I’ve been reflecting on my year so far. Can you believe that we are already six months into 2017? I feel like I’ve achieved a lot in that time. I’ve been to New York, Rome, Las Vegas and Bali and I’ve even snuck in a few local weekends away in Warwick and Brighton. That averages out to one place each month and yet I am still desperate to see other dream destinations. Travel is an itch that you can never quite scratch. There is always another culture to experience, new food to try and a new way of life waiting to immerse you.
Here are the big 5 that I would love to see this year:
I have wanted to go to New Orleans for two years and it’s still not happened. There are two times of year that I would love to visit this pulsing city, the first being Mardis Gras (which typically falls in February or March) and the second being Halloween.
Mardis Gras is notorious for being a time of year that draws partiers from all corners of America to celebrate with a huge carnival. Halloween, by contrast, would lend an eerie, surreal factor to the trip that I think would make it more memorable. I’m a huge fan of Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles and Anne formally lived in a hauntingly gothic Victorian house in the Garden District. New Orleans is the world of her books, in which her navel-gazing vampires explore the world seeking victims and flirting with the idea of becoming rock stars.
Another story that piques my interest in New Orleans is Pretty Baby starring a wide-eyed Brooke Shields as a young girl raised in a brothel. Shot inside the Columns Hotel, I would love to stay here for a night and sample their Pretty Baby Cocktail.
There’s something about the accents, the food, the charming architecture and the sultry heat that does something to bring the city to life in an enchanting way. Beyond the obvious New Orleans (Bourbon Street, the Garden District and the French Quarter), there are plantations and gaping antebellum homes and lazy swamps to explore.
A city of bizarre decadence, there’s lots worth exploring here and its not like anywhere else in America.
When I picture Peru, I imagine dark, tangled jungles bursting with exotic animals, poisonous plants and secluded native tribes. There’s something about Peru that feels dangerous and inviting all at ones. My inner explorer just wants to run loose and see what I might find here.
The jewel of Peru is the stretch of Amazon river that runs through it as well as the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu, a maze of Peru’s past. Perhaps disturbingly to some, what first enraptured me about Peru were a spate of cannibalistic 80s movies that film close to the Amazon. The land seemed like a sprawling, heaving beast that could surprise and shock.
Most places and paths feel well-worn by now, as year after year travellers embark on the same tried and tested routes. Perhaps I’m being naïve in thinking that Peru is an exception but it seems as though it would be.
Africa is a huge draw thanks to its unique wildlife but the continent is huge and if I had to drill down, I’d probably pick Kenya as one of my go-to countries, although Botswana and Rwanda rate highly too. A safari remains one of the things that I just have to do this lifetime. Everyone that I’ve met who has ever completed a safari simply raves about it endlessly.
Kenya houses the Maasai Mara, an area prolific for wildebeest migration as well as gorgeous national parks such as Amboseli and Tsavo. Animals always feature prevalently for me when it comes to planning a trip. My first volunteering adventure involved elephants, sun bears and a tiger and Kenya boasts a plentiful supply of lions, cheetahs, baboons and hippos.
The legendary big five are the lion, elephant, Cape buffalo, African leopard and rhinoceros. Although the term was previously coined to capture the five most difficult African animals to hunt on foot, nowadays it represents the animals that tourists most want to see.
Ah, La La Land, city where dreams are born and dashed. Los Angeles is a paradoxical city. It’s glamorous and gritty, shallow and surprising, beautiful and bored, illusory and tangible, real and constructed and full of the stories of countless stars and celebrities who shot to fame in the city of angels. This is a place that will chew you up with glee before spitting you out. It’s home to the Hollywood sign and walk of fame. You might even see a few celebrities wandering around Beverley Hills. I suppose, even in this age of social media and 24-7 news, LA still feels like the place where it all happens. It’s the place where people go to be somebody.
Getting to LA would be like peeking behind the curtain in the Wizard of Oz. Let’s see how it works and find out what’s really going on in this elusive, charismatic and brutal city where hopes are dashed daily.
Doesn’t everyone dream of a place that isn’t quite like anywhere else on earth? For me, Madagascar fits the bill. The country itself brims with rainforests, reefs and beautiful beaches but again what excites me the most is its vast and thriving animal population. Here you can see animals that don’t exist naturally anywhere else on earth.
Can you imagine the first explorer to see these creatures for the first time? What might they have thought of the lemur, the blue coua and the panther chameleon? Although Madagascar is about the size of France, it’s biodiversity is incredible. Visiting Madagascar is like travelling to several countries at once. For city slickers, there’s also the hard-to-pronounce Antananarivo, a modern metropolis peppered with colourful houses.
So, these are my big 5, but which 5 countries or travel experiences dominate your dreams? You might give me ideas…
All my love