Posts Tagged ‘Travelling’

Snow is falling outside, I’m polishing off my hot-cross-bun breakfast and booting up my laptop to start thinking about my work day ahead. So, before I get on with that serious stuff, I’m returning to some unfinished business… finishing my review of the Rough Guide bucket list!! So here we go…

  1. Witness Tibet’s true spirit

    I know Tibet is a magical place. I know this and I’ve never been. I feel drawn there and know that I need to go so, as I’m sure it’s becomming more spoilt by the second. There’s something about the place that intimidates me a little. Perhaps it’s the feeling that if I go there, I’ll never want to come home, or never feel the same way about big bustling cities and western life ever again. True spirit, oh yes…

  2. Hike in Brazil’s Chapada Diamantina

    Brazil is absolutely on the list. My idea of Brazil is more beaches, favelas, dancing, waterfalls. I once had to make the decision about South America – East or West Coast. It came down to Peru versus Brazil. On the one hand it was sunshine, beaches, parties, living life to the full, on the other was adventure, achievement (Inca Trail), an authentic South America (not that Brazil isn’t authentic) and visiting one of the most mystical places on Earth (Machu..). After a lot of deliberation, I chose Peru (and did not regret it). So I feel I have unfinished business with Brazil. I’m also becomming more appreciative of hiking. Hiking is something I always thought was reserved for strapping Scandanavians or fresh-air thirsty Canadians, not indoorsy Brits like me… but as I get older I really appreciate being out in the wilderness, soaking up the horizon and immersing myself in the landscape. So, yes, I’d be willing to entertain this one, so long as I have a Caipirinha and samba sesh the following day!

  3. Sleep wild in central Sweden

    I may get a chance this year – I’m attending a wedding at Midsummer, and we don’t have accomodation booked! Love camping, and love Sweden, so yeah, alright then.

  4. Stay in a Japanese capsule hotel

    Is it weird that I (seriously) have wanted to do this ever since I saw it on telly a few years ago? Bonkers, completely mad. Japan is on the list in general. I am fascinated, and this is one of many things that I’m sure will make my eyes pop out on stalks. Jeeesh, if I ever got my feet to Japan, I would have sooooo much blog-fooder my laptop would explode.
    I think they have these kind of pods at some airports now. Possibly even in the UK. So I may get to experience it closer to home (Japan IS a hike..). It looks hillarious though, like curling up for a snooze in a filing cabinet.

  5. Sleep beneath the stars in the Sahara Desert

    Have I done this? Hmmm. I don’t think so. Come to think of it have I even been to the Sahara. It’s one of those familiar places but I’m not even sure I have. I’ve ridden camels in Sahara sand (Gran Canaria), been to Egypt, but I didn’t make it to the desert. I’ve also slept beneath the stars in other places (Wadi Rum, Yosemite…). This needs to happen at some point!

  6. Swim with pink river dolphins

    When I was flipping through this bucket list, THIS was the one that made me click on the info button to find out – WHERE CAN I DO THIS?!?! It’s the Bolivian Amazon (of course), which feels very remote. Perhaps one of my regrets (don’t really believe in regrets but..) was that when I did my trip to Peru and Bolivia that I didn’t make it to the Amazon. The Amazon is in the bucket, what a mad and wonderful place. Swimming with dolphins would be the cherry on the cake. But unlike the Rough Guides, I’d be happy to do it at SeaWorld…

  7. Take the kids to Tobermory, The Isle of Mull

    This looks pretty. It looks a bit like Bergen in Norway. I know Mull is stunning, my mum and dad took a trip there a while ago and I was taken aback at the photos – a beautiful wilderness with turquoise water. One day, when I have kids (or borrow someone elses), I’ll take them there.

