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Travel Where We're Dreaming of Traveling Next Year: Women Who Travel Podcast

08:53  02 december  2021
08:53  02 december  2021 Source:   cntraveler.com

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  Where We're Dreaming of Traveling Next Year: Women Who Travel Podcast © Courtesy Minor Hotels

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Earlier this week, Traveler launched its list of the best places to go in 2022. Inspired by that list, plus the many destination weddings on our calendars, the design hotels we've been eyeing, and family to see, we decided to dedicate this episode to the places we're hoping to visit in 2022. There's something for everyone, from chic Canadian Airbnbs to bustling Turkish getaways and Uruguayan art exhibitions. Joined by Sarah Khan, editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East, we run through all of our wish-list destinations for next year in our final episode of 2021. Thanks to Sarah for joining us and to Brett Fuchs for engineering and mixing this episode. And thank you, for listening to Women Who Travel through another year of highs and lows in the travel industry.

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Read a full transcription below.

Meredith Carey: Hi everyone, and welcome to our last episode of Women Who Travel of 2021. I'm Meredith Carey, and with me as always is my co-host, Lale Arikoglu.

Lale Arikoglu: Hello.

MC: To get a head start on planning and get a little inspiration for ourselves, we are talking all about where we want to travel next year in this week's episode. Joining us to chat about our dream destinations is Sarah Khan, editor-in-chief of Condé Nast Traveller Middle East. Thanks so much for joining us, Sarah.

Sarah Khan: Thanks for having me as always—my favorite podcast.

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MC: I'm going to throw it to you first. Where are you wanting to go next year?

SK: The place I am dying to go first is India, which is not that exciting for me technically because it's home, but I have not been home in two years. So I'm really hoping to get out there as soon as I can, maybe a birthday trip in January.

And once I've ticked that box, I did actually just recently move to Dubai for this role and so I just am excited to travel around the Middle East. There's a lot going on in this part of the world, especially 2022, with the Qatar World Cup and the Expo in Dubai. There's just a lot to see in this area, so I'll probably be staying close to my new home.

MC: When you are talking about going home to India, where are the places—outside of seeing family first, of course—where are the places that you're like, Okay, I have to hit all of these spots. Where are you going when you land?

SK: You will find me from the airport straight to Soho House in Juhu in Bombay. I love that hotel, love the whole vibe there, and I hear it's still quite the place to be, so I want to be there. Bombay is one of my favorite cities on the planet, so I'm excited to go back there. I've been on this mission to explore as much of India as possible. It takes forever because there's so much to see. I've never been to the mountains in India, so that was one of the things I was hoping to do in 2020, was to actually go up to the Himalayas, to Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and all that. So I'm really hoping that that will be on my hit list this summer.

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MC: Amazing. One of my places that I want to go next summer is actually very, very, very specific and niche. I spend a lot of time on the internet looking at Airbnbs for my job, and there is one Airbnb literally called the Summer House that is in Canada that I want to plan an entire trip around. It is so beautiful and girly and pink and so well-designed, and I would like to live there. It's in a town called South Hampton that's right on Lake Huron and it's about three hours from Toronto. So I want to plan a trip to Ontario and hit up this specific Airbnb, which I will definitely link in the show notes because everyone should book this place—but leave me a weekend spare in the summer—and tie it into a trip to Toronto. I have never been to Toronto. Been to Montreal, been to Vancouver, but dying to go to Toronto, which had a new One Hotel just opened this year. And I also talked to Sage Paul, who is one of the founders of Indigenous Fashion week, Toronto for our World Made Local package that went up in the magazine and up online a couple months ago. And she just shared some incredible Indigenous- and First Nation-led restaurants, museums, and experiences to seek out in the city, which is where she lives. And I just had so much fun talking to her and now I'm like, we can go to Canada. I'm planning a trip specifically to this Airbnb that I have had bookmarked for about a year and a half and tying it into a trip to Toronto so I can road-trip there. And it has three bedrooms, so have to find friends. So if anyone wants to join…

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SK: I was just about to invite myself, because I don't know if you know, I was born in Toronto and I haven't been back to Canada in years. I haven't been to Toronto in maybe 16, 17 years. I know nothing about Toronto basically, so I will come with you and explore with you. How about that?

