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The Follow-Your-Bliss List

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(37) Trastevere, Italy
Get in on the happening Roman art scene.
Imagine Chelsea. Now imagine Chelsea dotted with cypress trees, Vespas, and a gelateria on every other corner. Rome’s contemporary-art scene, anchored by stars like Manfredi Beninati, Micol Assael, Lara Favaretto, and Alberto di Fabio, is taking off—and you’ll find the prices are nowhere near as astronomical as in markets like New York and London (you can get a small Beninati for about 5,000 euros). Start touring after lunch (most galleries are open 3 to 7 p.m.) at Galleria Lorcan O’Neill Roma (1E Via Orti D’Alibert), walk south to Studio Miscetti (14 Via delle Mantellate) and then hit 2RC (15A Via delle Mantellate), Volume! (86-88 Via San Francesco di Sales), and Extraspazio (16A Via San Francesco di Sales). The galleries are small (don’t be afraid to knock loudly if the door’s closed), which means you can browse them all in one day, and go back the next day to buy.

(38) Fox, Alaska
Bow down to the northern lights at a bluesy dive bar.
38 On winter nights, the northern lights set the sky over Fox on fire with shimmering waves of vivid fuchsias, blues, and pinks in a light show that beggars description. It can get a little chilly after a while, though—the temperature hovers around 15 degrees—so make the Howling Dog Saloon (907-456-4695) your home base. The eclectic crowd (geology students, bikers alike) will be drinking Silver Gulch beer (it’s brewed across the street) and—if it’s Wednesday—rocking out to local favorites the Mighty Untouchables. Go before the heavy December snow drifts settle in, and watch out for moose.

(39) Paris, France
Go to Paris for a dance.
39Belgian choreographer Wim Vandekeybus is a towering figure in modern dance, but he rarely brings his troupe to the States. Aficionados should book their tickets now for Puur, his most recent creation, at Paris’s Théâtre de la Ville. Best seats: fifth row, seats 43 to 46. Puur runs from November 29 to December 3.

(40) Chicago, Illinois
Eat the most innovative cuisine in America—really.
No offense to the Windy City, but there’d better be a damn good reason to go there in winter. Here are three: the sushi wrapped in edible paper from former Charlie Trotter’s chef Homaro Cantu at Moto (312-491-0058); the meltingly tender tempura-fried pork belly from French Laundry alumnus Grant Achatz, at Alinea (312-867-0110); and the ostrich with eucalyptus-infused yogurt from Graham Elliot Bowles at Avenues (312-573-6754).

(41) Santiago, Chile
Taste the cutting edge of red wine.
Napa is lovely, and France has tradition on its side, but for sheer romance and drama—and, of course, fascinatingly complex, bravura reds—Chile takes the wine taster’s tour prize. Specifically, the Concha y Toro vineyard (56-2-476-5269), about 45 minutes south of Santiago. Stand on the front porch of the founder’s romantic nineteenth-century wedding cake of a mansion and breathe in the scent of jasmine from the garden (it’s summer there, so all is abloom); then, just as you’re sinking into serenity, turn around and get a jolt from the looming, jagged Andes peaks that form a backdrop. Now you’re ready for your first glass of Casillero del Diablo, made with the Carménère varietal that’s pushing Merlot to the side. Other must-stops: the Colchagua Valley’s Montes (56-2-248-4805), Bisquertt (56-2-946-1540), and Casa Lapostolle (56-2-426-9960).

(42) New Zealand
Ride a horse across Middle Earth.
Visiting New Zealand ranks high on a lot of must-go trip lists; riding across Lord of the Rings territory is an equestrian thrill of a lifetime. On horseback you can trot and canter across surrealistically green sheep-dotted pastures and rocky, vertigo-inducing cliffs that hikers (much less cars) can’t get near. The trip’s highlight: a heart-in-mouth gallop over a 30-mile stretch of hard-packed, uninhabited sand along the North Island’s Kaipara Sound. Experienced riders only; this is no pony ride (equitours.com; 800-545-0019).


Canoe Bay, Wisconsin  

(43) Canoe Bay, Wisconsin
Fight cold with cold.
As romantic as a Vermont country inn can be, why not go someplace really off-the-map, where you won’t be sharing the breakfast room with five other couples from New York? At the rustic-luxe Canoe Bay, tucked away on 280 acres of forested land in northwestern Wisconsin, you’ll have the snowy cross-country trails to yourselves. You can also book in-room, fireside massages and have a private dinner in the resort’s 700-bottle wine cellar. It’s true that nighttime temps often dip below zero, but that’ll only heighten the pleasure of snuggling up in your own secluded cedar cottage in front of the fire with a blanket and a bottle of First Growth Château Haut-Brion (from $325, all-inclusive; 715-924-4594; canoebay.com).

(44) Popokvil, Cambodia
Explore a French ghost town in the jungle.
The ruins of Popokvil atop Bokor Mountain are just as spooky as Angkor Wat, but much less traveled. About 100 miles from Phnom Penh, near the quiet river town of Kampot, a ravaged road leads up through a lush forest to a cloud-shrouded plateau. There, you’ll find the remains of a French colonial-era town—a crumbling post office, an empty Catholic church, and a creepy hotel-casino. After clambering about the ruins all day, sit on the cliff’s edge and watch the sun sink into the Gulf of Thailand below.


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