Where in the world best experiences
September 4, 2009 5:53 AM   Subscribe

Where in the world to go/travel/live for the most interesting experiences

I’ m not at this point yet, but within a few years I do think I’ll be at the point where I can travel/go anywhere for at least brief amounts of time (if not months/years for places that are ideal temporary workplaces for me). In anticipation of that, I’d like to expand my list of potential places to visit and see, beyond the list I’ve already created from reading and….simple curiosity.

This previous metafilter question did a great job of looking for the most beautiful and scenic places in the world. Now I am looking for a bit more.

In the past, some of the most interesting places I traveled to were because of the experiences (eg, hiking in the rain forest and seeing/hearing gorillas in central Africa; exploring a small town in Kenya and hearing the chanting from mosques and walking waround town and seeing a place that looked completely different from anything I have seen before [women wore veils, donkeys roamed throughout the town, etc] ).

Anyway, I thought it would be helpful to see what the hive mind could recommend (and I fully realize that this is what you may find interesting and it may not be entirely applicable to me).

What are the most interesting places (and experience in that place) that you would recommend? So if possible don’t just list a place…tell me why that place/and the particular experience that a person should seek out.

Things that I have found interesting include historic ruins (historic castle, whatever…with a story behind it), up close observations/encounters with wildlife, the culture (which can include music, art, plays), etc. Please don’t limit yourself to these types of experiences, though.

There could be other events that are occurring in different countries and places, too. For example, a play festival, music festival, etc. If you have experienced these (or read about it and it seems like a great experience), please feel free to put that here…or if you have seen a blog, book, etc that lists all these things, drop that there, too. If possible, excluding the US for now…I have a USA-based travel question that I’ll ask in a week or two.

posted by Wolfster to Travel & Transportation (10 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Interesting? My idea of interesting is going to communist or former communist countries. I got hooked after visiting the former DDR in 1991. I've been extensively in Cuba and met Castro. I've been to Moscow and enjoy all the sites of the former USSR. Also interesting was visiting Chiapas after the revolt was put down.
posted by JJ86 at 6:05 AM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: Depending on your perception of the meaning of the word `interesting', and taking advantage of the fact this year marks the 70th anniversary of outbreak of the Second World War, I'd recommend going to see Auschwitz concentration camp, Poland.

It is almost guaranteed this visit will change quite a few things in your life.
posted by noztran at 6:12 AM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: Disclaimer: I've written for the site I'm about to mention. But I'm one of hundreds who's done so, so hey.

The site Trazzler.com is a growing collection of these specific kinds of discrete "experiences"; you won't just find an article about "Madrid" or "Restaurants", each individual (VERY brief) article is about a specific experience; a restaurant, a castle, a festival. You may want to poke about in there and see what strikes your fancy.

It's very new, and is almost totally freelance-driven, so you may find some unusual gaps here and there (I wrote their entry on Katz's deli primarily because they didn't have one, and I thought that was an injustice); but this also means the angle is more towards the unusual and the undiscovered.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:33 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: For intense, noisy, claustrophobic, and explosive (firecrackers everywhere, including practically in your face): La Patum, Berga, Spain. When I was there I appeared to be one of only a handful of non-Catalan people.
posted by PatoPata at 6:46 AM on September 4, 2009

Iquitos, Peru. Mototaxis, tecno-cumbia, rivers, canoes, crazy fruits, dancing, jungle, happiness.
posted by cachondeo45 at 7:49 AM on September 4, 2009

Best answer: Disclaimer - as is always the case, many of my most interesting places are because of the people I met there, or traveled there with. Regardless:

Manali-Leh Highway: This is the road that takes you to Leh, the capital of Ladakh, a former kingdom in the Indian Himalayas. Leh is interesting enough on its own (go to one of the festivals), but the trip on the Manali-Leh highway, the second-highest motorable road in the world, is stunning and sometimes harrowing.

Going to a wedding, anywhere. If you're ever invited to a wedding, or birthday party, or any family gathering in your travels (and if you're friendly, you will be eventually), go! Such a great way to see directly into the heart of a culture.
posted by lunasol at 8:45 AM on September 4, 2009 [2 favorites]

Best answer: my once-in-a-lifetime, favorite experience is this: tea with a tuareg at twilight in Tombouctou, Mali.

I took 2 days to get there, but I spend Christmas night in the famed town, sitting with a Tuareg man outside his tent. I covered my head with a scarf. We sat on camel skin cushions, which kept us off the dusty sands of the Sahel, and drank the traditional 3 cups of tea (mild like life, sweet like love, and bitter like death). We spoke in French about culture, life, religion, language, love... all by the light of the campfire. His wife was inside the tent taking care of the children, and only made a brief appearance to deliver the tea. The man was a salt trader, going on caravans up into Taoudenni, Northern Mali (virtually the middle of nowhere). His family had been doing this for generations, and he had never been anywhere outside the Tombouctou-Taoudenni route.

this is something I will never, ever forget, and a moment which will be virtually impossible for me to duplicate; I think that makes it even more special.
posted by hasna at 8:49 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

Traveling and collecting peak experiences is one approach. Another approach is to develop a passion for a subject and pursue it. The subject can be broad or narrow as long as it's something that interests you. Go see the best tile mosaics all over the world. Go visit the best architecture. Ride the best train routes. Kayak rivers all over the world. Having interesting experiences is more likely when you are interested.
posted by theora55 at 9:34 AM on September 4, 2009

Response by poster: I wanted to say thank you to everyone for providing their suggestions (feel free to add more, I am sure that this remains open for a while).

I already had my own list (and have traveled before), but I wanted the additional insights from the hive mind. It is interesting to me how many peole here have gone to completely different places, yet have similar experiences. I've seen religious ceremonies/festivals in some small villages in Africa -- and those seemed similar to things that PatoPata and Lunesol describe and I would now like to go to the places they suggest, too.

JJ86- I've traveled while changes are happening (eg, first multiparty election), but not afterwards. Very interesting approach. Noztran, that has entered my mind before (sites of a genocide) - I don't know if I can stomach it yet, but that is a side of humanity, too.

EmpressCalligpyos - great website I may use that to look for more things in NYC right now

Hasna, thanks for describing your experience/phenomenal story -- those brief moments are some of the reasons that I still travel.
posted by Wolfster at 3:10 PM on September 8, 2009

EmpressCalligpyos - great website I may use that to look for more things in NYC right now

If I may be shamelessly self-promotional for a moment -- they're having a contest there now, with a certain 200 entries in the semifinals. The more people add my entry to their wishlists by the end of this week (9/14/09), the better my chances at the grand prize (a writing contract with the site, and 10 grand).

But there's a lot of other stuff on there that has nothing to do with the contest, too...
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:24 AM on September 9, 2009

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