LA: Can we all go? Because I've never been to Canada.

MC: Oh my gosh. Okay, great. So I have filled all the bedrooms of this Airbnb.

LA: Sorry if you wanted to invite other people to the Summer House, other than me and Sarah.

MC: Lale, if you are not coming with me to Ontario, where are you going next year?

LA: Okay. So one place that is a real priority for me for personal reasons, but I also think should be on lots of travelers' radars for 2022, is Istanbul. As listeners of the podcast know, I have lots of family there and I love it. I think it is a magical, magical, magical frenetic wild city, and it also has a sort of slew of openings. The most significant that has been in the works for a long time is Galataport, which is on the European side of the Bosphorus. For those who aren't aware, the Bosphorus basically divides Europe and Asia, so you can switch between continents when you're in the city, which is a novelty that has never gotten old for me. But Galataport has been a long time coming and it is a huge social, cultural, leisure area on the waterfront near Karaköy, which is a super cool neighborhood. The reason why it's got so developed is because it is going to be the new cruise terminal, so for anyone who is planning on cruising through Europe or the Middle East, chances are you might be passing through Galataport next year and beyond. But it's also the site of the new Renzo Piano–designed Istanbul Modern museum, which is the major contemporary art museum in Istanbul, which I've always loved and I think is fantastic and I'm very excited to see the new space. There's a slew of hotel openings that are happening in the city as well. The most notable is probably the Peninsula if you're looking for some luxury, but Istanbul is also full of fantastic Airbnbs that I cannot recommend enough if you want to truly live like a local there. And like all major cities, it's gone through some very tough lockdowns in the past couple of years, so I think it will be really wonderful to see it alive and busy and full of people again.

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SK: Awesome. And it's so exciting to hear that Galataport is opening because I feel like it's been in the works for a long time, right?

LA: Yeah. It feels really major for the city. I think it'll be interesting to see how it changes that part.

MC: So speaking of cruising, something that came up on my Instagram like 700,000 times over the summer was Malta, and I am a sucker for if all of my friends were going somewhere, I have to go. And one of the people who went to Malta was Sarah Khan. So can you share why Malta has been on everyone's list and why I'll probably be trying to go next year?

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SK: I think the question really should be why it hasn't been on everyone's list until now, because it is such a manageable destination. It's so familiar and accessible. I think I had flown from the U.S. and it wasn't... I can't remember what it was. It wasn't direct, but it wasn't that bad. And then everybody speaks English there, but it's got a very Italian vibe, but it just seems like a place Americans would love and find accessible and easy. I went, however, because I am now obviously with Condé Nast Traveller Middle East, and the most fascinating thing to me is that Malta was once an Arab colony and their language is actually 50 percent Arabic and 50 percent English [Editor's note: Maltese is 50 percent Arabic, 50 percent Scicilian. It's the only Semitic language in the European union. So I was going there to trace the Arab history in Malta, which was really a fun and interesting story to do. But beyond that, the beaches, the natural scenery, the history. I learned so much about European history there because I didn't realize it was just all of Europe in one place and all the different influences that came from that. So yeah, I don't know why more people weren't going to Malta before, but I'm glad everybody seemed to jump on board this summer.

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MC: And I feel like it was one of the first places in the Mediterranean that was really open arms, accepting cruise ships back. So I know a lot of cruise lines have added it to itineraries, so if you're looking at a cruise next year, there's a chance that you might end up in Malta. Sarah, where else are you looking at next year?

SK: Actually the first trip that got canceled because of COVID for me was London. I was supposed to go in April of 2020, and obviously that did not happen, and I kept pushing it back and it still has not happened. But part of why I wanted to go is I—this is always a shocker to people—have not been to London in 30 years or more.

LA: What, Sarah.

