So many places, so little time: the traveller’s eternal dilemma.
In our time-pressed digital era, it’s no wonder the concept of asking a set number of specific ‘getting to know you’ questions has been all the rage in pop psychology lately. I thought it’d be fun (if self-indulgent!) to do a traveller’s version, to get the introductions out of the way for those who want to know more than the basics about me.
Without any further ado, here is my travelling life so far — magical memories and mishaps alike — summed up in answers to 12 questions. Featuring creepy catacombs, Tasmanian devils, and unredeemed Premier League tickets.
Favourite places (so far):
Rome — hands, shoulders, knees and toes down. I also particularly love Berlin, London, Chiang Mai, Taipei’s Ximending district, Norfolk Island, Sicily, Tasmania, and Seydisfjordur in Iceland.
Favourite travel memory:
Tough! (As though I didn’t write the question.) A cop-out tie between:
- a midnight-to-dawn hike up a sacred mountain in Sri Lanka, Sri Pada, alongside tens of thousands of pilgrims;
- a 10-day road trip around Iceland featuring glaciers, geysers, geothermal pools and all-round WTF-level amazing scenery;
- exploring a succession of increasingly stunning southern Italian islands with my mamma for her birthday; and
- the Tarkine in Tasmania. A less glamorous contender, sure, but long walks around this incredibly verdant rainforest with my partner shortly before he underwent brain surgery remain etched in my memory.
Least favourite places (so far):
I hope to be proven wrong some day but so far the Gold Coast and Adelaide.
Least favourite travel memory:
I’m privileged enough to have never felt particularly unsafe when travelling, thankfully, so my worst is a thoroughly first world problem of flight cancellations, delays and mishaps, the most frustrating being when said delay cost me Premier League tickets to a Chelsea vs Arsenal match. They were great, centre-field seats, and my dad’s birthday present. Minor, I know, but still sorta hurts.
#1 underrated place:
Norfolk Island — oozing with history, gorgeous beaches and scenery, and locals so warm, down-to-earth and occasionally endearingly quirky that to obey the cliché of ‘ssh, keep this hidden gem to yourself’ would be downright selfish.
I realise I’m cheating here, but can’t not also add: Taiwan!
#1 overrated place:
Might cop some flak here but Paris disappointed me personally. I blame the hype. But the French I found polite and helpful, contrary to the stereotypes.
#1 travel mishap:
Spending several hours accidentally locked in the musty-smelling crypt of a 16th-century abbey in Italy, shortly after hearing about the creepy goings-on there (spoiler alert: mummified corpses are involved). It was funny at first, then scary… now funny again.
#1 travel find:
*Toots own horn* I like to think I have a knack for finding quirky, ‘off-the-beaten-track’ lodgings, and my favourite so far has been a private nature reserve where wild Tasmanian devils and other native critters come and feed at your doorstep at night — a wildlife lover’s DREAM. That or a semi-exposed treehouse in the jungle in Sri Lanka where we went to sleep in the treetops under the flicker of fireflies (at least until it rained!).
That or the time I stayed in a surprisingly affordable palazzo in central Palermo, a short walk from the Duomo, run by an actual count.
#1 source of traveller’s frustration:
When people don’t think through the consequences of where their tourist dollars are going, or the cultural or political sensitivities of where they’re travelling. Ignorance, in short.
Biggest travel regret:
Not getting to see the most colourful sections of the Great Barrier Reef pre-bleaching.
Top wishlist destination:
Easy: Madagascar. And the entire Kimberley region, top to bottom and inside out.
Also Utah, Ethiopia, Slovenia, Georgia, Japan, Albania, Iran, Poland, Venezuela, Iceland again in summer and/or winter, and Rome again and again, any damn time.
Eurocco 2017! Can’t wait. Mainland Greece, Morocco, central Italy and a teensy bit of Belgium are on the cards. (Drop a line if you’ve got any tips on hidden gems to look out for.)
Domestically, I finally made it to Cradle Mountain a few months back but I’m hoping to go back to Tassie for the fourth time this December — love the place.
Your turn! What are your favourite and least favourite places (so far)? Any dream destinations you’re particularly desperate to see? And your worst travel mishaps?