yet?" "Nein!"
Again, plenty of other cities in Germany I'd like to visit, but I'm trying to narrow the discussion a bit... I'd like to learn German before going, though. Don't know why, really; it's not like I feel a need to learn Japanese to go to Osaka.
While I'm on my WW2 Axis theme...
Grand Canal, eh!
Granted, I can't help but want to go to Rome as well, but there's something about Venice that I've always found fascinating. Mostly, the history of how it was founded (and why), and how they built it. Yeah, and it's sinking, I know. I'd like to see it before it's gone, like Atlantis. Yeah, I know they have great food if you know where to look. Yeah, I know it's supposed to be romantic... too bad I'm not romantic, eh! I can't imagine going there with Wifey. She'd probably just want to buy shoes. I think to me, the strongest appeal to Venice isn't even the canals. It's the art and the peacefulness. Perhaps it's able to be so peaceful and laid back because of the canals (as opposed to little European cars and scads of bicycles tooling around). Plus, every building is so friggin old, and has so much history attached to it. Dang, all kinds of scandals and political nonsense went on there, around every corner.
Anyway, yeah, Rome certainly has its appeal for me, and I'd like to waste an afternoon wandering around Pompeii, but I think if I could chose one place in Italy to visit, I'd pick Venice. And I'd bring a sketch pad.
Of course, this is by no means a complete list. The places I'd love to visit are too numerous to list here. All kinds of places around the Mediterranean and western Europe. I suppose I could risk offending random readers by making a similar list of Places I Would NOT Want To Visit (for various reasons), but that's probably in bad taste. Let's just say I'm not exactly the biggest fan of the Middle East, Russia or South America... and there are plenty of cities in the US I'd rather not stop in as well!
In fact, even in these places that I'd love to visit, I realize that it's not all sunshine and roses. There's always a dark underbelly, wherever you are. Even here in sunny San Diego (a place, I'm sure, on many people's lists of places they want to visit) there are places I prefer to avoid whenever possible. I get it - people are people, and if you've seen one tourist trap/ruins, you've seen them all. Still, I think there's something to be said for getting out and seeing a bit of the world around you. With the advent of the internet and cable TV, I can visit the world through someone else, but it's not the same.
Part of me would love to visit Egypt and see the statues and temples and pyramids... but another part of me would be simultaneously scared and embarrassed. Plus, I know I'm a Christian, but honestly, I'm a little ashamed to admit it, but I really have no desire to visit Israel, thank you very much. I know, walk where Jesus walked, and all that. Really, it has no pull for me. And as cool as Machu Picchu is to look at online, I'll pass on visiting in person, thanks. I'll stick to Discovery Channel shows, thanks.
Well, I was also going to segue into other stuff tonight, but I think it would make more sense to close it here, and then open it up for comments. So, where would you like to travel to, eh?