SK: The last time I was in London—this really will date me and age me dramatically—I was at a Free Mandela rally in Hyde Park. So that just goes to show how long it's been. And yeah, I mean, a lot has obviously happened since then around the world, but in London as well. I think one of the reasons I'm just really eager to go is the Indian food scene in particular, there. There's just so many interesting Indian restaurants there that I'm dying to see. I think part of why I haven't been there is because I figure I'm going to love it and I know I'm going to love it and it's going to be great, and I know so many people and then I just keep putting it off, but now pandemic has put it off, so 2022.

LA: For people who are interested in the Royal family—and I will have to confess that I literally couldn't care less—but it is the Queen's Platinum Jubilee in 2022, which I'm sure is going to draw lots of crowds, whatever festivities take place, but that will not be the reason why I go home, I have to admit.

MC: Lale, other than probably planning many more trips home [to London,] where else are you looking at?

LA: Oh, I don't know if this is just really obvious, but I feel like this is just on the top of mind for so many people in the States for sure, which is just to see as much of Europe as I possibly can next year. I, for a long time, took its proximity to London for granted and then still took it for granted when I could travel from the U.S., and I miss it dearly. I'm very excited because I have a wedding in the South of France in August of next year, and I am currently trying to figure out if I can tack on a trip to Morocco afterwards because the flights from south of France to Morocco take no time at all and feel budget-wise, very, very doable. And I've never been to Morocco, and it's been top of my list for a long time. It's a toss up between that or doing a road trip through Spain.

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MC: I mean, no bad option there.

LA: Yeah. I'll just say, if anyone listening wants to tell me which one I should choose between the two…

MC: Do you have any ideas of where you would want to go in either of those places? Because they're quite large countries.

LA: They're very large countries. So Spain, I have not been to since I was 13, 14, it's been a really long time and I've never been to Barcelona and that part of Spain. So I think that really is like the priority for me. And then again, I mean, I feel like I'm giving very obvious... I also realized I said Europe and then went straight to Morocco.

MC: Well, the starting point is South of France.

LA: And then Morocco, I mean, it's got to be Marrakech. And then I'd love to go up into the Atlas Mountains. It just looks so dramatic and beautiful and out in the middle of nowhere, which I think is something that I feel more drawn to doing as time goes on after these rocky couple of years.

MC: My next suggestion, I'm just like Miss North America over here. But one of my biggest travel gaps, I guess you could say? Like a hole that needs to be filled immediately by travel is Mexico. I have only ever been to the Mexico City airport. I have not been outside the Mexico City airport. I have not been anywhere else in Mexico, and next year I am trying to go at least twice. I have a friend who is getting married there in Mexico City and I am dying to check out some of the hotels that made our Hot List last year. One is this like super minimalist place called Octavia Casa, and it's just so gorgeous. Again, I'm just getting drawn in by all of these very pretty hotels, but it's in Mexico City's Condesa neighborhood, and there's just so much to do around there. So much walking, so many restaurants, so many shops. And I just want to be in the middle of it, eating everything that I can. The person who owns the hotel is Roberta Maceda and she has a women's wear and home design label, so you know that the interiors are going to be stunning. But yeah, I'm really excited about that.

And then I want to go beyond Mexico City, which is why I'd like to take two trips, probably one in the spring and one in the fall just to hit different regions.The problem is is that there are so many that I want to see that whittling it down is becoming very difficult, but I'd like to take two weeks separately and just hit up two different spots in Mexico, one being Mexico City. So anyone has any Mexico trip part two suggestions for me, let me know.

SK: I have only been to Tijuana. I walked over from San Diego, so I might have to crash that trip too.

LA: How am I the one that spent the most time in Mexico? I've been multiple times, I've been to different cities.

SK: I actually had wanted to do Mexico City for my 40th, but 40th was in January 2021 in the middle of the pandemic, so...

LA: Oh, well you get a redo for that. You 100 percent get a full redo.

SK: My 41st is when I turn 40, so maybe I'll do Mexico City for that. I’m actually really offended that neither of you said you wanted to visit me in Dubai.

LA: We haven't done the whole thing yet.

MC: There's more to come, Sarah. Well, obviously the Expo's going on, but what else is new near you that we should have on our radar?

LA: And actually to that point, I want to know now that you are based in Dubai, geographically, what do you want to take advantage of? Because I saw just the last, was it last week, you were doing some incredible looking travels.

