Forget that there's a deep, dark recession going on.
Forget that real wages have been stagnant, like, forever.
Forget that hopping on a jumbo jet for Exotica is one of the worst things you can do to and for the environment.
Sunday's NY Times gave us the Top 31 places to go in 2010.
And the good news - given that there's a deep, dark winter going on - is that most of them are warm and sunny.
So, if you've got a travel jones - and who doesn't - and the scratch to hit the road that's mostly less traveled - you're probably at least moderately interested in where The Times is telling us to go.
First up, Sri Lanka.
Personally, given that my husband has been spending a good deal of time over the past year helping a Sri Lankan refugee gain asylum, it's hard for me to believe that all is sweetness and light there. Still, it's a place that:
...feels like one big tropical zoo: elephants roam freely, water buffaloes idle in paddy fields and monkeys swing from trees.
That tropical part sounds pretty good just about now - especially given that it was 15 degrees out when I left the house yesterday - and I'm somewhat down with the idea of elephants roaming freely - elephant dropping aside, and monkeys swinging through trees. Alright!
But there's also this:
...Among the most scenic, if difficult stretches to reach, is Nilaveli Beach in the Tamil north. While a few military checkpoints remain, vacationers can lounge on poolside hammocks under palm trees or snorkel in its crystal-clear waters
Military checkpoints? No, thanks. (Yes, officer, it is indeed my snorkeling gear and not an RPG launcher.)
Next on the agenda, Patagonia Wine Country. I'd love to go to Argentina, where I've never been. But those Patagonia wines all seem to be reds, and I - oeno-naif that I am - drink whites.
Seoul makes the list, having apparently supplanted Tokyo as the destination for "design aficionados", who flock to the "immaculate art galleries" - and when was the last time you were in a filthy art gallery? - and to see "the widely noted Ann Demeulemeester store — an avant-garde Chia Pet covered in vegetation." That I would love to see - especially if it's the Paddy O'Hair St. Patrick's Day Chia Pet.
(My brother Tom, who for years has been raving about Inchon Airport, will be happy to see that Seoul's on the list - if only because he's been there and no one else in the fam has.)
There's a place in India where Ashtanga yogis - who practice "a rigorous sweat-producing, breath-synchronized regimen of poses" - will flock to, and that's Mysore in India. (Marketing recommendation to Mysore, India: if you truly want to make it as a destination for English-sprechting travelers, lose that Mysore. If Bombay can rebrand as Mumbai without skipping a beat - even though everyone in the world had heard of Bombay already - then, surely, Mysore has time to come up with something more attractive. Mypose, Myquest, even Mysweat.)
Wonderful, wonderful Copenhagen is on the list - and, of course, I completely date myself by remembering this song (that would be "Wonderful, Wonderful Copenhagen) being played incessantly on the radio when I was a babe in arms. And it's the first place on the list that I've actually been to. (Phew, I was beginning to feel like a pathetic little stay-at-home.) The Times characterizes Copenhagen as "one of the world’s greenest — and maybe coolest — cities.
I definitely remember the "coolest" part, but I'm afraid we didn't have any concept of "greenest" in the mid 1970's when I was there. Now the "greenest" would appeal more than the city's edgy pubs and cafes, where "a heady mix of hipsters, students, and immigrants mingle."
The next grouping of 2010 destinations starts with Koh Kood, and the question is asked: "Is this the next Koh Samui?" I am such a provincial dud that I've never even heard of Koh Samui, one of Thailand's Trat Islands, which will soon be home to "a designer eco-resort with 14 pool villas." What fuel wouldn't I burn to get to a designer eco-resort - especially if I could have myself my own personal pool villa. Let the eco-resorting begin!
Damascus ("the next Marrakesh?"), and Cesme ("the next Bodrum?") are both on the list, as is Antarctica. No big urgency on Marrakesh and Cesme. Let's face it. This time next year, we'll be asking whether Aleppo is the next Cesme. But if you want to se Antarctica, you'd better act now, as it could well be the next meltdown. Travel restrictions designed to protect this "fragile continent" from the "major environmental threat" posed by tourism may be put in place. (If you do go, please don't piss out the window or splash water from your luxury ship's heated outdoor pool on those glaciers. They're disappearing rapidly enough without any assist from you, thank you.)
Lots of other places on the list: Leipzig, LA (yes, that LA; I heard it's the next Cesme, by the way), Las Vegas, Shanghai, Norway, Costa Rica, Mumbai, Minorca (Mallorca's so yesterday). Nepal is promoting gay tourism, which I find pretty interesting.
Even Marrakesh (same old, same old) gets the nod. It may not be quite as hip as Damascus but, it does have:
La Mamounia, a famed playground for celebrities like Mick Jagger and Charlie Chaplin, reopened in November after a $176 million face-lift...At its dazzling launch party, Jennifer Aniston, Orlando Bloom and Gwyneth Paltrow walked the red carpet...
But not, I'm afraid, Charlie Chaplin.
...and "Cirque du Soleil acrobats wrapped in Christmas lights scaled the hotel walls.
Marakeshian's have all the fun!
And they'll be having even more fun, once Harem - "a wellness retreat just for women" - opens this month. (Wonder whether that "wellness" includes any true "haremness." Ugh if it does.)
Anyway, nothing better than reading about "far away places with strange sounding names." (Mysore.) Especially when it's cold and dreary where you are.
I'm not going any place all that exotic any time soon.
Sarasota for a quick girl-cousins getaway in February. (Better be warmer than it's been down there; the whether's been making it sound like the next Newark.)
And then there's Paris in the springtime.
Hey, no looking down your nose at Paris, by the way. I heard it's the next Worcester.
A tip of the passport to my husband, who pointed this article out to me. Jim's originally from Bellows Falls, VT. I'm not quite sure what BF is the next of.