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The Follow-Your-Bliss List

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(7) Glasgow, Scotland
Dance to the next big post-punk band.
Discover the new Franz Ferdinand (or Dogs Die in Hot Cars, or Snow Patrol, or Sons and Daughters) at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut in Glasgow, Scotland. After the massive success of “Take Me Out,” Glasgow is ground zero for the post-punk revival, and King Tut’s—where Oasis was signed back in 1993—is its CBGB (44-141-221-5279).

(8) Macao, China
Immerse yourself in an old-fashioned gritty gambling den—fast.
Wynn in Macao? Sad but true. The deliciously seedy former Portuguese colony, under Chinese rule since 1999, is morphing into a glitzy Vegas-style mecca, with a Wynn, Venetian, and MGM Grand slated to open by 2007. But for now, the casinos are still smoke-filled, the crowd is still hard-core locals, and you can still feel like a character in a Tom Waits song. Aim straight for Casino Lisboa, a gaudy neon confection topped by an outlandish roulette wheel, on a Saturday evening, and bring cash; the high rollers throw down bills as well as chips.


(9) Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania
Take the secret route to a legendary peak.
Forget the crowded Marangu and Mweka trails of Tanzania’s most majestic peak; ascend instead by the rarely climbed Western Breach Route. It takes an extra two to five days, but the sunrise views from alongside the summit glacier over the African plains and the meditative state of deep isolation will shake up your soul (sixteen-day hikes with Mountain Travel Sobek, from $5,190 per person; 888-687-6235; mtsobek.com).

(10) Gobi Desert, Mongolia
Pretend you’re a mongol warrior.
You haven’t seen a big sky until you’ve loped through the Gobi Desert on a two-humped camel. No power lines, no roads, and very few other people; just 2,000-foot-high sand dunes rippling across the horizon. Go at sunset, when the 54-million-year-old, fossil-filled Gobi-Altai Mountains turn a honey-golden hue you’ll never forget. Return to the Three Camel Lodge “Ger” camp for local vodka on ice, a massage, and a night sky packed with brilliant stars (nomadicexpeditions.com).

(11) Vancouver, Canada
Gorge on superlative Japanese small plates—just across the border.
Vancouver has North America’s highest density of Japanese restaurants, which is why it’s way, way ahead of the rest of the continent when it comes to Nipponese- and Asian-influenced regional cuisine. Right now, enthusiasts are deep into a small-plate frenzy—think Barcelona meets Kyoto, with more rain and a stronger dollar. The nightly trek goes something like this: Tapastree’s (604-606-4680) silky lemon-brandy chicken liver, Lumière Tasting Bar’s (604-739-8185) lush kuri squash and mascarpone ravioli, and Bin 941’s (604-683-1246) dazzling ahi chow mein with pinot gris lime sauce. Those willing to hold out until the wee hours should head for Gyoza King (604-669-8278) after midnight, when off-duty sushi chefs and waiters order the succulent hot dumplings.

(12) St. Petersburg, Russia
Loot czarist treasures—legally.
So what if it’s 20 degrees outside? St. Petersburg’s slightly crumbly romance plays well against steely winter-gray skies, and even its subway (like the palatial Avtovo station seen here) pays homage to the past. And if you crave some of that opulence, the city is an antique-shopper’s paradise. Along Nevsky Prospekt, stores like Nasledie and Russkaya Starina routinely offer 200-year-old samovars, silver from aristocratic families, Vologda lace, and—if you believe the sales pitch—teacups that might have touched Tolstoy’s lips. If you’re not picky about provenance and on a budget, the bustling Udelnaya flea market (open daily; get there early for the best deals) always has porcelain statuettes, rare clocks, and Soviet knickknacks. Be ready to haggle, and check Customs regulations—there are byzantine restrictions.

(13) Savile Row, London
Buy your first bespoke suit.
Of all the bespoke tailors on this legendary street, Kilgour (formerly Kilgour French Stanbury) is the best entry to the world of bespoke. There’s a warm welcome and a staff of 50 tailors to help guide you through the process (allot a few hours to go through thousands of fabric samples). Under the direction of designer Carlo Brandelli, Kilgour’s traditionally lean cuts have gotten even hipper—flat-front pants and slim jackets with constructed shoulders. As for the necessary follow-up fittings, top tailor Ritchie (one name only, please) travels to the U.S. several times a year, so those can be done on your home turf. At $2,650 for an “entry-level bespoke,” it’s a bargain (44-207-734-6905).

(14) Varanasi, India
Stretch your body—and your mind.
There are more obvious Indian yoga meccas than Varanasi—Mysore, for instance, is the home of the Ashtanga system. But if you want to practice your asanas in a truly spiritual atmosphere, you can’t do better than the holiest of holy cities. Hindus believe that those who end their lives in Varanasi will attain instant enlightenment; even if you’re not quite that committed, you’ll at least find bliss. Get a room in the medieval labyrinth that is the old city, looking out on the ancient Ganges, and sign up for yoga classes at the Banaras Hindu University. Or go solo at one of the countless small shrines that dot the riverbank, or at the ghats—huge stone steps leading down to the river, where pilgrims bathe at daybreak, and early-morning meditation is literally sublime.


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