I missed the boat, so to speak, to do a travel-related post on 09-09-09, 10-10-10 and 11-11-11 … so I thought it would be fun to do one on 12-12-12, and hey, lo and behold, that’s today! Moreover, it’s my last chance this century to do something similar so here we go!

12 countries I would recommend in a flash

City of Arts & Sciences, Valencia

I’m often asked which countries I would recommend for a holiday. It’s always a tough question to answer but if I had the option to list 12 (like I do now), these would be the countries I’d recommend (in no particular order):

  1. Spain – amazing food, medieval towns, vibrant cities, beaches, festivals and more. Who can resist Spain?
  2. Italy – if there’s one place that makes me smile every time I arrive, it’s Italy!
  3. Netherlands – there’s much more to the Netherlands than tulips, windmills and Amsterdam.
  4. USA – from the buzz of New York to swinging New Orleans, and the glistening peaks of the Rockies to the pristine beaches of the Keys there’s something for everyone in the US of A!
  5. Canada – I’m always amazed by the breadth and depth of attractions in this vast country.
  6. cape-town-waterfront-table-mountain-photo
    The V&A Waterfront in Cape Town in the early morning

    South Africa – breathtaking scenery, wildlife, fabulous cuisine and wines go hand in hand in my favourite African country.

  7. Chile – the Atacama desert left me breathless (quite literally!), as did the Lake District and the desolate wonders of Patagonia.
  8. Brazil – I haven’t seen a lot of Brazil but Rio, Salvador and the Iguassu Falls just blew me away!
  9. Australia – I had some of my earliest travel adventures here, like hitch-hiking at age 14. Australia rocks!
  10. Thailand – a terrific combination of culture, food, beaches and some of the most hospitable people in Asia.
  11. Malaysia – home to one of the most varied cuisines in the world, buzzing cities, paradise islands and unique flora and fauna.
  12. Turkey – I love Istanbul but Turkey has a lot more to offer, from stunning beaches to monuments from Biblical times.

12 cities I could see myself living in

My beloved Amsterdam

I’m perfectly happy where I am but whenever I travel, I always ask myself this question: can I see myself living here? Here are 12 cities where the answer was a resounding YES!

  1. Amsterdam – the answer was YES the second I first arrived in 1990. And I’m still here!
  2. Sydney – it’s the beach lifestyle!
  3. Vancouver – ocean, mountains and fresh seafood!
  4. Buenos Aires – that unique buzz is infectious.
  5. Melbourne – the laidback attitude does it for me!
  6. Berlin – it’s all happening in Berlin these days!
  7. Toronto – big city feel with a unique flair.
  8. San Francisco – another ocean-side North American city I love!
  9. Kuala Lumpur – shhhhh, don’t tell my Mum!
  10. Hong Kong – vibrant, cutting-edge yet unmistakably Asian.
  11. Cape Town – the scenery always blows me away!
  12. London – I’ll never get enough of London.

12 countries I’d love to visit

The amazing Avenue of Baobabs in Madagascar (image courtesy of Wild Junket)

My bucket list keeps growing but these 12 are right up there!

  1. Antarctica (ok, not a country but you get the picture!) – so I can say I’ve been to all the world’s continents.
  2. Madagascar – beaches and baobabs. Who can resist?
  3. Mozambique – historic colonial towns and beaches. Yes, please!
  4. Peru – Macchu Piccu, the Nazca lines and the upper reaches of the Amazon. Sounds like a great adventure.
  5. Ecuador – from the Galapagos islands to the Cotopaxi volcano, I’d love to see it all.
  6. Surinam – I’ve heard so many great things about this off-the-beaten-path destination. It’s time I went!
  7. Fiji – more beaches and coral reefs. Yay!
  8. Uzbekistan – has been on my bucket list since I was a child. The Islamic architecture in cities like Samarkand must be pretty phenomenal.
  9. Maldives – there’s a certain resort there I’m dying to visit!
  10. Bhutan – verdant valleys dotted with rustic villages to massive snow-capped mountains, and a country that adheres to Gross National Happiness as a measure of growth!
  11. Croatia – the Dalmatian coast, Dubrovnik and the Plitvice Lakes are just some of the attractions I’d love to visit.
  12. North Korea – probably the most intriguing destination in the world. I’m very intrigued!

12 unforgettable travel experiences

Floating in the Dead Sea, with my mud mask on 🙂

Travel is all about the experiences. Here are 12 experiences I won’t easily forget:

  1. floating in the Dead Sea at sunset
  2. driving through the Cape Floral Kingdom
  3. witnessing a marriage proposal in Petra
  4. seeing the midnight sun from the air
  5. floating in a frozen lake in Lapland
  6. seeing the northern lights
  7. visiting Bora Bora
  8. cruise through the Inside Passage, Alaska
  9. meal at El Celler de Can Roca
  10. having hippos as my ‘alarm clock’ on the Zambezi River
  11. sunsets in Bali
  12. lighting a wish lantern in Thailand

12 foods I’ll never say no too!

The heavenly cannelloni with black truffels at Cal Sastre

I love trying local food wherever I go. There are some things I’ll never try again but I’ll always say YES to these 12:

  1. carpaccio – beef, tuna, salmon, shrimp or crocodile. Love ’em all!
  2. jamon Iberico
  3. any pasta with truffels or porcini mushrooms
  4. curry laksa – a Malaysian classic
  5. fried kuey teow – another Malaysian classic!
  6. sashimi – tuna or salmon, both will do!
  7. yakiniku – Japanese BBQ to die for, especially if it includes some Kobe beef!
  8. jambalaya – oh New Orleans, how I miss you!
  9. cerviche – more raw fish, this time with a Peruvian twist!
  10. fried kai lan with oyster sauce, garlic and Chinese black musrooms – my favourite veggie dish!
  11. seared scallops – love the texture and flavour of fresh scallops
  12. a simple rocket/rucola/aragula salad with tomatoes, olive oil, herbs, pine nuts and peppers

Hungry? 😉

Have a fantastic 12-12-12!

6 Responses

  • Love the article and lists, as a compilation it gives me every reason to plan future vacations. Thanks for sharing!

  • Hey Tom,
    Thanks for the Guyana tip. 🙂 Excellent point about North Korea. I’m still intrigued though – it’s Nellie’s fault! She went there earlier this year and told me all about the experience, and it’s been on my mind ever since.

    Thanks for your comment! Happy 12-12-12! 🙂


  • Gotta say no to North Korea…giving money to a brutal regime that routinely starves its own people…nuh uh! I wouldn’t spend a penny there.

    On the flip side, I would LOVE to go to Madagascar and Uzbekistan, and I’ll be heading to Mozambique next year! I’ve heard great things about Guyana too, so if you make it to Suriname, then maybe add it on to your itinerary!

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