With our Indian visas about to expire, we have a very big choice to make…
Where are we going next?
This may sound like an easy decision – we get to choose any place in the world to visit. But that’s just the problem… We can choose any place in the world to visit.
Our list of dream destinations is longer than I'd like to admit. And the more countries we go, the more places we fall in love with. So we have a constant debate whether to return to places we know and love, or choose somewhere new that we haven’t yet explored. Sound familiar?
The last couple months, we’ve spent many nights having conversations at dinner, and discussions over coffee with our laptops in hand, all with the same topic.
Where in the world are we going next?
Friends and family back at home have asked us, and we have no response. Not because we didn’t want to share our plans, but because we truly had no clue! This is one downfall of having no travel plan.
The more research we did, the more confused we became.
So eventually we started asking other travelers about their favorite places. We got all sorts of answers, and our list grew. And grew. And grew.
There was Africa – a continent on which neither of us have stepped foot, and a land we are both so intrigued by and pulled to.
We imagined spotting exotic animals on safaris, watching desert sunsets, and meeting the most interesting people. But then we did our research, and found that Africa is actually quite expensive to travel and our money wouldn’t last long. We’d need to do a ton of planning – and quick – oh, and we’ve gotta get some vaccinations while we were at it.
So Africa got crossed off the list. (For now.)
And then there was Central America. We’ve spent 3 months in South America and some time in Costa Rica, so this felt a bit more comfortable and would require less planning. Our money would go much further than in Africa, and we could work on our Spanish – an everlasting goal of ours. Travel between countries doesn’t take long, and we love Latin American culture. But... summer is rainy season. I’ve admitted before that bad weather affects me. I try not to let it, but it does.
So Central America is off.
And there was Indonesia. We spent 12 days in Bali last August with a group of friends, and it’s one example of a place that keeps calling us back. Friendly people, cute restaurants, gorgeous beaches, a vibrant culture, and more than enough ocean in which to test out our new scuba diving certificates.
Plus, summer has perfect weather. We could spend our days in the sun and surf with fruity drinks in hand. Seems like a great option, right?
But something just didn’t feel right. It felt too easy.
With a little more than 3 months to explore, we decided that we wanted some place entirely new. We have spent the last year and a half in Asia, and while we are undoubtedly in love with this region of the world and still have so much of it to explore, we are ready to move on.
So the last region that kept coming up was Europe. Seven and a half years ago (wow, I am dating myself) Ben and I studied abroad in Florence, Italy, and it was the best time of our lives. We explored enough of Western Europe to know that it is expensive. But the countries to the east aren’t quite so spendy. We never made it further east than Austria, so it’s entirely new to us.
We started researching Eastern Europe, and the more we saw, the more right it felt. There are so many countries we know so little about – Slovenia, Bulgaria, Romania – that look amazing. (Google them now. You’ll see what I’m talking about.) And a couple countries we’ve had on our minds for years – Croatia, Turkey, Hungary – that we’ll finally get to explore.
We still don’t know much about Eastern Europe (suggestions much appreciated!), but we’re getting those wanderlust itchings that make us know we made the right choice. (Though I honestly don’t think any of those choices would have been a bad decision!)
So as we wrap up our time in India, we are getting nostalgic about the last 7 months we’ve spent traveling in Asia. It is a continent that many people misunderstand, and don’t quite get our affection for, so I’ll attempt to explain...
Asia is so incredibly huge and diverse that it’s hard to speak about it as a whole, other than to say it has stolen our hearts more than once. Out of all the places we’ve traveled, we’ve met the friendliest people in Asia (oh, and Colombia!). We’ve eaten the most sought after cuisines in the world from the source itself, and we’ve even learned how to cook some of our favorites.
We trekked amongst the highest mountains in the world and learned how to scuba dive in turquoise waters. And we soaked up the sun on some seriously stunning beaches. For the beach snobs out there, I am convinced that Asia is home to the world’s most beautiful stretches of sand (you could argue, but you’d be wrong!).
We’ve explored vibrant and modern cities where we’ve sipped cocktails on trendy rooftops, and we’ve experienced unrivaled hospitality in rural villages.
We will certainly be back in Asia someday. But for the first time in a while, I can’t say when that will be. And as sad as that is for me to say, it makes me happy too, because that means there is a whole new adventure out there waiting for us.
So we're ready to get this journey started... First stop: Istanbul!