One year ago today, I launched this blog by sending my first post into cyberspace. Having never operated a website before, I really had no idea of what I was getting into. But it’s been an incredible year. Portugal, Egypt, and Germany became countries no. 24, 25, and 26 on my World Karaoke Tour; I enjoyed writing about my international karaoke experiences and other travel adventures; and I discovered an amazing and inspiring community of travel bloggers. Along the way, I’ve connected with some very cool people. Learning from them has already helped to make my travels more fulfilling.
There was a rough patch during the early part of 2012 when I got sick and suspended my blogging for over three months. Let us never speak of that dark period again, except to say that getting through it provided me with a renewed sense of purpose, and even a sense of urgency. The realisation that I can’t take my health for granted now motivates me to enjoy life to the best of my ability, and to prioritise seeing as much as I can of the beauty and wonder in this world — while getting to know the people who live in it.
As I commemorate the first anniversary of this website (an occasion that’s also known in the vernacular as my “blogoversary”), I’m eager to embark on the next 12 months! I’ve got some exciting plans lined up for the second year of H-Bomb’s Worldwide Karaoke. I’m especially anticipating the following events:
1. Santacon in New York City
One of the annual highlights of the holiday season for me is Santacon: a celebration held on the same day in various cities around the world, during which large numbers of people dressed as Santas and other seasonally appropriate characters cavort around town, make merriment, and (of course) consume generous quantities of alcoholic beverages. New York City’s Santacon is usually the biggest, featuring thousands of participants; and it’s just generally a really fun time. Here you can read my blog post about last year’s edition of Santacon. Santacon 2012 will be held on December 15 in at least 37 countries! It’ll be my fifth consecutive year of hanging with the Santas. (In case you’re wondering, I do not, myself, don a Santa outfit, beyond wearing the red hat with white trim. But hey, someone has to document the proceedings on the internet. So I still make a vital contribution. )
2. Istanbul for New Year’s
I typically spend my New Year’s Eves overseas, and the dawn of 2013 will be no exception. On December 27 I’m heading to Istanbul, the only city in the world that straddles two continents; that’s where I’ll be as the world rings in yet another year! From strolling through the Grand Bazaar, to touring the Hagia Sophia and Topkapi Palace, to taking a boat ride on the Bosphorus, I’ll be seeing and doing some spectacular stuff in the city formerly known as Constantinople.
It goes without saying that I’ll be singing karaoke while in Istanbul. To that end, I’ve already identified a karaoke venue there that looks pretty awesome, and I’ve even perused its song list online. Let’s just say that I’ll be Rocking the Cashbah as Turkey becomes country no. 27 on my World Karaoke Tour!
3. Nashville in February
Because I work full-time, one way I maximise my travel is to take advantage of long holiday weekends. One such extended weekend in the United States is the one leading up to President’s Day in late February. During President’s Day weekend in 2013, I’ll be flying in to Nashville, Tennessee. Nicknamed “Music City” and home to the Grand Ole Opry, Nashville is the global epicenter of country & western music. But that’s not why I’m going.
Although I do look forward to taking in some of Nashville’s unique attractions (including a full-scale replica of the Parthenon), the focus of that weekend will be an excursion to the nearby town of Murfreesboro, for a mission related to my World Karaoke Tour. I’m not yet at liberty to divulge the details of that mission, but it’s sure to prove unforgettable!
4. Russia, the Ukraine, and Moldova in May
In May 2013, I’m taking an epic vacation to the following cities of the former USSR: Moscow and St. Petersburg in the Russian Federation; Kiev, Ukraine; and Chişinău, Moldova. A brief sampling of some of the many entries on my itinerary for this trip:
• In Moscow: Red Square, St. Basil’s Cathedral, and the Kremlin; Lenin’s Tomb; Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics; Moscow Design Museum
• High-speed train from Moscow to St. Petersburg
• In St. Petersburg: Stage Hermitage Museum and Winter Palace; Dostoevsky House Museum
• In Kiev: Kiev Pechersk Lavra (Monastery of the Kiev Caves); Great Patriotic War Museum
• Day-trip to Chernobyl and the nearby ghost town of Prypiat
• Day-trip to Yalta, including a visit to the Swallow’s Nest castle
(Yes, Yalta is a little far from Kiev; I’ll be flying to Yalta for the day)
• In Chişinău: Pushkin Museum; Jewish cemetery
The locations in Russia and the Ukraine will be particularly meaningful to me because those countries are my ancestral homelands. So I’ll be getting in touch with my roots!