  8. Visit North Korea

    YES. I went to South Korea last April, which was a blast. I absolutely loved it and was completely suprised at how interesting it was. When in South Korea I took a trip to the border (and actually stepped over the border at the DMZ, so technically I HAVE done this already!!) and I met a guy who had taken a trip to North Korea – it sounded fascinating. He had to go in with a tour group, I don’t think everyone is allowed (some nationalitites are banned) and he was sure that they bugged his room, always asking questions). It sounded like something out of a spy movie. They also played propogada videos to him about the prosperity and so on in the North (in the same way they play propoganda to you in the South on the DMZ). Anyway, it was so interesting and my friend and I were plotting how we could work in a trip to North Korea in the future.

  9. Watch ballet in Cuba

    I just want to go to Cuba. I don’t think I’d have enough time to watch ballet, there’s so much other stuff I’d need to be getting on with. Beaches, Havana, 50s cars, cigar rolling, rumba, and just watching life there.. amazing. On. The. List.

  10. Visit Tikal in Guatemala

    Tick. I went to Tikal in 2001 and it felt like the biggest adventure of my life (it was back then). This was real Indiana Jones stuff. Looking back I think it was difficult to get there, which was part of the adventure, and we were able to walk all over the ruins, climbing those craggy rough steep steps up and up, getting breathless and popping our heads out at the top to get a view over the jungle canopy and meeting strange animals (cotimundis) on the ruins. I want to say that everyone should go here as it’s very special and part of what travelling is all about, but I don’t want everyone to go there because it is so special. I don’t want to imagine tourists with their big cameras and bright shirts crawling over those cracking steps!

  11. Tour the bodegas of Mendoza

    I once had a spanish teacher who told me Argentina is the three Bs – bueno, barato and bonito – good, cheap and beautiful (or something like that, my spanish never was that good). ANYWAY it made an impression and ever since I’ve had it on my list. My cousin now lives there with his wife and children and asks me to visit, so really have no excuse now (and I don’t want to make excuses). I think Argentina tops Brazil by a hair, and of course the vineyards would be a must, once I get there!

So, that’s it, the Rough Guide Bucket List has provided plenty of inspiration, and having only completed 3 of the items on the list, I need to get saving! But now, unfortunately, it’s back to reality, morning TV is kicking in and I need to power down and head back to the land of spreadsheets and marketing strategies.


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An email dropped into my inbox this morning that I was excited to read. It was a complete distraction as I was supposed to be getting on with some complex spreadsheet. Nevermind. It was a more than welcome distraction.

Rough Guides have got a new website, it’s not yet launched, but it’s up for perusal. It’s here.

So there are a lot of cool articles and things that I have yet to explore, but one thing that caught my eye (particularly because of the beautiful photos) was their Bucket List.

Now, I know about Bucket Lists, in fact we recently discussed them amongst fellow travellers on my trip to Costa Rica, but I’ve never actually put one together. So I’m happy to reflect on the Rough Guide Bucket List, and see which ones I may add to mine, should I concoct one at some point, and which ones I may already have nearly conquered…

*All images below are from the Rough Guides new website. If you want to witness the list in it’s proper glory, please go here. *

  1. Get Lost in Fez El Bali

    I once got very lost in Marrakesch. It was a sweltering day and I was getting very frustrated and overwhelmed as I couldn’t find the entrance to a particular fort. I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I didn’t enjoy getting lost in Morocco in that instance. I like wandering round souks, but I’m not sure that I ever like getting lost. Perhaps I need to learn to let go more. This one can stay off my list.

  2. Take the Trans-Mongolian Express

    Trans Mongolian RailwayYes, yes, yes, yes, yes. I’ve been trying to plan this for years. I first heard about this about 15 years ago when one of my best friends did this trip. The romance of travelling by train across barren and unfamiliar landscapes, facing harsh weather and remote wildernesses. I like the idea of piling on the wool and sheepskin layers and big hats to stay warm whilst slugging vodka from a hip flask to keep warm. Riding with Mongolian horsemen and meeting people who stare at you like you’re an alien. That REALLY feels like travelling to me. That is on the list.

