Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Where Should I Go in 2013?

So far since moving to Europe in July 2009, I've been to 34 different countries.  Not a bad run if I do say so myself.  Now the question is what new places do I visit in 2013?  There are just so many places that I want to go to...Ireland, Netherlands, Portugal, Montenegro, Norway, Finland, UkraineHeck, somehow I still haven't even managed to make it to London yet.  Decisions, decisions.  That's where I've decided to let my readers have some input.

Originally, I thought about letting people choose where I would visit.  The only problem with that one is that I would get a whole lot of votes to go back to Atlanta and I was just there.  So instead, I've come up with five different places.  All of these places are ones that I would eventually like to get to.  Some will be easier than others.  I may do more than one of these in 2013.  Who knows?  However, I will for sure go to whichever one receives the most votes.  

Here's a little background on each in order to help you choose where to send me.

Iceland is located in the mid-Atlantic and it is the USA's closest European neighbor.  For someone who isn't the biggest fan of cold weather this one must sound a bit odd.  Glaciers and volcanoes just sound so cool.  While the best weather is in summer time, I would most likely go in March or April so that I can catch the Aurora Borealis.  The biggest drawback to Iceland, aside from the cold, is that it is even for Scandinavia, it is very expensive.

Georgia is a country between Eastern Europe and Western Asia.  Once part of the Soviet Union, it declared independence in 1991.  Georgia is home to the break away republics of Abkhazia and South Ossetia.  Both of the areas have been occupied by Russian soldiers since the 2008 Russo-Georgian War.  I don't plan on going anywhere near the break away republics but how cool would it be to go from Atlanta, Georgia to Tbilisi, Georgia?  

The United Arab Emirates is on the Persian Gulf between Oman and Saudi Arabia.  It is a federation of seven emirates.  I know many people who have gone there and everyone has enjoyed it.  Dubai is home to the Burj Khalifa which is the world's tallest building.  One of reasons for considering the UAE now is because I would really like to visit Israel.  The problem is that if you have an Israeli stamp in your passport then the UAE, and about 20 other nations, won't let you enter the country.  Therefore I have to visit the UAE first.  On the drawback side, the UAE isn't exactly gay friendly.  Homosexuality is illegal and the punishments range from jail time, fines, deportation and the death penalty.

The Baltics consist of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.  At the start of WWI, all three countries gained independence from the Russian Empire.  However, all three were later annexed by the Soviet Union.  In 1991, they declared independence.  The three countries are now liberal democracies and in 2004 they joined the EU and NATO.  If I go to the Baltics then I may try fit in either Kaliningrad, a Russian enclave between Lithuania and Poland, or Belarus.      

The "Stans" are five countries in Central Asia which all used to be Soviet Republics.  Today, they are the independent republics of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan.  Not quite sure which one (or maybe two) countries I would visit.  Uzbekistan has been on my list of places to visit since I was 16 years old.  I remember reading a magazine article about the Soviet Union and it talked about how Uzbekistan was home to camels and pineapples.  It just sounded like such an exotic part of the U.S.S.R.  Kyrgyzstan doesn't require a tourist visa which is a plus.  The other four all charge between $160 to $180 per visa and each visa will require a trip to the appropriate embassy in Prague or Vienna.

You can only vote once per computer.  I should have only allowed people to make a single choice but I didn't.  Oh well, something to remember for the next time.  So feel free to submit your vote on where I should go visit in 2013. The poll will remain open until New Year's Eve.

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