The Places I Long to Return To

Southern Armenia

The longer I’ve been home after my 13 month journey through the former Soviet Union, the more I’ve been thinking about the places I want to go back to.  As I ponder my future travel destinations, I am torn between discovering new places or returning to some of those that I am dying to explore more. And with limited vacation time for the foreseeable future, it will be tough to decide which way to go. Not to mention that, with most of these places, I would really love to return for more than a week or two – a month or two would be my preference.  But let me dream for now…


Shing, Tajikistan

While I didn’t appreciate it so much at the time, my month in Tajikistan really was a wonderful escape. With no television or internet access, I spent much of my free time reading, writing and hiking in the mountains around my homestays in the Fann Mountains. I adored my host family in Shing and I would love to return to see how they are doing – especially the younger girls like Mohpisand and Farhunda with whom I spent a lot of time. They were so smart and enthusiastic and I would love to teach them more.

I am also dying to explore the Pamir region in Tajikistan. When I visited the first time, I could only get a 30-day visa, so I had to move on as soon as my volunteer stint ended. While I thought of returning after I passed through Kyrgyzstan, I ran out of the time and money to do so (and as it turns out the Pamirs were closed to foreigners for a time, so I wouldn’t have been able to go anyway).


Tatev Monastery, Armenia

Okay, so I have already been to Armenia twice, returning for a week after my initial time volunteering there. But, there were some things I missed. It was too windy to ride the cable car to Tatev Monastery when I was there and my camera died while we were visiting Echmiadzin.  I felt rushed visiting sites like Khor Virap and Garni Temple because I went with a tour group, not on my own. And I would love to see Lake Sevan in the summer. I also skipped Nagorno-Karabakh (known to Armenians as Artsakh) when I visited because if I went, I would be prohibited from entering Azerbaijan. Now that I have been to Azerbaijan and have little interest in returning, I would love to go to Artsakh and, specifically, hike the Janapar Trail – a 100 kilometer hiking path through the region. And while I haven’t really made this public knowledge yet, I would really love to write a guidebook about Armenia.



Yes, my three months in Russia were incredibly up and down, but the longer I have been away, the more I want to return.  I would love to visit St. Petersburg for the White Nights Festival and while I have little desire to return to Moscow, I do want to explore the Golden Ring some more – my day trips to Suzdal and Sergiev Posad were rushed and I never even made it to Vladimir or Yaroslavl or some of the smaller towns last time. I also really want to explore more of eastern Russia, such as the Tuva region and the Kamchatka Peninsula. I just didn’t have the time or the money to include those my first time around.  And of course if I could go to Sochi for the 2014 Winter Olympics, I would be in heaven (I actually applied to volunteer during the Olympics but while I haven’t been officially rejected, I have given up hope that I’ll be selected).


Tbilisi churches

Ok, yes, I have been to Georgia a whopping five times already. But those five trips added up to less than a month total in the country and I just really, really like it there. The food, the people, the sites – all are amazing. If I was going to move anywhere overseas, Tbilisi would probably be my top choice. Beyond that, I would love to return to do some longer hikes in Svaneti, make a trip up to Abkhazia (which I never even considered previously, but now have a friend who did it and it intrigues me) and maybe even run the Kazbegi Marathon.


Kiev, Ukraine

It snowed the first nine days I was in Ukraine. That was followed by a deep freeze – the coldest cold spell the country had seen in decades. So even though I enjoyed the six weeks I spent there, I would love to go back in the spring, summer or fall – pretty much any time other than winter! I would spend some more time in Kiev and Lviv, check out more of the small towns throughout western Ukraine and, above all, go hiking in the Carpathians.


Warsaw, Poland

I never really planned to explore much of Poland on my trip since I was focusing on the former Soviet Union. But, it worked out that I spent about ten days in Warsaw over the holidays and that brief taste was enough to leave me dreaming of a return trip. I actually read up quite a bit on Poland before my trip because at one point I thought I would include it, so I know a few places really stand out to me: Krakow, Gdansk, Sopot, Wroclaw and the lakes region.



This was another detour from my original plan and the three weeks I spent there left me wanting so much more! My week in Istanbul did not feel like nearly enough and beyond that, I only saw a fraction of the country: Amasya, Trabzon, Erzurum and Kars. I could easily go back and spend another three months there, seeing more of Istanbul and exploring places like Izmir, Canakkle, Kusadasi, Cappadocia, Antalya, Lake Van and even hiking the Lycian Way.

What places have you visited that you would love to return to?


18 thoughts on “The Places I Long to Return To”

  1. I´m so impressed by this list of yours! The former Soviet Union has always been one of my biggest travel dreams. To taste a real Ukrainian borsch, walk through St Petersburg during White nights period, visit Auschwitz…I could go on and on like this. Hats off to you for being such a determined traveler!

