Wanderlust – Our 2019 Cities List

Wanderlust. It’s a lifelong malady, with many manifestations and no known cure. It strikes at 2am when we jolt awake – flipping open our laptop to Norwegian Air’s homepage, to check out this week’s sales – and at 11pm when we slink out of the dinner party to read about entertaining in Sicily. We were diagnosed at an early age, and at this point, we’re leaning in.

Travel is our constant itch – we have notebooks of top 10 lists, running docs of hotels, restaurants and coastal harbors we just have to visit, and binders overflowing with magazine clippings. Sure, our bank account isn’t overflowing per se, but like can’t we afford a few days in Naples? There’s fiscal responsibility and then there’s just footloose and fancy free. This is – of course – coming from a writer who just booked Thursday to Monday in Florence for August – and who spent the morning on hold to expedite her passport. Whoops!

While we can’t indulge everrrrrry yearning, we wanted to share our current cities list — the places which are calling to us because of some combination of beauty, insane food and wine, art, culture, or eccentric details.

Which ones are you hitting up in 2019?

Azores, Portugal. We went to Lisbon and Porto in May of 2018 and fell in love with this country — from ancient castles to experimental cocktails to vineyard views. Azores is a four hour flight from the US and offers its own mysteries, from volcanic craters which have morphed into lakes to luxurious hot springs. It’s also known for its profusion of blue hydrangeas. What more could you need? Azores has become a haven for experimental fusion cuisine: “Ponta Delgada include locavore Casa do Abel, the Japanese-influenced Otaka, and Tasquinha Vieira, which specializes in local, organic cuisine, while new hotels include the Lava Homes on Pico Island, and the Grand Hotel Açores Atlântico, opening in July.” (NYTimes). It’s also home to blood sausage, specially brewed tea (cha verde) and flor de acafroa (“bastard saffron” or Spanish Saffron). *Photo credit: intrepidtravel.com

Batumi, Georgia. Tbilisi is the capital of Georgia and is often hyped — but have you heard of Batumi? It’s a sleepy coastal town that’s known for its iconic Georgian hospitality, food, wine, and views. Check out the extraordinary Batumi Botanical Garden, try a Chacha cocktail (the sippable version of grappa) at Chacha Time before a snack of Ajarian Khachapur (a local delicacy — flatbread filled with cheese, egg, and butter) and a world class Ayurvedic massage. *Photo credit: jetsetter.com

Golfo Paradiso, Italy. Golfo Paradiso is nestled near some of the world’s biggest tourist destinations (Cinque Terre and Portofino) but has a majesty all its own. With the brightly colored palazzos and seaside views of its sister towns, Golfo Paradiso is home to some of the briniest and freshest seafood in all of Italy: taglieri neri, spaghetti ai tottanetti, daily braised fish, roasted with basil from the nearby Ligurian hills, and focaccia San Fruttuoso-style (anchovies, fresh tomato, and olive). Follow up your siesta with a hike through centuries old monasteries, or with a ferry ride up and down the coastal blues. *Photo credit: italyfoodandwinetours.com

Dakar, Africa. Dakar is emerging as a must-see city, for its coastal beauty (hi surf lessons), food and fashion scene. Fashion Week in Dakar is a cultural highpoint — and it has entered the world’s stage as the place for emerging designers. With talent from Mali, Nigeria and South Africa, Dakar has established itself as a powerful trend forecaster for ‘what’s next’ in fashion, with an emphasis on beautiful and storied African fabrics and textiles. Check out this photo essay from The Guardian. Dakar also presents an unbelievable fusion of cultures and ethnicities with its eats — ranging from French, South American and Argentinian, to Mediterranean and Asian. *Photo credit: forbes.com

San Cristobal de las Casas, Mexico. San Cristobal appeals to our literary imagination with its colonial architecture and convents, dusty roads and specialized textiles and handicrafts. This is a trip to let loose and embrace some wild beauty — like a boat trip down the Sumidero Canyon or a horseback ride through the mountains of Chamula. And if you’re really feeling the nature lover vibes? Visit the Sima de las Cotorros (sinkhole of the parakeets!) which has murals from thousands of years ago and is inhabited by thousands of its signature green parakeets. And of course! Drink the world’s most delicious locally harvested, grown and roasted coffee. “One more reason to visit? Hotel Sombra del Agua, a stylish new property set inside a 1907 hotel (the first in all of Chiapas) and perfectly located just steps from the vibrant main square. The 70 minimalist, neutral-hued rooms were outfitted by buzzy Mexico City-based design firm La Metropolitana, and there’s a peaceful, plant-filled courtyard for sipping your morning coffee before meandering the city’s cobblestoned streets.” (NYTimes). Let the horseback riding begin. *Photo credit: meetyouatthebridge.nl

Vevey, Switzerland. Curious about the world’s biggest (and most infrequent) wine festival? Us too. Enter the Fete de Vignerons — one of the world’s most storied wine festivals (so important it’s not just for boozehounds but is also a legit UNESCO event), which only happens every 20 years. With curated performances directed by Cirque du Soleil’s artistic director, cellar tastings, local artisans and delicious food — is there any reason to not go to Switzerland? *Photo credit: theladders.com

DC, Washington. We just finished reading “Notes from a Young Black Chef” and have DC on the brain. We’ve been before but are itching to return to check out chef Kwame Onwauchi’s buzzy restaurant “Kith and Kin”, hit up the African Museum at the Smithsonian, and feel that good good east coast summer heat. *Photo credit: Penguin Random House

Saigon, Vietnam. Ocean Vuong is one of our favorite (newly discovered) writers, and he’s put Saigon into our brains. We want to trek there for the unbelievable people watching and photo opps, street food, and architectural gems. *Photo credit: beyondwords.life

Mumbai, India. Khotachiwadi is a beautiful example of what Mumbai was, back in the days when there were first generation East Indian and Portuguese families there — and we’re dying to check it out. We’re always inspired by Indian cuisine, but would also approach this as an art and design lover’s adventure. *Photo credit: pinterest.com