Plea for a 40th Birthday Trip

Feb 29th, 2008, 10:06 AM
  #1  
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Plea for a 40th Birthday Trip

Well my dear Fodorites, its time to admit the truth. While many of you know me as a solo woman traveler in my early to mid 30s, the plain, unvarnished truth is that Im actually 39.

And Ill be turning 40 in less than 3 months. Solo.

Only recently did I come to acknowledge this grim truth about myself in the face of incontrovertible evidence - so it is only now that I can admit it to you, fair reader.

The real turning point for me came after my most recent solo trip this past week to Amsterdam (separate trip report to be posted this weekend), where I had a serious identity crisis related to lost carry-on luggage, which culminated in the acceptance of this imminent birthday fact.

This crisis was the result of seeing (again, I gasp) numerous trip photos of myself in which the lines on my face were uncannily similar to satellite photos of the myriad peaks and valleys of the Grand Canyon.

I am no longer 22.

While viewing said photos, it suddenly occurred to me that my lost carry-on luggage may have actually fallen from the overhead bin into the large furrow on my forehead while I was sleeping on the in-bound flight - and that the disappearance of my luggage was, in fact, not the fault of KLM (my head DID feel kind of heavy, but I thought it was just the jetlag). Now I owe a letter of apology to the airline. (Insidious furrow! Perhaps all the socks that I thought were lost in the dryer are actually floating somewhere in this vortex as well!.......But wait...maybe I should try to look on the bright side: I no longer need to wear a money belt).

I suppose that, in both a philosophical and practical sense, having this birthday is better than the alternative (e.g. NOT reaching 40) But still.I struggle.

So now I need your help : I want to turn things around I want my 40th birthday to be a memorable (and hopefully positive) experience, so Ive decided that I want to take the trip of a lifetime in celebration of this milestone. I have 12 days at the end of May to travel anywhere in the world. Solo, of course. If you were turning 40, traveling solo, and had 12 days to go anywhere in the world with no restrictions, where would you go? Lets make it memorable.

IDEAS: I have been toying with the idea of spending my 12 days in Greece (where I have never been); OR the south of France (Ive been to northern France, but never south of Paris); OR maybe Scandinavia.

CRITERIA: I should say that I tend to enjoy cities - historical places with nice museums and beautiful architecture and landmarks and tons of good food, but Im open to something new and different. Ive never been to a relaxing place with beaches as I tend to get horrible sunburns but if it was a place where there are also a lot of OTHER things to do, Id definitely consider it.

N.B.: While I love beautiful places, Id like a place thats good for a SOLO traveler I want to avoid any place that is overly associated with honeymoons or that has tons of couples walking around hand in hand, smooching and making lovey-dovey noises at each other on every corner. Having to deal with this type of thing for 12 days on a solo trip would undoubtedly send me over the edge (and I mean wayyyy over the edge).

If anyone out there has ever taken an amazing trip (particularly a solo trip for a milestone birthday) - Id love to hear from you Actually, Id love ideas from anyone. Thanks for all the tips the encouragement over the past couple of years! Magellan
Magellan_5 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 11:26 AM
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Magellan,

Oh, you're still a youngster! I'm 52 and while I don't have wrinkles (probably thanks to the hated oily skin I had as a teenager), I DO have bags under my eyes!

Three years ago my twin sister and I spent our 50th birthday in England. We were there 15 days and traveled through England, Wales and Scotland and it was GREAT! So much so that we are going back to Scotland this August.

Traveling to Greece sounds like a good idea - I always thought renting a cave home in Santorini would be something interesting to do.

I highly recommend spending milestone birthdays in wonderful places! Go for it!

twina49 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 11:44 AM
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Hey, I did south of France for my 40th solo and it was awesome! ( even w/ a few glitches). So I say do Provence & Riviera
laartista is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 12:02 PM
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yk
 
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Congratulations on your upcoming birthday.

Can you tell us where else have you been (apart from Amsterdam)?

I think S of France sounds great, even though I have never been myself (it's on my list). Do you feel comfortable driving by yourself?