  3. Conquer an Icelandic glacier

    I’ve never really had the urge to put on crampons and sling a pick over my shoulder and head up a glacier. I’m not really an ice person, more a snow person, happy to board down a glacier on a plank of wood… I’d love to look at icebergs from a boat and definately do some whale-spotting. And Iceland appeals massively – in fact it’s a hot contender for my honeymoon later this year – but that’s more midnight sun and Blue Lagoon. I’ll leave one this to Ranulph Fiennes wannabes.

  4. Travel to the Teatime islands

    Now, I have never heard of the Teatime Islands, but BOY do I want to go there! What a name! Provided they have tea, I’m there. But seriously, I love the idea of visiting remote islands out in the middle of the planet’s oceans and particularly the romance of arriving there by boat, again, really feeling the distance. I’m not sure I’ll ever get to the Teatimes, but maybe one day an island in the South Pacific… please..?

  5. Visit Herculaneum in the Shadow of Mount Vesuvius

    This summer I had a FABULOUS holiday romping around Italy. It was completely amazing and a major highlight was visiting Pompei, which is incredible, and then going to the top of Vesuvius. At the time I read that we should visit Herculaneum, but we just didn’t have the time. I’m sure that this would have completely blown my mind and I would absolutely be interested in going there next time we’re in that part of the world. Fascinating.

  6. Hike China’s Great Wall

    Great Wall of ChinaI REALLY want to go to China and see the Wall. I don’t have to hike it, although I’d like to go to a more remote part than the main tourist part so I guess that means I’d need to! When I look at photos of the Great Wall it looks so majestic, and of course there are never any people on it. Probably carrying out a hike is the only way to experience the “Great”ness of it. You can see it from space for goodness sake. This is 100% on the list.

  7. Climb Cadair Idris, Wales

    I’ve been to Wales a couple of times. Cardiff, to party, Rhyl and Bangor, for work. They were pretty nice. I know Wales has a wild and beautiful side, and this could be a great start. For some reason I still feel that I have to spend 5 hours on a plane, or move into a hotter climate in order to travel and explore. I should spend more time looking on my doorstep…

  8. Hunt for icebergs in Newfoundland

    This is in the bucket. If I’m on a boat and I’m looking at icebergs, I know I’ll be happy. So beautiful, so magical and mystical, mother nature at her most glamourous. Think of the photos, the feeling of fresh air. And Canada, I’m realising I need more of Canada in my life. It’s mostly Canadians that tell me this, but I believe them. Nature is BIG there.

  9. Tickle whales in Mexico

    Whale spottingI desperately want to see whales. I don’t care where, as long as they are big whales. I love all creatures underwater, whales, dolphins, killer whales, sharks. I’ve swum with sharks, spotted dolphins up really close, whales is the dream. Or killer whales. Both incredible. Mexico is beautiful and I’d happily go there to see them, or somewhere else. If I get to tickle them, all the better.

  10. Sail around the Galapagos

    Ever since we visited the Balasteros Islands in Peru and my jaw dropped and heart raced at the amount of life those islands were teeming with, I have had my sights on the Galapagos. It is the ultimate untouched paradise when it comes to interacting with nature. Friends who have been send back incredible pictures of up close encounters with the local wildlife. I want to go, badly, it’s just so darned far away and takes a lot of money to get there… I can dream and put it in the bucket.

  11. Swim with Manatees in Florida

    I saw one when in Guatemala, gliding under our boat. They’re crazy and beautiful in an ugly way. A nice alternative to swimming with dolphins, which I’d also like to do.

  12. Go volcano boarding in Leon

    volcanoWhy not? I’ve done snowboarding in europe and sandboarding in africa, why not ashboarding in Nicaragua? Just back from Costa Rica, it’s unlikely I’ll be there in a while, but the bucket lasts for a while. I felt like I once did this when descending Pacaya (Guatemala) on foot. Slipping and sliding in the dark whilst inhaling sulphur gas. A lasting and fun memory…

  13. Take a slow boat up the Nam Ou

    mekongNow, I’m trying to work out if I’ve done this. I definately took a boat from somewhere in North Thailand to Luang Prubang in Laos, on the Mekong, perhaps not this part. The one thing I do know, it wasn’t slow. It was fast, very fast. We crammed around 4 big westerners into this cramped longboat with a huge outboard motor, put crash helmets on and sat for around 4 hours whilst the motor was buzzing in our brains. The slow boat would be the way to go next time I’m in town.