This trip will also have huge implications for my World Karaoke Tour. If all goes well, Moldova will be in line to become the 30th country in which I’ve sung karaoke, which would set a new world record. (The current record holder is believed to be Brian Thacker, a travel writer based in Australia who’s performed karaoke in 29 countries. His books are pretty hilarious, by the way; I recommend that you check them out!)
5. Toronto in June
The Travel Blog Exchange (TBEX) is a community of new media travel writers. Each year, TBEX holds two annual conferences: one in North America, and one in Europe. In 2013, the North American TBEX gathering will take place in Toronto on June 1-2. I’ve registered to attend, and am excited that I’ll be taking part in a TBEX confab for the very first time! I can’t wait to meet some of the interesting travelers whom I’ve been getting to know through their blogs and twitter. (In addition to bloggers, TBEX conferences include travel industry professionals; it’s a terrific opportunity for the bloggers to interact and network with them.)
6. Alaska in July
Inspired by a similar trip that Amanda Williams of the travel blog “A Dangerous Business” took last summer, I’ve planned an outing to Anchorage, Alaska for several days surrounding July 4. It’ll mark my first time in one of the non-contiguous U.S. states (and after this, I really need to make it to Hawaii already!). Among the activities on tap for my northern exposure: a glacier walk; a visit to a reindeer farm; and, of course, karaoke.
But wait, there’s more! On the way back to New York I’ll be stopping overnight in Seattle. I’ve never been in that city, so I can’t wait to see it! While my time in the Emerald City will be brief, it will undoubtedly whet my appetite for a return trip to explore Seattle in greater depth.
7. Las Vegas in August
Las Vegas is absolutely my number-one favourite city in the United States to visit. I’ve been there five times so far, and my sixth visit to Sin City is coming up in August 2013. As with my two most recent forays to Vegas, what’s bringing me out there is the Trivia Championships of North America (TCONA).
TCONA is intense, with a plethora of challenging tests of knowledge jam-packed into three days. But once again, I’ll force myself to get out of the hotel and walk around on the Strip. Perhaps I’ll take a ride on the SkyVue Las Vegas Super Wheel, a new Ferris wheel that will be larger than the London Eye, and which is slated to open on New Year’s Eve 2013. Karaoke is also a must, and I know of no better place to find it than the Las Vegas Strip! Finally, I can’t go to Las Vegas without hitting the blackjack tables.
8. A trip to be determined in the fall
I intend to take an international trip sometime in October or November of 2013. The exact destination hasn’t been finalized yet, but I’m leaning towards Machu Picchu, the lost city in Peru that Hiram Bingham discovered in 1911. I do reserve the right to flip-flop and substitute a different part of the world.
I’ll be sharing all of these amazing journeys with you. (Well, okay, the first item, Santacon, isn’t much of a “journey,” since I won’t have to leave my home city of New York to join up with all the Santas. But I’ll feel like I’m at the North Pole. Okay, not really. )
At the same time, there are still a fair amount of places that I traveled to in my pre-blogging era that I still need to get around to writing about; among them are Easter Island, Rio de Janeiro, Cape Town, Hong Kong, Auckland, Sydney, and Tallinn. I’m going to try to catch up and write reminiscences about as many of those awesome trips as I can, even as I continue to log new experiences.
The year ahead promises to be heaps of fun! Whether you’re just joining me or whether you’ve been following me for a while, thank you so much for being along for the ride. Your support means everything to me.
What are you looking forward to doing in the next year?