January is always a time for making plans, and my plans tend to revolve around travel. I’m lucky enough to journey abroad often – partly because of my day job with i-escape.com, and partly because I can’t imagine going any length of time without feeling the call of somewhere new.
Some of my adventures for this year have already been booked, others are just beginning to take shape, but I couldn’t resist sharing a round-up of the places that are currently inspiring my wanderlust. I certainly won’t have the time or money to cover all of the below this year or even next, but I can always dream…
I’ve been longing to visit Iceland for years, and in 25 days (not that I’m counting) I’m finally going! I can’t wait to explore the steaming geysers, black-sand beaches and tumbling waterfalls, and to see the Northern Lights dance overhead. I’m not the only one, either – Iceland’s popularity is booming, with new air routes (the latest with low-cost airline WOW) and hotels springing up all the time. We’re flying into Reykjavik and taking a road trip around the south of the country, but I was intrigued to discover that there are now also direct flights to the wilder eastern flank with Discover the World, making the land of ice and fire more accessible than ever before.
Photograph (and top image) by Tec Pataja
I’m proudly part Canadian, and one of the best experiences of my life was travelling from Toronto to Vancouver by rail, in the footprints (or should I say tracks?) of my great-grandfather, who worked on the line in the 1920s. It was a spectacular journey – five days and four nights on a sleeper train, with nothing to do other than sit back and gaze at the snowy prairies, frozen rivers and soaring mountains speeding past the window. My brother now lives in Canada and, as some of those new flights to Iceland provide cheap connections on to North America, it’s high time I arranged another trip…
Photograph by Abi Dare
Antwerp somehow manages to be under-the-radar yet perennially cool. It’s packed with boutiques, restaurants and flea markets, and it has some beautiful hotels and apartments to boot. I’ve actually been there before, but I was 16 and travelling with my Dad – time to return as an adult, I think!
Photograph by Rich Stapleton for Cereal magazine
I already have plans to return to my old favourites Denmark and Sweden later this year, but I’m also longing to explore Finland – the only Nordic country I have yet to visit. I’d love to spend a couple of weeks taking in the cafés and culture of Helsinki, the silent lakes and birch forests of the centre, and the vast, empty wilderness of the far north.
Photograph via fulldose.net
Santorini tops my wish-list of sunny spots. I’ve been inspired by the stunning photography of Sara Medina Lind, who captures the magical light, the sparkling white walls, and the vast blue of the caldera.
Photograph by Sara Medina Lind
Spain feels like a second home to me – I spent a very happy year living in Barcelona as a student, and I’ve travelled through Andalucia, Catalonia, the Balearics and more. Next time I visit I’d like to see the northwest: the wild cliffs and green hills of the Basque Country, the restaurants and beaches of San Sebastián (joint European Capital of Culture for 2016), the rolling winelands of Navarra… I’d also love to spend some time at stunning design hotel Aire de Bardenas (pictured above), which sits in the barren, moon-like desert of the Bardenas Reales National Park.
Photograph by Aire de Bardenas
I’ve been to Venice before but I made the mistake of visiting during July, when the city was stiflingly hot and swarming with cruise-ship parties. I’d love to return in winter, when mist rolls in across the lagoon and the acqua alta floods St Mark’s Square. I hope I get the chance one day soon, but until then I’ll satisfy myself with gazing at the beautiful photography of Venice resident Skye McAlpine.
Photograph by Skye McAlpine
If I was planning a once-in-a-lifetime trip, this is the destination I’d choose. I’d travel the entire length of the country, taking in the flamingo-filled lagoons of the Atacama Desert, the steep jumble of streets in colourful Valparaíso (which features in one of my favourite novels, Daughter of Fortune by Chilean author Isabel Allende), and the glaciers of Patagonia. And of course I’d sample some of the wine along the way!
Photograph via edreams.com
How about you? Where are you longing to explore over the coming year?