SK: Yeah. I went to Al-'Ula, Saudi Arabia for 12 hours, which is doable now that I live here. It's a direct three-hour flight that just launched, which was incredible. It was the same civilization as Petra, so they have the same kind of ruins, but because it's Saudi Arabia and has only just reopened for tourism—or just opened for tourism rather—they're very untouched and stunning. So I'm glad I got to do that. I definitely need to go back and do it properly because there's a new Habitas [hotel] there that I'm dying to stay at. Next door in Qatar, like I was saying with the World Cup, there's a lot of excitement around that, but there's also a new spa resort called Zulal that just opened a couple of weeks ago that looks stunning. It's the first wellness retreat to incorporate traditional Arabic and Islamic medicine, which I'm really curious to learn about. So that is high on my list, hopefully in the next couple of weeks as well. And yeah, I'm just excited to explore Dubai because Dubai is amazing, and obviously with Expo, all eyes are on Dubai at least, for a lot of people in this part of the world, but then there's so much beyond Dubai and I feel like when people think of the UAE, they just think of Dubai, whereas there's new hotels in Fujairah, which is on the coast. There's Abu Dhabi always has interesting things going on and there's a mountainous region called Hatta. So I'm just excited to really dive in and get to know all the Emirates.

MC: Okay. So one place that I do want to go that's near you is this Anantara resort called Qasr Al Sarab, which is like outside of Abu Dhabi and it's meant to be kind of like a Bedouin village. And the reason why I want to go is because I was interviewing the production designer for Dune, which I loved. And when they were filming in the UAE, that is where they stayed because they actually filmed in the desert right outside of the resort. He was saying they would drive 10 minutes and then that was where their set was, because it really is truly in the middle of the desert. I feel like when Lale was talking about how she wanted to go into the mountains and just be somewhere that was quiet and remote, this is my version of that: being somewhere that is unlike anywhere else on the planet, stunning sand dunes, very hot, a place where you're just going to have to lay and that's going to be fine. That's definitely on my list next year, and it's been so since I talked to him and was trying to figure out where they filmed all these desert scenes.

SK: Well, again, I think we might be traveling together yet again, because it's on my list too. It actually just won a Favorite Desert Resort [award] for our Readers’ Choice Awards that we had this month. And so it seems like the ultimate desert fantasy and I'm a desert baby. I grew up in Saudi Arabia. I love desert landscapes as my favorite nature destination. And it's funny because you're right, it is so remote. The UAE is not a big country, but I believe it's about a three- or four-hours drive from Dubai, which the idea of having to go that far out from here is really exciting to me. So let's do it.

MC: Yeah. It's so beautiful. Very, very into it. Lale, where else are you traveling that we can piggyback onto your trip?

LA: Okay. So one place which I have to say has been totally informed by Instagram FOMO that I've had this weekend, which is I would love—and I also just want to say it is a country that I have been desperate to get to for some time—but I would love to go to Uruguay to see the new James Turrell Skyspace at Posada Ayana. It looks absolutely extraordinary. And my Instagram stories this weekend, because it was the opening weekend, was just filled with James Turrell content and it looks extraordinary and it feels like a wonderful excuse to get down to Uruguay and explore it. It's a country that I've just been really intrigued by and I haven't seen enough of that part of the world.

Somewhere closer to home is Seattle, which I was supposed to visit in 2020 and obviously did not make it. And I feel like I've kind of ticked off a pretty good list of American cities at this point since moving here, but Seattle is somewhere I haven't made it to and I want the London-style rain and lots of fresh seafood. And just to explore it and get to know it a bit.

