So recently I’ve been pining over travel. I used to believe I was one of those people to attend university only to drop out part way for some awesome opportunity and adventure. It turned out that a friend got that whilst I became more the academic, grounded by the heavens to stay in the UK. Don’t get me wrong, I love the UK and I will definitely be writing about staycations and the wonders of home soon enough. Yet I do still want to get away and explore the globe. Here are my top ten (in no particular order) of places I want to go (whether I’ve been there before or not):
1. Rio De Janeiro
There Christ stands, arms wide, welcoming you to a beautiful and colourful part of the world. This little part of South America lures me in with the heat, the culture, the history, and the festivities! The added bonus of natural beauty of creatures and landscapes is bloomin’ brilliant! If I had my way I’d be flying there, arriving to a white yacht sitting in the bay, ready to dance the nights away, journey into the wild a little, visit Christo Redentor, and meet the people who continue to make Rio one of the most famous places on earth. It would make a pretty awesome start to a tour across South America.. yes I said a start! You really think I’d be coming home for a while after this place!
This may sound a little crazy to anyone who has seen the news about the political turmoil in Egypt recently. But you know what? Everyone has been through a pretty rubbish time in Europe recently and if we don’t support the tourism industry it could get much worse. One of the best people I know is from Egypt and if people are even a 1/4 as good as she is – it must be a pretty awesome place. Plus you’ve got history spanning back thousands of years, art which continues to influence technique and style worldwide, and a religious community that are willing to protect anyone from violence of another. This country’s church could teach the rest of world a lot about religious tolerance. I would love to see this northern tip of Africa in its fullest and stand with its people as they try to better themselves for future generations. Plus camels! And the Nile! Dude!
3. The Maldives
There is something stupidly tempting about finding an on-the-beach hut, swimming in clear blue water of the Indian Ocean, eating fresh fruit and fish and just chilling. This is just one of those postcard settings I would love to know was real. I would also, being me, love to find out a little more about the real people living there, rather than just the tourist view. Learning tradition fishing techniques, recipes and folklore would be amazing. Being on this speck of beauty in the garland floating on the ocean – that would be humbling!
4. South Africa
This is a place to which I have been and has held a place in my heart ever since. South Africa has had a tough history, but it has created some of the most beautiful people in the world. The Rainbow Nation is the only one to have museums that had me in tears, made me more passionate about voting than I ever thought I could be, could show me Elephants, Lions and Monkeys not in cages and include me so easily that I felt immediately at home. My last trip took me from Durban to Cape Town over 2 weeks, I’d extend that time again and do the same trip, plus some. The beauty and diversity of the country I travelled through was breathtaking. I would miss so much every time I closed my eyes in the minibus but the content exhausted my potential to take it all in. Whether it be slums reaching the horizon, huts in the wilderness, or the bustling city markets, I loved every minute of it. It was the most emotional trip of my life and I would go back in a second if I could.
This boot of Europe is somewhere which holds a lot of culture in its long piece of land. Within this culture is a well honed knowledge of food, and who doesn’t like food! To sit and eat pasta and pizza from a local eatery, to lick ice cream, to sit in the sun and enjoy the cheeses and mediterranean flavours! To learn from the best and never be able to think of Dominos again! To have gnocchi, not from a supermarket. To knead the bread and laugh with the fiery families of the country. Then there’s Rome, and Milan, a wholly different part of the whole, wandering around places where Roman citizens once walked through, seeing the only building in the world people aren’t annoyed at for being a little wonky, and browsing through shops of world-famous designers… but to be honest, mostly the food! Mmmmmmm..
This is one of those places that I would love to just wander through, not have any particular path, but just walk through the streets, up and down hills, enjoying the art and music and busy-ness of the city. It would probably help that my husband being a techie would be lapping up sights of silicone valley. The views, architecture, and fun of it all would keep me happy. The hub-bub of people trying to get to auditions, make it as artists/singers/musicians/businessmen, would just completely satisfy my people watching capacity, and who knows, it might all give me some inspiration too!
7. Republic of Ireland
Not too far from England’s shores is the Emerald Isle, famous for leprechauns, Guinness, and St Patrick, but to me it holds memories of gorgeous landscapes of sand dunes, traditional gypsy caravans pulled by Shire horses, songs learnt on tin whistles, speeding down hills on bikes, and the traditional folksongs sung by locals in a pub we stopped at once. I have been twice in my life and hope to again very soon. Despite the politics often bandied about the media, the people are good and kind and full of laughter. The countryside is a green not seen anywhere else. The towns are busy and bustling. It probably helped me that they also spoke English. The atmosphere in infectious in the best of ways. It’s not hard to understand why the Irish are loved (and sometimes lusted over) worldwide!
8. New Zealand
So being a little bit of a geek I would love to follow the Hobbits, but actually New Zealand has SO much to offer it’s ridiculous! Ranging from snowy mountain tops to rainforest to beaches to cities it could show you a bit of everything in a pretty short time. Snorkelling along the Great Barrier Reef, water sports such as rafting, or exploring subterranean tunnels, are just too much to pass up. With scenery to die for, thrills like bungee jumping and sky diving to enjoy it that little bit more, and the history and wildlife contained here I don’t know who wouldn’t want to travel half way round the globe to enjoy it. Plus Maori culture, plus volcanoes, plus general awesomeness… and then the scary rugby team! Boom!
Although I have never been skiing I would love to try, plus a bit of snowboarding maybe. The snowy climbs of Switzerland call to those all over the world and it is one of my mums favourite locations having visited as a student. Hiking across the amazingly beautiful scenery as well as visiting some of the best pieces of architecture in Europe, Switzerland would definitely keep me busy (if only singing a little Sound of Music before being gagged by the hubby). Cables cars and traditional trains look like such a great way of travelling the country and to feel the cool fresh air in my lungs would certainly declog any of the UK city pollution from my bones. I also hear they do a very good hot chocolate!
This is a country which has fascinated me for years. Under the control of China it has felt oppressed and the world has pleaded for it. It is the culture, the traditions, the fabrics, colours, and way of life which draws me in though rather than the politics. A strong Buddhist thread running through their landscape is full of their belief, customs and rituals. The prayer flags contrast against the green landscape just as the orange robed monks do against their white temples. This is where many have gone to “find themselves”; that is definitely not my aim, I want to instead find the people within the campaign, find the families and lives, so I may truly know what is so special about this country. It is too tempting to resist so this part of Asia had to be included in my top 10.
There are so many more places, too many to list (I’ve tried), but hopefully one day I’ll be writing from some tent/hotel/caravan/bus seat/plane telling tales of adventures, of people, of life! Where would you go? What are your top ten?