I have gone on a 10-day solo trip to Switzerland a few years ago. Had a great time. There aren't many "big cities" in Switzerland, but the towns are cute and the scenery is simply breathtaking. With 12 days, you can pretty much cover most of Switzerland. Even though it's a small country, you'll get to experience the French part, German part, Italian part. Quite diverse.

I always find London exciting, despite having been there over a dozen of times. So you can also do London and Paris; or London and Edinburgh.
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Feb 29th, 2008, 12:03 PM
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My suggestion is to write down all those "must sees" that you haven't seen yet. And plan a trip around that.

I did this for my solo trip this May. My DH told me to go anywhere I wanted for a week, in part, to celebrate turning 30. I made a list, and chose to see Florence, something I know DH isn't interested in and it is a "must see" for me. Then I threw in Rome, because I love that city.

I just read laartista's solo trip report through S.France/Italy, and I highly recommend it.

Good luck!
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Feb 29th, 2008, 12:31 PM
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For a major trip, I don't think the destination has much to do with the fact you are turning 40 or that you are a single woman.

Where do you want to go? Go there.
suze is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 01:20 PM
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Hi suze - I definitely see your point! I just don't want to make the mistake of ending up in a place where there's only 20 year olds (and I feel like I could be their mother) or in a very romantic place with so many couples (where I feel like a leper) - LOL.

Just mainly wanting to hear about memorable trips folks have taken so I can get some new ideas/ suggestions - I'm in a bit of a rut.

Thanks, everyone!
Magellan_5 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 01:31 PM
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How could you go wrong with Italy? Although I haven't been there in May, so maybe it does get overrun with the affectionately coupled.

I have been to Scandinavia, and it's fine and clean and friendly. One main drawback is the cost (although I guess Italy is hardly cheap either). But somehow I don't really see it as an exciting place to travel. The "tons of good food" part does not really apply, unless you are willing to pay a king's ransom.

Maybe you feel like going someplace that would "stretch" you a bit more? How about Romania or elsewhere in central and eastern Europe?

Coincidentally, I recently came back from a trip to Mexico City, which started two days after my birthday. It completely fits these criteria: "historical places with nice museums and beautiful architecture and landmarks and tons of good food"
I had an excellent time.

Or I'd consider Spain. I've only been there briefly, but it fits your criteria too.
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Feb 29th, 2008, 01:43 PM
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Where are you flying from???
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 01:53 PM
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(*I'm having some strange technical issues. I thought I posted this response earlier, so apologies if it gets posted twice).

Wow - some great responses already!

tweena - thanks for your great response

mebe: I think part of my uncertainty stems from the fact that I have been to almost all of my "must see" places, and I'm now working my way through my "I think I might want to see this too" list.

yk - After reading your continuing report on Spain, it's making me want to go back and do the southern part of the country! To answer your questions, yes I'm comfortable drivng as long as it's on the right side of the road and not the left.

Some of the places I've been recently: Spain (only Toledo, Madrid & Barcenlona); France (Paris, Amiens, Arras & Chartres); the U.K. (most of England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland); Ireland (pretty much all of it); Czech Republic (Prague only); and Italy (Florence and Rome only); Netherlands; and Belgium (Bruges only). Thanks!

WillTravel - Great info on Scandinavia - thanks for that. I will probably save that trip for another time then. I LOVE the idea of Romania - that had never even occured to me.

ekscrunchy - I'd be flying out of San Francisco, so anywhere in Europe would be a long flight (but OH so worth it!).




Magellan_5 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 01:55 PM
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Whoops - one more! laartista, glad to hear that Provence was a great 40th b-day for you - I'm definitely considering that. I've had 7 years of French, so this area is very appealing to me. Thanks for posting!
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Feb 29th, 2008, 02:34 PM
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IF I lived in SF I might consider an Asian city. If you have any interest I will expand on the idea.
ekscrunchy is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 02:37 PM
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ekscrunchy - I'm most definitely willing to entertain some new places/ ideas, so by all means please share your thoughts on some Asian cities! thx!
Magellan_5 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 02:58 PM
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I think I would go on a Safari in Africa or go to see Petra in Jordan. Those are the real biggies on my list, followed by Turkey and Machu Picchu, Peru, or a cruise down the Amazon.