MC: So, the last place I want to go on my very busy schedule, which already has seven weddings, but is going to just be absolutely filled with travel, is Copenhagen. I have never been, and I just have a feeling I think I might really love it there. The place that I really want to go—and this is again, it's crazy to plan an entire trip around a single thing—but I really wanted to go to this one store called Holly Golightly. And it is filled with home goods and sweaters and all sorts of things from Danish and Scandinavian makers. And one of the people that is stocked in the store is this woman who I absolutely love following on Instagram, whose name I will probably mispronounce, but it's Lærke Bagger and she is this incredible knitter. She just came out with a book about knitting. I am not a knitter, but I am in a family of women who knit. And she just came out with a book all about knitting. It has a bunch of patterns in it. It's currently only out in Danish, but hopefully it'll be released in English soon and then I might be able to get into it. But she just has such an amazing eye for color. And I basically want to go to this store just to try on her sweaters, which are all hand knit, and she's just so amazing.

But there are other things in Copenhagen that I want to see too. I would love to go to Juno the Bakery for pastries, Villa Copenhagen was on our 2021 Hot List. It's in the former headquarters of the Danish post office and was built in 1912 and has been beautifully restored. But all of the rooms, instead of having that 1912 design, are very calm, very Scandi, very minimalist, so beautiful. I want to put my biking skills to the test and try and bike around Copenhagen, but they also just opened a new Metro system in 2019. So if I can't make it with the Danish bikers, I can zip around other ways. I have done the thing already where I've just made a Google map of all the places I want to go in Copenhagen, which I think is a pretty good sign that I will make it work and find a flight over there at some point next year. So that is my last pick.

LA: I was going to say, all I want to do is go shopping in Copenhagen for the fashion alone. I just-

MC: I feel like I've been buying things over the past year and a half to tide me over until the office reopens and we get back to really going out to fancy dinners and now we're there and I'm like, oh no, I do not have the clothes.

LA: I need new things.

MC: Yes. So obviously I have to fly all the way to Copenhagen to shop.

LA: I think it's the only reasonable solution.

MC: Of course. Okay. Sarah, what is your last spot?

SK: One place that I really want to go is this island called Socotra off the coast of Yemen. It's in Yemen, but it's operated or somewhat controlled by the UAE or they have some relationship and so there are direct fights from there. And I don't know if you've heard about it or seen it on social media, but it looks absolutely stunning. It's kind of like just got this Galapagos remote vibe, these really unique treescapes and just the coast is stunning and it's absolutely gorgeous, and you can do these trips there. There's little tour operators that work with locals and do one-week trips, but the thing is it's one week entirely off the grid. So I don't know if I can justify that right now with my workload, but that would be something I would love to do.

LA: I have heard about this island. It looks and sounds amazing and fascinating, and I really hope you get there. Because I want to hear it all about it and live vicariously through you.

SK: You will see it all on Instagram whenever I get service back.

MC: Lale, what is your last pick?

LA: Last pick is a little bit of a personal one again, which is that I have some very close family up in Scotland, in the Highlands, who I haven't seen since 2018 and I miss them a lot and I'm desperate to see them. So I would love to get up there and in doing so, I want to take the Caledonian Sleeper, which I've done before, which you get from London. And it's the overnight train that takes you up to Inverness. And one of my favorite things about it is that there's someone who knocks on your door at like 5:00 in the morning to deliver a bacon sandwich to you, which I just think is the best thing anyone could ever do for you if you are sleeping on a night train, and just be in the outdoors and go hiking and be in the beautiful landscape. And if I can, and if I make it over there in the summertime to go to Skye and hop around the islands there, which is just, I think some of the most extraordinary landscapes in the world, and it's so peaceful there. And in the depths of lockdown, I thought about Skye and my family a lot, so I'd love to make it up there.

MC: Oh, well, thank you guys both for sharing all of your ideas on where you want to go. We'll have links to a whole boatload of things, including most of the hotels we mentioned, that Airbnb I'm dying to go to, they will all be in the show notes, so be sure to check them out. If people want to follow you next year and see what you are up to Sarah, where can they find you on the internet?

SK: I am @bysarahkhan anywhere social media exists, on Twitter, Instagram, you name it.

MC: I'm @ohheytheremere.

LA: And I'm @lalehannah.

MC: As a reminder, this is our last episode of the year, so be sure to subscribe wherever you listen to podcasts so you are alerted when we come back in the spring 2022. We will hopefully have traveled very far and wide by the time we come back and have lots of things to talk about. Thank you so much for listening all of this year and we will talk to you later.

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