The only quick answer to the bucket list question is exactly what Susan Sontag said in the quote above. Word for word.
I’ve always had a sprinkling of wanderlust in my soul, undoubtedly inspired by my parents, who have only ever needed half an excuse to hit the road in search of adventure and never thought twice about lugging their kids around on whirlwind tours – whether it be of Europe, Namibia or the vast network of roads criss-crossing our country. (Thanks Mom and Dad!)
But I have to say, since I started writing for a travel site almost four years ago, my wanderlust has become an untameable thing: persistent and wild and entirely overwhelming.
A part of my daily routine is dedicated to trawling Instagram for photographs of inspiring places – both far-flung and close-by. And while, sure, you can see many of those very same places in stock images or on other travel sites, there’s something about knowing that an ordinary someone just snapped that shot with their smartphone that inspires me endlessly. It can be done! The world is wide open… and waiting.
So, yes, it’s quite impossible for me to pick only one place for the top of my bucket list. But I’m not going to evade the question, so I’ve narrowed my EVERYWHERE down to four very definite SOMEWHEREs I simply have to see.
I’ve been in love with the idea of India for a long time now and I think it’s a fixation that, no doubt, has its roots in literature. Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children, Kiran Desai’s Inheritance of Loss, Arundhati Roy’s The God of Small Things, yes, also Eat. Pray. Love by Elizabeth Gilbert and, of course, Gregory David Roberts’ semi-autobiographical Shantaram. Since reading all these books, I’ve been fascinated by the contrasts, colours and cultures, the people, the food, the humour. The art, the music. Bollywood. Yoga. Temples. Mumbai, Goa, Jaipur, Lucknow, Darjeeling.
And no, I don’t think I’m going to ‘find’ myself in India. Wouldn’t it just be a tragedy if I went and I wasn’t fully present as I am? I just want to go, because I need to see if the picture I have in my mind is the one that presents itself in the flesh. I guess.
2. The Nordic countries – Norway and Iceland to be specific
Epic landscapes. The Northern Lights. Norse mythology. Trolls. Moomin. Midnight sun. Vikings. Volcanoes. Glaciers. It’s like a different world up there. And until I see it for myself I simply can’t believe it’s quite true.
3. The swing at the end of the world, Ecuador
A photo will have to suffice. But would I be brave enough to do it? That’s another story altogether!
4. Pacific Northwest, US
I never really had a desire to visit the United States when I was younger, because I thought it was all one big fake, plastic, capitalist amusement park. But I guess I was wrong. While the ultimate thing ever would be to do the classic Route 66 road trip in an old convertable, the words Pacific Northwest keep surfacing and carry with them a mystery, an intrigue, a weirdly misplaced nostalgia that draws me in.
Also, photos reveal that there are forests aplenty and lakes on which to row in wooden canoes and vast ocean vistas and campfires and treehouses and totem poles… basically… the epitome of folk band album art. Nothing wrong with that!
Of course there are so many, many more places I want to go, but these spring to mind. And India is non-negotiable! I think it’s time I grabbed my grandfather’s passport and went… Come with me?
*Main photo credit: This pic was taken by Carla Lewis-Baldwin (who now runs Reismier, a really AWESOME Afrikaans travel blog) somewhere in the Dubai desert way back in 2012 when I still had long hair.