This may not appeal at all, but you seem so open, it is just another idea: a trip with a special purpose, like an archaeological dig, tracking elephants in the wild, etc. Maybe there is something you've always wanted to do like that. I did a painting week once, which was a wonderful experience, and worked on a house for Habitat. That was fun, interesting and rewarding and I met some very interesting people. I hope to do it again. It will be fun to hear what you decide.
Sassafrass is online now  
Feb 29th, 2008, 03:05 PM
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I'm all for making milestone birthdays memorable with a great trip! For my 40th, I traveled around County Cork in a horse-drawn ("gypsy"-style) caravan. What a hoot! And I got to meet so many wonderful local people by taking the very slow road.

But for a city-lover, I note with some curiosity the glaring lack of German travel. Maybe it's just not a recent travel spot?? Either way, have you considered Munich for a birthday trip? It has just about everything you mentioned you look for, plus for the length of time you'll have to venture out, you can spend some time in the Alps or nearby... it's unfortunate that Munich is known only for its beer and oompah, when it's got some truly wonderful restaurants, museums and musical venues.
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Feb 29th, 2008, 03:15 PM
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FlaAnn - What a great picture you painted of your trip to Cork!

*You are spot on correct - I have never been to Germany and I don't speak any German (yet). Munich didn't occur to me because I did actually associate it with beer drinking college students (not that there's anything wrong with that, other than the fact that I'm no longer one of them!). But I would love to hear more from you about this possibility - sounds like you're saying maybe Munich and the Alps - where else would you go there? Thank you!
Magellan_5 is offline  
Feb 29th, 2008, 03:20 PM
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Sassafrass - Oh, your ideas are wonderful!! It's funny that you should mention this. Lately I have been feeling a bit restless on my trips that only involve eating and sightseeing - a trip with a "purpose" sounds fascinating - something totally off the beaten track. Can you tell me about how you went about looking for this type of thing - the elephant one in particular? I also love your ideas of places like Peru and Africa too. Yes, I'm open! Thank you!
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Feb 29th, 2008, 03:26 PM
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Well, there are many possibililties in Asia. If you are wedded to traveling in May the weather may be an issue because it can be hot in SE Asia. If you can take the heat, Bangkok would be a great place, as you could combine sightseeing with relaxing at a hotel pool.

Hanoi should be great in May as well, or at least that is what people told me when I as there last month on a solo trip..

I actually find Asia a least as comfortable to travel solo as I do Europe. The reasons are a bit complex but can be discussed on the Asia board.



About the suggestions for an African safari, I think your time is limited...again, we can discuss on Africa board.
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Feb 29th, 2008, 03:27 PM
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Give me until tomorrow and I will try to find some of the information I saved about working with the elephants and the web sites for this kind of trip.
Sassafrass is online now  
Feb 29th, 2008, 03:41 PM
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yk
 
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Magellan_5-

I actually went to Germany 4 times in last 5 years. I don't speak any German either, but that's not a problem at all as most Germans do speak some English. Also, it's a very "user-friendly" country, like Switzerland. You also haven't been to Austria either!

I'm not a big fan for Munich - I didn't find it that "scenic." I did enjoy my other 3 trips: 1 to Berlin (amazing city w/lots of history and great art), 1 to Rhine River Valley (just sitting on the cruise boat relaxing and enjoying the scenery), and 1 to Northern Bavaria of Nurnberg, Wurzburg and Bamberg (to get away from the typical touristy cities).

If you *really* love art museums, then I'd say, Berlin and Vienna (for the art, culture, majestic buildings), then maybe add in Salzburg or Rhine Valley (for the scenery).

BTW, if you're going in late May, you'll still catch the "spargel" season. That's the white asparagus which is just simply amazing. Last year I ate it every day on my Germany trip. If I could afford it, I'd just fly over there to eat them!
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