Where should I go for my Big Four-Oh?


I’m not one of those women who treat their age like some sort of state secret. I don’t get offended if someone asks how old I am, and I certainly don’t lie when answering. I don’t have an issue with aging, per se. Frankly, I look at aging this way: It beats the hell out of the alternative.

Leah 40 Birthday6 Where should I go for my Big Four Oh?Cheers to 40, y’all.

The sun is setting on my third decade. In August of this year, I turn 40. Normally I’m not big on celebrating my birthday–dinner with friends or family, but nothing too elaborate. After turning 16, 18, and 21, I just haven’t seen the point in all the hullabaloo of a massive celebration. However, for some reason 40 feels different. I want to do something sort of epic.

Leah 40 Birthday5 Where should I go for my Big Four Oh?A low-key celebration is more my style, but not this year.

For the last seven or eight years, I have vowed that for my 40th birthday, I’d be at the August 16 running of the Palio in Siena, Italy. This bareback horserace between the city’s contrade has been going on since the 1500s. I’m enamored with the tradition and all the merriment surrounding it. Also, how can you go wrong with Italy? The super Tuscan wines…the Nutella…the homemade pasta…the catcalls…the festivities…it’s enough to make me squeal with delight, and I’m so not that kind of girl.

Leah 40 Birthday1 Where should I go for my Big Four Oh?

I don’t need much for my 40th, but maybe a Cartier tiara or two.

Alas, August is a tough time in Europe for a travel writer, or really anyone for that matter. Since the entire continent goes on vacation during August, availability is low and prices are sky high. To add insult to injury, hoards of people from the rest of the world also descend upon Europe. I’ve not totally abandoned my dream of a Palio party, but I’m also thinking about possible other options. After all, I have a to-do list with 100+ items, many of which still need crossing off.

There’s literally a world of options at my feet. But even with that knowledge, my first instinct is to go back to Paris. I can’t help it. Paris is intoxicating and invigorates me like no place else. I feel a certain connection to the City of Light that I can’t quite explain. If I could, I’d curl up into a ball and live in the arms of Paris for all eternity.

Leah 40 Birthday4 Where should I go for my Big Four Oh?My 39th birthday was spent in Austin with my best friends from college.

Dramatics aside, I really want to keep an open mind when it comes to choosing my 40th birthday itinerary. In order to do that, I thought I’d solicit your advice. Obviously, I’ve not been to every place in the world, nor do I know about everything on earth that’s totally awesome, so your ideas would be extremely helpful.

Leah 40 Birthday3 Where should I go for my Big Four Oh?

Wine and Cuban cigars…sometimes it’s the simple things in life worth celebrating.

I’m open to any continent and almost any country. {I will go ahead and put the kibosh on Somalia before anyone suggests it.} I’m notorious for my hatred of cruises, but I’d even consider that if it were not one of those massive boats with hairy back contests. The trip could focus on food, wine, adventure, beaches, mountains, culture, cities, volunteerism, or any combination. I may take the trip alone, or I may not. Frankly, I don’t want that figured into my decision-making process.

So, what do you think, my fellow wanderlusters? What should I do for my big four-oh?

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