Image by Ingolfur Bjargdmunsson.
A while ago I wrote a blog post about the five places I dream about travelling to in the UK. I was approached by a company who asked me to dream some more. Here are the five places I’d like to visit outside the UK.
Image by Edwin de Jongh.
A lot of the places I want to see in the world have been planted in my imagination by books. I first wanted to go to Morocco after reading Esther Freud’s Hideous Kinky – where a hippie mum of two leaves London on a road trip to Morocco with her two young daughters. It’s set in the 70s. There are kaftans, men with long hair and adventures. It’s a good book.
Recently I’ve been reading Anais Nin’s amazing diaries and in her second one she writes about visiting Fatima, the queen of the prostitutes, in Fez in the 1930s.
Fatima had a beautiful face, straight patrician nose, enormous black velvet eyes, tawny smooth skin, full but firm … She could only move with difficulty on her enormous legs. She was both queenly and magnificent, opulent and voluptuous.
She sat among pillows in a room shaped like many bedrooms in Fez, long and narrow. At each end of the room she had a brass bed, a sign of luxury and success. They are not used as beds, they are only a symbol of wealth. In between the two brass beds lay all the pillows, rugs, and low divans. Fatima not only collected brass beds but also cuckoo clocks from Switzerland. One wall was covered with them, each one telling a different time … The atmosphere was heavy with perfume, enclosed and voluptuous, the womb itself.
Fez is a drug. It enmeshes you. The life of the senses, of poetry … of illusion and dream. It made me passionate, just to sit there on pillows, with music, the birds, the fountains, the infinite beauty of mosaic designs, the teakettle singing, the many copper trays shining, the twelve bottles of rose perfume and the sandalwood smoking in the brazier, and the cuckoo clocks chiming in disunion, as they pleased.
I know Anais Nin has a sensual way of writing about things, but oh I would love to visit a surreal and magical place like the one she describes. Morocco and Fez have probably changed a lot since she visited, but the winding, narrows streets are still there, so are the colours, the sounds, the smells, the market places. I would like to see the vividness, the magic, the cacophony of life that exists in a place like that.
And I’m also a bit of a hippie. I dream about going to Morocco because it seems like the right thing to do. Is it too much of a cliché to want to go there in an old Volkswagen bus, wearing long skirts, lots of jangly jewellery and never brushing my hair? Probably.
For a long time I was a bit skeptical about Greece. I looked at pictures and thought – the sky is just too blue, the sea is too pure, the whites are too white. Can this place really be possible? Would it not hurt your eyes? Is it actually just photoshopped? It somehow looked too perfect.
I tend to prefer grey northern coasts, storms and angry dark waves. Greece just seemed too pleasant. Recently I’ve started to change my mind. And it all started with the food. By reading different blogs and listening to friends it slowly dawned on me that Greece is a good place to find excellent, fresh food. Wine made locally, olives picked from the trees, fresh salads, fresh cheese. It’s making me hungry just to think about it.
Sarah Wilson wrote about Ikaria, a Greek island where the inhabitants live for an unusually long time because they have a healthy diet and a healthy family-focused lifestyle. Suddenly the beauty of Greece didn’t seem so intimidating anymore. It seemed inviting. And I now keep dreaming about a spontaneous trip to one of the Greek island.
I dream of finding a cheap flight on a late night browsing binge, everyday stress looming over my head, a cup of tea going cold next to me. But there is that deal for a weekend, the thought “fuck it” and then there you are a couple of days later, eating healthy food, walking and writing.
Photo by Jerry Law.
Where to start? The people, the food, the wine, the sea, the tiles(!) and interesting cities. It’s only a short flight away from London. I can’t believe I’ve not been to Portugal yet.
When I was blogging in my teens I got to know a few people from there and I’ve kept following them online since. The photos they post from their home country are always stunning. I would love to see Lisbon and I would love to see the coast. I think Portuguese is an amazingly beautiful language, it sounds like a song. One day, when I want to go somewhere to just have fun, to rest, to eat. This is where I’ll go.
I know the previous three places are all warm and sunny – but I’ve always felt even more attracted to northern places. I’ve been through Iceland while flying to New York, but sitting in an airport eating Skyr doesn’t really count.
There are so many places I would like to see. The lagoons, the geysers, the coast line, the barren volcanic landscape. I love that there are still people in this country who think about asking the elves for permission before building a road.
Their political life sound quite interesting and forward-thinking. Reykjavik looks like the perfect Nordic city. I imagine it as a mix of everything that is great in all the other Nordic capitals. I imagine the Icelandic people would know how to throw a pretty good party. This is one of the first places I would go if I had a spare week and some extra cash.
Image via tumblr.
I have written about this place before. I don’t really have a bucket list, but this is definitely one of the places I would like to set foot on in my life. It’s about as far north you can go without being a full on arctic explorer. You can stay in hotels and live pretty comfortably, which is great since I’m not very good at camping. There is an abandoned Soviet mining town. There are polar bears and seabirds and whales. If I was a better photographer I would apply for grants and spend a couple of months taking photos of the changing sky, the water, the ice. That would be a pretty nice way to live.
If you don’t want to put together your own travel plan, companies like First Choice offer cheap package holidays. Although I’m too stressed to start browsing for last minute deals at the moment. That’s a bad excuse right?
This post has been contributed to by First Choice.