Posts Tagged top N

#1: Kyoto, Japan

Japan – the perfect combination of distant, exotic and modern. It wasn’t until I started working at Wizards that I got an opportunity to visit, as part of doing event coverage for one of our big events (a Pro Tour) there. We stayed in Kyoto, which is kind of like “old” Japan in terms of history and general feel.

I had an amazing introduction to sake – our staff dinner was at a sake bottling plant where they gave us unlimited drink chilled in real bamboo shoots. I had an adventure through the suburbs – we tried to walk back from the venue and got lost in suburbs while Japanese schoolchildren pointed at us tall white foreigners and giggled. I had my first real karaoke experience, including the best Welcome to the Jungle performance I’ve ever heard, by a slender japanese woman. I saw an honest-to-goodness temple and castle, and toured through a good chunk of Japanese historical museum. And most importantly, I got to meet a huge number of extremely nice and very intelligent residents, Magic players and not.

I aim to return to Japan at least a few more times in my lifetime, and especially spend some time in the megacity of Tokyo!

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#2: Cozumel, Mexico

On the first Magic Cruise, we traveled to eastern Mexico and the beautiful port of Cozumel. I went on a bike ride with Bill and Jess from the port to a secluded beach area, where we snorkeled and then sat in the sun drinking and relaxing. It was amazing, and one of the big reasons I look forward now to this cruise each year (the other big reason is the people).

The water in Cozumel is the unbelievable shade of blue that I describe and the listener just doesn’t believe. Sure, it’s kind of an expensive tourist trap of an island, but the combination of tropical weather, super fun water adventures, relaxed and friendly people, and “small tourist town” feel is a home run for me.

If you have a chance to visit, especially as part of a leisurely trip like a cruise, do so!

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#3: Maui, Hawaii

For a long time, I gazed longingly at Hawaii on the map and envied my friends who traveled there – despite living in California, literally a hop / skip / jump away, I never had been there! Then I resolved to find a way to travel there, even if it was on my own, but luckily my family agreed to a week vacation there together a few Thanksgivings ago.

We stayed in a condo right on the beach in Maui, and ate delicious fish, sat in the sun, traveled up to the volcano to see the gorgeous heights, and generally enjoyed the laid back atmosphere. One thing that really stuck with me – as we drove our rental car from the airport to the hotel, it was extremely bright and clear, and looking out, I saw the ocean out to the horizon. Since it was so bright, there was a sharp cut at the horizon that made it look like the edge of the world. Just Hawaii and nothing else.

I would love to return and do some hiking adventures, especially on the big island. But Maui will always have a special place in my heart.

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#4: London, England

It’s funny – of the top places I’ve visited, London is the one I have the least specific memories about, but one of the strongest general “I really liked this place” feelings. I’ve been there a few times now, and I always look forward to returning. The city is enormous – it feels like a fusion of Manhattan and Seattle, scaled up a bit.

I love the Underground, the straightforward simplicity of getting from place to place. (Hilariously, this was my first real experience with public transit, so whenever I move somewhere new, I mentally compare it to the Tube and become disappointed.) The people are relatively kind to tourists, and I’m a sucker for an English accent. The city feels very old (and is!) but it also represents the height of technology and progress. Plus, just outside the central hustle and bustle is wonderful countryside/suburbs.

I’d consider living in London if an opportunity presented itself – one of the few places I’d want to live other than the good ol’ USA.

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#5: Las Vegas

This one isn’t too exotic, but it holds a lot of great memories for me and whenever I consider trips to take, Vegas is high on the list (independent of other stuff going on). My first trip to Vegas was in college (where actually, I was kidnapped with my roomie Jeremy and taken there to… have a fun weekend) and I have enjoyed taking trips there and bringing friends ever since.

I don’t actually gamble that much, nor did I drink much when I was traveling to Vegas, so what was it that was so appealing? I love the “oasis in the desert” feel, possibly because I spent my early years growing up in Phoenix. I love the staged elegance/opulence, and especially how many different kinds of “theme parky” places are next to each other. And I do enjoy staying away from home in nice hotels, which Vegas has a surplus of.

There’s also a bunch of fun touristy stuff to do, shows to see, nightlife to take part in. I recommend it, especially if you have friends to spirit away on a fun weekend vacation.

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#6: Sao Paulo, Brazil

My work recently started up a new worldwide tournament series, and part of the rollout was sending observers to see how it was going. My boss needed someone to go to Brazil for a long weekend, and I leapt at the opportunity. (Strangely, no one else in my department did – maybe they don’t love travel as much as me?) It did a take a couple stressful weeks to get my (10-year!) visa approved, but then I was off on a 20 hour airplane/airport adventure!

I have never been down to South America, although it’s been on my list. Due to my short time there, I was only able to see Sao Paulo, but wow, what a city! It felt like an enormous, old European city. The people, especially the Magic playing community in town for the event, were beyond friendly – they were amazing! During part of Sunday, I walked down the central financial district street that had museums, restaurants and a giant rainforest park. More than any other trip I’ve taken in recent memory, this one whet my appetite for seeing more of the country and hanging out more with the people. (Also, every kind of food – including pizza and sushi! – can be found as a rodizio, or as you may more commonly know it, all-you-can-eat buffet a la Brazilian Steakhouse churrascurias.)

It may be on the other side of the world, but it was so nice to visit that Brazil will be on my short list of places to return.

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#7: Lucerne, Switzerland

Svitzerland! I went on a three week tour of Europe with my high school European History class between my Sophomore and Junior years, and we visited a ton of amazing places – Germany, Austria, Italy, France, England and of course, Switzerland. Lucerne was basically right in the middle of our trip.

Lucerne was very peaceful – the kind of tourist destination where it feels quiet and calm and rejuvenating (as opposed to loud and in your face, like many cities do). The people were kind and walking everywhere felt like the correct speed (this is a common feeling I have when wandering in Europe). Our group spent a few days recuperating there, plus a couple treks to ski and to tour the mountainlands. The hotel we stayed in felt grand, like a mansion, with giant rooms that held at least 4 if not 6 of us (my memory on this bit is a little hazy).

It was great to have this de-stressing time, because the first half of this trip was kind of a nightmare for me. Although I enjoyed seeing Germany, Austria and Italy, there was this strange dynamic on this tour – my group which was all-girls-plus-me and another group that joined us, which was all-boys. I tripped into being an outsider on it and being in high school, this felt awful.

Luckily, Lucerne offered a welcome respite and a new beginning – the second half of the trip was much better!

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