Daydreams of a Traveller

I'm not ashamed to admit that I am a hopeless romantic when it comes to travel. I'm a natural-born explorer; one of those people who enjoys getting up early or staying up late just to see a city in it's 'natural state' - without the noise and the crowds that descend during the daytime. I travel alone, and prefer it that way. Perhaps it sounds antisocial and pretentious, but I like to feel invisible when I go to a new place - and it's easier to do so without a companion who reminds you that you are not from here. I don't go travelling to get a tan, or go shopping, or even relax - for me, the sign of a good trip is to come back more exhausted than when you left! But the point of this post is not to preach - I promise! I thought I'd share some places that I've been dreaming about seeing - or returning to - in the near future. So without further ado, here is my Travel Wish List for 2012-13:

1. New York.

The other day I watched the film adaptation of Jack Kerouac's On The Road. I love the vibe of 1950's and 60's New York - one of my favourite films is Breakfast at Tiffany's, and my favourite author is Truman Capote. I imagine myself wrapped up in a wool coat, making waves through the steam from pot-holes, reading books in a tiny bar and eating a pastrami sandwich wrapped in a brown paper bag. 

2. Petra, Jordan.

This has always been high on my travel to-do list, but I recently stumbled upon a travel guide of the area that reminded me just how much I want to see this place. Being an ancient history freak, I love anything that looks 'undiscovered' and 'Roman' - so this fits the bill. The site of Petra is huge, but a three-day pass to the site is apparently cheaper than buying a 'day trip' ticket... Just imagine yourself exploring these amazing buildings, your head chicly wrapped up in a scarf, your kaftan blowing behind you as you ride a camel or donkey through the orange desert before sleeping under the stars. 

3. Paestum and the island of Ischia (Nr. Naples), Italy.

Climbing on ruins - because you can!
My friend Ed - doesn't he
look straight out of the 50's?

Now I know what I said about travelling alone, but when the opportunity arose to go visit my friend's cousin in Naples, could I really turn it down? My mum first travelled to the South of Italy when she was my age, and I was always captivated by her stories of Paestum - a town that was originally an Ancient Greek colony, absorbed into the Roman Empire, but lay abandoned, forgotten and dormant in a forest until the 19th century. The temples, which are older than the Parthenon and in way better condition, are breathtaking in their size and beauty. The best part? It's not on the tourist trail, so security and social etiquette is at a minimal - meaning that you can really explore the site without fidgeting sheepishly next to a burley security guard.
The Island of Ischia is one of the three islands that lie just off the coast from Naples. Capri is the most famous, but don't let that fool you into thinking it's the best - it's the most crowded, the most spoilt, and the most expensive. Ischia, on the other hand, is heavenly. It's cheap and easy to get to, not overrun by tourists, and still retains that 1950's 'island vibe' with its sun-bleached pastel painted houses, dusty roads and quaint seaside bars full of local fishermen. We rented a gorgeous little motor-boat (€10 each, for three hours) and sailed just round the corner from the harbour to a secluded bay, where the water was an azure blue, and the rocks that lined the bay were at perfect diving-height.

4. Varanasi, India.

India is the land of colour - and who doesn't like colour. For three years now, ever since my friend scrapped our plans for trekking round the country together (starting to understand my penchant for solo-travelling?), I have stared at our plans every day with the promise of one day fulfilling them. Varanasi was the jewel in this trip's crown. Not as hot, crowded and busy as New Delhi, it still has the Ganges - which flows like a vein through the city, giving life to its inhabitants. I want to smell the unfamiliar spices whose colours match the houses, trail my hand through the Ganges while gliding on a little boat, and watch the sun set from a window high up above.

5. Pyramids of Giza & The Temple of Hatshepsut, Egypt.

Because who doesn't want to see these. Seriously.

6. Rome, Italy.

The sun rising on a deserted St Peter's Square
I bloody love Rome. If I could be from anywhere, I would be from here. Its people fascinate me: they live like there is no tomorrow, while walking amongst millenniums of history; they drive with no regard for anyone, en route to a long lunch with their family and friends; are smart enough to fleece the obvious tourists but dumb enough to follow that gorgeous, but totally uninterested, girl around all night. Its a city of passionate contradictions - from the people to the food to the architecture, and everything in between. For the best experience of Rome, GET UP EARLY. I cannot stress this enough. One of the most memorable moments of my life was walking into St Peter's Square (for those who have been to Rome, it is usually unbearably crowded and packed with tourists) and being completely alone. Seriously, not a soul in site. It was like a scene from 28 Days Later; everyone had caught some fatal disease overnight and I was the only person left alive. Definitely worth experiencing. Another tip: don't take the metro, walk instead. You get a way better feel of how the city is laid out, plus you see things that you wouldn't if you're on a sweaty metro carriage underground. 

What's on your travel wishlist?

Belle x

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