Have you ever thought about that one place you would immediately jet off to if you were about to literally ‘kick the bucket’?
Are you dreaming of bathing on a white sandy beach or roaming the streets at night in a bustling city? Yes, me too. Why not start early – you aren’t getting any younger and the world is filled with adventure and beauty waiting to be discovered. I cannot name all of the endless possibilities but I have managed to narrow it down just to 10:
1. Iceland – It may not be the warmest of places, but do not let that stop you from enjoying a long weekend here. It has been at the top of my list for several reasons. Firstly, you have the Northern Lights; Iceland is one of the prime places to view the natural phenomenon. I very rarely have the chance to see the stars, I have dreamed for years of being able to visit a destination with no light pollution and lie on my back and watch as the world goes by. The Blue Lagoon is another favourite tourist boast about, with one of the most epic outdoor swimming pools. So if you are feeling cold you may want to jump in with water around 37-39°C.
2. Tahiti – An Island in the French Polynesia where there are over 100 Islands that offers you an alternative to Bora Bora. I would be sure to do some island hopping if I ever make it to that side of the World. Whether you want to relax on the idyllic beaches or take up a Tahitian dance class to snorkelling there is something for everyone. I have always been interested in the culture, the Islands were first inhabited around 500BC and these were later rediscovered around the 16th century and colonised by France. The Polynesians hold a philosophy ‘aita pea pea’ meaning not to worry which is a big part of the Tahitian Lifestyle and what appeals to me the most.
3. Cartagena, Colombia seems to be a very colourful city with a historical past. The Cartagena old town is a Unesco World heritage site on the southern coast of the Caribbean Sea. The old Spanish colonial style buildings are one of the main reasons to visit especially if you are studying architecture. If that doesn’t attract your attention, then maybe the food will! Arroz con coco (coconut rice) is a must and if sea food is your favourite you may be inclined to try Pargo Frito (fried snapper) which is a very famous traditional dish. I hope to one day backpack South America, in which Colombia will be at the top of my list.
4. Nablus, Palestine. You may be thinking; isn’t that dangerous? I assure you it was the highlight of my trip to the West Bank and one I can happily tick off my list. Crossing the wall may not be the easiest adventure but it is certainly eye opening. Situated 30 miles north of Jerusalem, Nablus is rich in culture. I only had a day to visit, we travelled to a skate park my cousin helped build through a charity and local organisation to see what had become of it. A mere 5000 people live here in the village with the project only commencing in 2017, but they have managed to build another skate park in another region too. The market in Nablus is out of this world and there was not another tourist in sight! We tried the famous Kanaefeh a traditional Arabic dessert which is cheese based. The falafel is nothing close to what you can buy out of the supermarket – I have since successfully made it once with the help of my Palestinian family member.
5. Hanoi, Vietnam is one of my favourite cities this year as I explored South East Asia for two and a half months. One of the more popular cities to live and teach English in if you are a foreigner, which I highly recommend. Enjoy the chaos of the city as I did, you can download an app called Grab which is basically the same as uber except you can hire a motorbike taxi instead! The price is so cheap I even rode it to the cinema which was scenic in itself. There are lots of museums, street food stands and even a lake on offer and if that isn’t enough you can go shopping and spend money on high end trainers for a fraction of the price back home. Hanoi is a great stop between the mountains of Sapa and the famous Ha Long Bay is where some parts of Pirates of The Caribbean were filmed.
6. Tokyo, Japan, the place every backpacker was seemingly heading to whilst I was on my trip. It’s not the best destination if you are on a tight budget, but I assure you it will not disappoint. The robot restaurant is within the red light district that “never sleeps” a totally unique experience that all of your friends will be jealous of. Ever played Super Mario? Well, you can drive around the city dressed like one of the characters – even Jenson Button was spotted having a go! If taking pictures for Instagram is up your street then head to Shibuya crossing, famous for being the busiest crossing in the world.
7. Los Angeles, California is another destination that I hope to visit within the next year or two. The beaches and city lifestyle are what attract me to go, along with a year round warm climate. I might even be inclined to never want to leave should I visit. Venice beach is one of the most popular to head to, but there is always Santa Monica and Malibu if you are able to drive. There are many hikes and biking opportunities for the outdoor enthusiasts with rewarding views. L.A has everything from shopping, night life to a variation of food.
8. Verona, Italy was the setting for Shakespeare’s ‘Romeo and Juliet’. If romance is on the cards for you, I suggest you head here, the flight is much shorter than other such destinations. Every year around half a million people visit the courtyard where Juliet supposedly lived and write love notes just as Amanda Seyfried did in the film ‘letters to Juliet’. Verona is a short drive away from Venice so if you do not have much time you are able to squeeze quite a lot into a day. Verona seems to be a very beautiful, romantic place to go which is why it has made the list.
9. Havana, Cuba – aka the main theme in Camila Cabello’s song ‘Havana’. Another personal favourite of mine that I visited in 2010 with family, I highly recommend visiting sooner rather than later. I was worried for a while that the negotiations between the U.S and Cuba meant that big corporations would start their attack on the country to expand and ruin the unspoiled beauty. However, that does not seem to have happened yet which means there is still time. Havana, the capital is like stepping back in time, with old cars and buildings which make you feel like you are in the 1950’s. I was stunned by Cuba’s beauty, pristine beaches and interestingly enough the cigar industry.
10. Agra, India is home to the Taj Mahal. Around 200km from the capital city, New Delhi. Home to one of the seven wonders of the world, there is no doubt about why it made the list. There is more to Agra than just the Taj Mahal, you can visit lavish gardens or head to a city within a fortress dating back to the Mughal Empire. My main reason for picking somewhere in India is because of my love for Indian food. As I am vegetarian, some destinations can be hard to find meals I can eat. I have never had a problem with Indian food – in fact, they have many vegetarian options. A local dish called ‘Parantha’ is similar to a chapatti but is filled with vegetables and various other ingredients to give it flavour. If, like me, you have a sweet tooth then ‘Petha’ is the one for you. It is a translucent or white colour and can be made in many diverse ways.
By Abi Trunk