As we sit at home, I suppose it’s natural that I’m thinking more about travel these days. All the places I’ve been. If I’ll be able to go to other places I’ve always wanted to go in the future. I don’t know exactly how this pandemic will change our lives moving forward, but I do know that it will change things. Will we still be able to travel the globe as easily? Will we still want to?
I’m reading some travel writing at the moment, which has probably also spurred these wanderlust thoughts. It’s made me consider those places I’ve visited (both inside and beyond our borders), which have appealed to me the most. Because while there is merit in almost all places: things to do, people to meet, sights to soak up, there are some places you simply connect with more than others. It’s the same with people I suppose.
Here are seven of my favourites:
- Kauai Island, Hawaii. I’m sure you’re heavily influenced by the time in your life that you visit certain places, in terms of how you feel about them forever after. I went to Hawaii age 23, after spending a ski season working in Colorado and then saving every cent (I still can’t ski very well, but that’s a story for another time). Picture a carload of laidback 20-something American surfer dudes, and then three South African gals giggling in the back. We camped on the beach, drank cheap beer, skinny dipped and felt impossibly free. Kauai is one of the less commercial islands of Hawaii – wilder and unstoppably beautiful. It remains in my dreams as a sacred place, an island of youth.
- The Scottish Highlands: Drop the temperature gauge a bit and head over to the motherland, because there is a bit of my heart that belongs in Scotland. My maternal grandmother came from Dundee to South Africa after the war, and there is much of me that reminds me of her. I visited Scotland a few times while I lived in London but it is the Highlands specifically which bewitched me. Again, this is wild land, and extremely mystical.
- Namibia: I’ve only been to Namibia once: we got stranded there because of a problem with our plane, which was supposed to head to Heathrow but got grounded in Windhoek for a night. I remember the way the air felt as we stepped out of the terminal. The ink black of the sky and the bright white of the stars, as our shuttle bus transported us along a road straighter than a queen’s spine towards our strange hotel. I liked the untamed nature of it. The lack of people. The open skies and endless horizons. It is firmly on my list to explore further.
- Berlin: An utterly cool city in which I felt like such a country bumpkin. We feasted on frites and mayonnaise, marvelled at graffiti that were works of art, went to a club in an abandoned warehouse where we swung from giant swings suspended above the crowds. It was crazy, a complete culture shock, and I loved every bit of it.
- The Karoo. Again, not loads of people out here! Ample wildness and space. Quirky one horse towns. Red dust. Heat. Windmills. Survivors and sheep. A beauty some don’t notice or appreciate. This place speaks to me, that’s all that I know.
- Ubud. Hardly original because every second Instagrammer posts images of themselves doing ashtanga in Bali. But they do that for a reason. There is something special about this little village specifically, that instantly leaves you at peace. I dream of returning and living here for a few months at a time, getting better at yoga, drinking tropical smoothies and living an uncluttered life.
- Prague: We visited in a bitterly cold December in our 20s, the three of us. We spent New Years Eve in a club where the theme was Star Wars and people were eating fresh fruit platters and mock fighting with light sabres. A girl with a dark fringe wearing white gloves followed me around everywhere until I had to explain that I wasn’t interested. We walked home giggling in grey light along cobbled streets, and the New Year dawned crisp and bright with possibility.
Those are some just some of the places that have singed memories into my brain. What a gift and a privilege travel is, to see how others live, and then leave a place a little different to how you arrived. I hope I get to travel again, whether this is locally or further afield, and I hope travel companies and the travel industry will survive this pandemic. Everything is changing, including our priorities. Only time will tell.
What are some of the favourite places (in our country and the world) that you’ve visited?
Let’s armchair travel together, just for a little bit:)