(This should have been up on friday but life happened! Sorry for that!)
You probably understood by now that I LOVE to travel. The things you see, the permanent change of scenery, the excitement of the unknown, how much you learn! About countries, cities, history, geography and yourself, your friends, your partner, your life. And as very well travelled dutch man we once met on a train said "travelling is also a re-appreciation of home" (we were sharing a small cabin between 3 men and myself during 2 days). Your bed, your books, clean clothes, running water and a fridge - this always seems paradise after you're away for some time.
I'm sure you don't need me to convince you to travel so I'll head to today's topic. I treasure each trip I have made and they were all great and special, so was a bit hard to choose only five amazing places... but this is what my heart told me:
1. Atacama Desert, Chile
Stuck in the north of the possibly longest country in the world (at least of the funniest shapes) lies an amazing landscape of name Atacama Desert. It is said to be the driest place on earth but don't fool yourself to think it's a long and boring landscape. You can loose yourself in the immense white landscape of the salar, gaze at flamingos, watch the earth explode in geysers, believe you traveled to the moon, float like in the red sea or indulge yourself in hot springs...
2. Sarajevo, Bosnia
I was taken by surprise with Sarajevo but honestly I didn't know what to expect. Home to horrible events that took place not so long ago, today Sarajevo felt like a vibrant city, full of energy and optimism, more than ready to move on from the terrible war. They say Istanbul is the gate to Asia, but I believe Sarajevo comes first. The mix of cultures, religions, traditions all converging in one place it's truly amazing and makes for such a rich and interesting place. After all, where else in the world can you find a mosque, an orthodox church, a roman catholic church and a synagogue all in the same neighborhood?
3. Transiberian railway, Russia
Fact: You can stay seven days in a train and you never leave a country. Russia's size is simply mind blowing. For years I treasured the idea of entering a train in Moscow and travel for days crossing the steppes, whatever that was, but never thought that I would actually do it. So when we entered the train last year I was out of myself. Although we visited truly beautiful places during the journey I was really in love with the train itself (or trains as we changed a few times). It's a whole microcosms with its shared cabins, the provodnitsas (cabin attendants), the reliable samovar always providing hot water for coffees and teas, and lots and lots of time while you cross those steppes.
Here's a very useful guide if you want to do this amazing journey.
4. Houshi Onsen, Japan
It takes a train and two buses to get there from Tokyo. I remember waiting for the second bus alone literally in the middle of nowhere in Gunma prefecture and wondering "What the hell am I doing here?". I sudden realized that the bus might never come, I had only received a "tip" from some another bus driver (pointing and pushing me out of his bus as he couldn't speak english and I couldn't speak japanese) that at that middle of nowhere stop another bus would come and take me to the most beautiful onsen I was about to see. It was cloudy and rainy and I was having lots of doubts. But then the bus arrived and took me to the most beautiful onsen I had ever been and probably will ever be.
Disclaimer: I am crazy for hot springs and even did a research about it.
5. Costa Alentejana, Portugal
An exotic place is a foreign, usually far away place. We are attracted by the unknown, the distant, the exotic and we usually neglect our hometowns, our countries, we just take them for granted and, if you're a portuguese, complain about it the whole time. I first realized I was coming from an "exotic" country when living in Norway. People I met, when I told them where I was from, would tell me how exotic Portugal sounded. I was confused, I had chosen to live in Norway because it was exotic, Portugal was boring and uninteresting! Ah, but not for them, these people had never been there or the ones that had recalled a totally different country from my experience. But knowing another country is also an opportunity for some comparison and, as everything in life, no country is perfect so travelling IS a re-appreciation of home, and re-appreciation of the beauty of your own country.
Long story to tell you that portuguese south west coast is simply amazing. Small sandy beaches, enclosed by cliffs, small villages with good fish, amazing scenery and that endless summer feeling.
So what amazing places have YOU been that you want to share?
This is the last post of this #travel week. Hope you enjoyed it!