2014 was a good year for travelling; I broke away from my standard retreat of skipping off to Berlin for a few days and managed to tick off several previous wish-list destinations. I briefly revisited Paris; drinking on the bank of Canal Saint Martins and in the eclectic surroundings of Le Comptoir General at night, and exploring side streets by day. We then took the TGV to Aix-en-Provence where we ate the best pizza by candlelight when subjected to a power-cut, drove around the surrounding villages and took a day trip to Gorge du Verdon, where we peeked over the edge of the precipice to take in the views and swam in a crystal clear yet freezing cold lake. Next, we headed to Barcelona for four days of debauchery, music and drinking plenty of cava at Primavera festival. Barely a month later, I flew to Budapest where I discovered a collection of down-to-earth bars that fused art and music, and an array of interesting architecture. We then jumped aboard yet another train and headed for Zagreb, where the stifling temperatures saw us retreat to the shore of Lake Jarun; also taking in a day trip to the splendorous Plitvice Lakes. Jump forward four months (dashing through a series of UK-based festivals scattered in diversely stunning locations), and I finally made it to Scandinavia. A short break was just what I needed prior to Christmas, taking in the scenery, architecture, culture, nightlife and food of Copenhagen and Malmo.
Now, I'm making lists of where I would like to visit in 2015. Several of the locations I'm dreaming of stretch far beyond my bank balance, so bear with me as I fuse the realistic with the if-only.
Currently lingering at the top of my list, I feel more and more compelled to visit Iceland as more of my friends return from their own trips to the most extraordinary landscape on earth. This holiday would be all about exploration and photography, documenting every inch of landscape to later pour back over. From Gulfloss waterfall, to the blue lagoon, technicoloured landscapes to paint box hued houses, the chance to spot whales in the ocean to the chance to spot the northern lights in the sky (or experience a day that never ends).
I've been dreaming for several years of road-trippin' up the Californian coast in a camper van, parking up on the side of the road and BBQ-ing each night. Although my dream trip stretches from LA all the way up to my next destination, Vancouver, it's Big Sur that is the most anticipated place for me on this coast of the USA. Dramatic cliff faces, fiercely beautiful seas (again, with the chance of spotting a whale), secluded beaches and wild forests. I imagine that I would fall in love with the scenery and never want to leave.
The number one city on my wish-list isn't even on the list due to the shops, restaurants and bars that I want to visit (although I would spend several days pounding the concrete and exploring the city itself). I'm craving a trip to Vancouver to explore the diverse surrounding landscapes - rainforests, mountains, hot springs and beaches are beckoning. I'm particularly interested in spending time on Vancouver Island (specifically, Tofino) and exploring Grouse mountain.
The taste of this dreamily relaxed region of France is still lingering on my tongue, waiting to be further explored. The dream scenario would involve a large group of friends staying in a somewhat secluded villa within walking distance of the nearest town (Gordes springs to mind as a cliff-top village I would love to visit). We would spend our days walking through lavender fields, picking bunches to decorate the table, climbing up steep paths that lead to quaint villages begging to be explored. On market days, we would load up baskets with fresh fruits, vegetables and cheeses, then return to the villa to put together a huge feast that we would eat al fresco, beside the pool and under the stars.
Dumfries & Galloway
It is going to be my 30th birthday in August this year, and I am looking for somewhere to celebrate not too far from home. Renting a cottage in the area of Dumfries & Galloway in South-West Scotland instantly sprung to mind, as I have always wanted to stay in a Dark Skies National Park and my birthday coincides with the Perseid meteor shower. I am planning the evening of my birthday to be spent outdoors with food and wine, lying back on blankets to watch the meteors. The days will be spent hiking along the coastline, visiting the Garden of Speculation sculpture park and discovering ancient standing stones.
After falling in love with Copenhagen, I have my sights set on the rest of Scandinavia, with Norway's dramatic scenery drawing me in. I would love to fly to Oslo, spend several days exploring the city, then head out into the wilderness to conquer my fear of heights by scaling epic cliff faces in the fjords. I doubt that I'd be able to stand on the Kjerag rock or peer over the edge of Trolltunga, but I would love to discover the setting of one of my favourite films, Trollhunter.
It's probably a bit strange to want to visit a country because you read about a club in an old shoe factory, but this Guardian article that talk about Fluxus Ministerija spurred me on to research the Baltic country. Aside from the huge space that combines art installations, huge music halls and crazy audio-visual installations, I've been plotting to visit the vast national parks, explore the bohemian Uzupis area of Vilnius and brave the intensely creepy hill of crosses.
We were plotting to visit Ljubljana and Lake Bled last summer, but couldn't find cheap flights home. I'm still daydreaming of hiking in the wilderness, rowing a boat across the breath-taking lake, exploring Europe's smallest city and swimming in the Soca river.
Where do you want to visit this year? Let me know what places are on your travel bucket-lists!