Top 30 places to travel, according to whom?… Where do we recommend when asked?…

Tom’s burger and fries at Donde Bocha Antogeria in Atenas. I ate the little side cup of guacamole.

“Sightings from the Veranda in Costa Rica”

This morning’s visitor, a large centipede. It doesn’t appear to be venomous. Tom scooped it up and put it outdoors in the garden.

After posting our story on September 25th, about the top 20 most dangerous countries in the world to vacation, (click here for our story) we received a few email messages inquiring on the more positive side; what do we consider the top countries in the world to visit?

Such an article was recently posted online by US News & World Report listing the following 30 best places in the world to visit. They used the following to compile this list:  “…U.S. News (click here for their article) used expert opinions, user votes, and current trends to compile this list.” 

Charlie ordered this plate of beef nachos. There was a bottom layer of tortilla chips. I could have had this without the chips and dressing which would have been meat and lettuce which wasn’t very appealing to me.

Their list follows below (those marked in red indicate those we’ve visited and/or lived in these locations during our past almost five years of world travels): 

  1. Rome 
  2. Sydney
  3. Porto (Portugal)
  4. London
  5. Paris
  6. New York City
  7. Florence
  8. Prague
  9. Barcelona
  10. Dubai
  11. Amalfi Coast
  12. Santorini
  13. Oahu, Hawaii
  14. Grand Canyon
  15. Bali
  16. Serengeti National Park
  17. Vancouver
  18. Breckenridge
  19. Phuket
  20. San Sebastian
  21. Tahiti
  22. Yosemite
  23. Costa Rica
  24. The British Virgin Islands
  25. Park City, Utah
  26. Great Barrier Reef
  27. Machu Picchu
  28. Banff
  29. Jackson Hole
  30. St. Lucia

People we meet and our readers often ask our opinions on favorite places to visit in the world based on our travels thus far. We’ve even had an opportunity to speak to some of our readers on Skype when they are contemplating a vacation/holiday and aren’t sure where to go. We would like feedback from us on the topic.

This is a tough question to answer. It’s comparable to asking a person what books they prefer to read, their favorite movies and which foods they prefer to eat. It’s highly subjective. 

Our personal preferences for choosing travel locations and bookings are varied based on affordability, personal interests, and long-held beliefs and desires to see certain parts of the world.

This is the outdoor restaurant, Donde Bocha Antogeria, we visited with neighbor Charlie for lunch.

Also, there’s a vast difference in staying in a hotel or resort for a two-week vacation as opposed to “living” in a country for an extended period. Even if the property is exceptional, living as if we were locals is entirely different from tourists’ attention and amenities at a hotel or resort.

We’re basically “on our own,” fending for ourselves for transportation, meals, and entertainment.  In a resort or hotel, a typically readily available concierge or front desk staff usually takes care of everything, if one so chooses.

Tom liked Imperial beer made in Costa Rica.

During a one or two-week vacation in a country, the traveler’s perspective may be entirely different from what we experience over three months. Their goal is generally to pack in as many tours, shopping and dining experiences as possible. 

Often tourists bring along an extra empty piece of luggage to contain their purchases. We often see this on cruises where many focus their attention on shopping and dining at each port of call.  This surely must be fun for those who find it enhances their experiences.

For us, such an objective is far removed from our reality. Although we may wander through shopping areas in certain ports of call, we rarely make any purchases more for photo ops and sharing the experience with our readers than to purchase anything. 

After lunch, when Charlie took off to shop, we visited the Central Market in downtown Atenas.

As for dining out during ports of call or in countries in which we’re living, it’s a two-pronged consideration; one, frequent dining out is costly and two, most mid-range restaurants can’t accommodate my way of eating. 

People often ask how we can possibly enjoy ourselves without dining and shopping in many countries. Here again, our objectives aren’t the same as most travelers.  

One of our major interests is in shopping for quality food to create healthful and suitable homemade meals at our temporary home utilizing the flavor and availability of locally grown produce and sources of protein. In essence, this has become a hobby for us as we’ve traveled the world. 

Inside the Central Market, there are many casual dining spots.

Although we’ve dined out regularly in many countries s we will upcoming in Buenos Aires where we’ll be living in a hotel for a month and then beginning February in South Africa; we’ll dine out frequently since most of the food is organic and centers around delicious roasted meats and vegetables.

Here in Costa Rica, dining out isn’t a priority when most meals include tremendous amounts of starch. Believe me, if I didn’t have to eat as I do for health, I’d be all over the tortillas and flour/corn-based products.  Tom, a picky eater, doesn’t care much for ethnic foods, tortillas or even guacamole.

Recently as shown in today’s photos, we went to lunch with our neighbor Charlie who lives a few doors from us. We visited a traditional Costa Rica restaurant in Atenas. After carefully perusing the menu, the only items I could eat was the guacamole with nothing to dip into it and the pico de gallo, not necessarily meal worthy. 

Produce is for sale all week in this market as opposed to the Friday Feria Market where we prefer to make our selections.  It appeared many items were imported.

I didn’t order a thing except for a glass of water, especially when the language barrier prevented me from inquiring if their kitchen is technically “gluten-free” meaning separate prep and cooking areas free from any contamination from grains, starches, and sugar. That’s not possible here in Costa Rica unless one is dining at a pricey high-end establishment of which there are none in Atenas.

Surely in San Jose, a 40-minute drive, there are possibilities but it just hasn’t been worth making the long drive to eat an overpriced meal. When we head to Managua, Nicaragua in 28 days, we’ll dine in upscale restaurants and hotels which can usually accommodate my requirements.

Thus, it’s easy to see how our preferences for “where are the best places in the world to travel,” are considerably different from that which the average traveler may find appealing. None the less, it’s fascinating to hear about the preferences of others.

A larger produce seller in the Central Market.

We’re always happy to share our perceptions of top places to visit in the world but encourage those inquiring that our preferences may vary considerably from that which appeals to them.

Most of us prefer a location of beauty, great scenery, good weather and reasonable prices with interesting culture and possibly wildlife. Many have virtually no interest in wildlife which has greatly influenced our choices.

That’s it for today, folks! Have a fabulous weekend wherever you may be!

Photo from one year ago today, September 30, 2016:

Tom spotted this local woman carrying straw on her head moments after we returned to Sumbersari after the five-day visa extension process in Lovina Bali. It felt good to be back “home” for the final leg of our stay in Indonesia. Click here for more details.