  2. I haven’t been to any of the places on the list so I want to visit those! So many places to see and so little time…and money. It’s hard to make a list of places to visit because I keep adding and adding and it pretty much is the whole world. There are a few places I’d love to go back to but more new places that I’d like to explore.

  3. I can totally relate to the struggle in choosing between the pull of beloved destinations and the desire to visit new ones.

    Some of the places I yearn to return to? New Zealand, Scotland, Belize, the American Southwest… my list could go on and on!

  4. Tajikstan sounds like such an exotic destination. The Pamir region does sound really cool- I just have to wonder it will ever get easier to visit there- doesn’t seem likely soon.

  5. I could return to Italy a million times and not be satisfied. I really want to go back to Turkey too and see more. Other than Istanbul, you and I saw opposite ends of the country. I’d love to see more Greek islands, more of Australia and New Zealand, more of SE Asia…ok, I should stop. But it’s always a battle between visiting somewhere new and returning to a place you loved or didn’t get to see enough of.

  6. Спасибо за прекрасное чтение (читал до семи утра, ох).

    Меня зовут Денис, я живу в Санкт-Петербурге (Россия, не Флорида), и с интересом прочитал про твои приключения в странах бывшего СССР. Сам я, увы, был только на Украине, в Латвии и в Узбекистане, так что заодно узнал много нового. И в проницательности тебе не откажешь – по крайней мере, в том, что касается России, ты очень правильно всё подметила и сделала верные обобщения. Разве что, удивительно, как ты буквально рвёшься на олимпиаду в Сочи – в России многие к ней относятся отрицательно и уверены (и я в том числе), что олимпиада покажет Россию с неприглядной стороны. Впрочем, может, это и есть наш пресловутый chips on shoulders.

    Приезжай ещё в Санкт-Петербург, а пока буду ждать новых записей.

    Надеюсь, твой русский уже достаточно хорош, чтобы ты смогла прочитать моё сообщение.

    P.S. Поразительно, но про твой сайт в России никто не знает – что ж, я попробую это исправить.

  7. I miss Germany! Especially the friendly town of Kornwestein. Quaint and peaceful, a perfect retreat from the hussle. I also would love to do a month or 2 and explore the rest of Germany. I absolutely just love that country and find it is amazingly gorgeous. With things on the cups of changing in my life in terms of my career, I can see this only happening in the next 4-5 yrs only though.

  8. I have never been to any country. But the place I would like to visit is New Zealand (to visit my closest friend). Another one is America, I have many relatives and friends in there and I really hope to see them once.
    By the way, check out my latest blog post at The art of bargaining in Vietnam

  9. I was sad to miss Nagorno Karabakh, too. Just didn’t have enough time. And Abkhazia (never got the visa letter, oddly). Another time.

  10. then come back to Poland and I’ll gladly hang out with you, showing you places you didn’t include in destinations that interest you but I’m sure you’d enjoy even more (such as Lublin or Podlasie:)) and then we could go to Ukraine together 😉

    There are couple of destinations I’d love to return to, these include Georgia, Armenia, Ukraine, Romania and Bosnia. But there are so many other places I’d love to explore too!

    1. Ahhh…would love to go back to Poland! Especially after reading about Dalene and Pete’s time there! Maybe next summer… 🙂

      1. yeah, they really seemed to enjoy it here and it was so much fun to spend some time with them (much more than we all planed;)) and show them not so touristy Warsaw 😉 Thanks again for helping with our meeting! 🙂 And when you come back be sure to do so in summer time! There are so many things going on and the atmosphere in Warsaw is so great! It can be beautiful in winter but summer is definitely the time to be here! Too bad I haven’t known your blog yet once you were here…

        1. I know, it is too bad we didn’t know of each other when I was in Warsaw – would’ve been nice to have someone to meet up with there!

  11. Everywhere! We always enjoy New York City and do get back there from time to time. I have to also say Normandy. We visited last year and I want to get back to explore more of the WWII battlefields. Other places: Would love to get back to Tuscany and spend more time relaxing in countryside. I would also like to spend more time in the Highlands.

    1. I do love NYC too – I used to go every year over Labor Day weekend, first for fun and then to go to the US Open. I’m going back the second weekend in September this year for the first time in 5 years. Very excited!

  12. I would definitely say Normandy, France. We had 24 hours to see the D-Day battle sites and I didn’t even get to Utah Beach (as a skydiver, this was an important area). I didn’t get a chance to explore non D-day related things and I wished I had more time. So, this would be it for me.

    I maybe would add Singapore, too. Even though, I lived there for a little less than a year, I was young. I would like to go back as an adult.

    1. Interesting, a couple plugs for Normandy! I’ve actually never been but thinking I should keep it in mind if I ever get back to France.

      And that totally makes sense to want to revisit some place you went when you were young, to see how it is changed and how your perceptions of the place have changed!

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