  14. Watch elephant bathing in Nepal

    I love elephants, and had the pleasure of watching elephant bathing in Sri Lanka. I want to go to Nepal badly. Again a trip I’ve been trying to do for the last couple of years. It feels like it’ll complete my spiritual education, so perhaps not to watch elephants bath, specifically, but that would be a nice bonus.

  15. Eat steak in Buenos Aires

    That would be lovely. Thank you.

  16. Drive from Vinales to Cayo Jutias by scooter

    My friend and I once hired a scooter, or it may have been a motorbike, on Ko Samui in Thailand. We thought it looked easy (having never ridden one before) and a great way to get around. Within minutes it had leapt out of our hands and thrown itself onto its side in the middle of Chaweng high street. It was then too heavy to pick up. After that we decided to pay locals to drive us round and we’d cling to them and scream as they zipped around the island. That’s more my style, and Cuba is super high on my list, so I’ll just need to find someone to ride pillion with.

  17. Spend a night in Wadi Rum

    TICK! Yes, finally, one that I’ve done! And yes, HUGELY recommend this, one of the best and most memorable experiences of my life. So stunning, so peaceful, such a view of the bright moon and stars. Jordan is a fabulous country to experience, do it, do it soon.

  18. Feast on oysters in Bouzigues

    I discovered my love for oysters in New Orleans, and then followed it up with a visit to the Oyster bar under Grand Central Station in New York, I didn’t need to even go that far!

  19. Steam in a temazcal, Mexico

    Second mention of Mexico, one of my favourite countries and trips ever, albeit it a while ago. I love a good steam and recently experienced another recommended experience at South Korean bathhouses. I’d put that on the list instead.

Phew! That’s a lot to ponder and I’m not all the way through. Still, the bucket is filling up, and I’ll review the remainder soon!!

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Airports. Strange worlds between worlds. The crossing over from the real world with your “life”, identity, the nine to five, the coping expression, the monkey mind… to the holiday version of yourself, more relaxed (after you’ve shed your snakeskin of stress), more authentic, less wrinkled from frowning at the computer screen.
Airports are sterile, the same the world over, shops, restaurants, a chapel, water fountains, self flushing toilets. People pass through as they move between their worlds and spend a few hours or more, killing time.
Today I’m in Atlanta airport. Moving back into my reality. After 16 days of a more authentic life. Being outdoors in the sunshine and the rain, meeting new people, interacting, experiencing… Now time to get back into my usual skin, warmer clothes, back to the office and routine.
Today I’m killing time in the bookstore, lusting over beautiful paperbacks. I want to buy a pile to take on the plane. But I need to sleep so I download the sample chapters onto my Kindle instead, and buy just one…
I visit the gadget shops spending megabucks in my mind. A mouse that scans photos, a silicon keyboard for thr ipad I don’t yet own, a portable projector so you can watch movies when travelling the world…
I spray myself with a cocktail of perfumes and instantly regret it.
Then we retreat to Starbucks for an overpriced latte. It’s all going on the visa now, we’ve given up with the budgeting… it’s the last few hours of our holiday and we’ll enjoy it at any cost.
Airports are like clinics that you need to pass through between your holiday and your real life to make sure the impact of the change doesn’t hurt too much. A decompression chamber. With sunglasses shops and Starbucks.



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Day 6 of our Costa Rica adventure and we are deep in rainforest territory. The Serepiqua rainforest and I have never seen so much rain.
We were supposed to take a tractor up a mudslide earlier to get to our rainforest retreat but there has been so much rain the river has swollen rendering even the tractor, with his mud-ready claws, useless.
So we have taken a serendipous diversion to our new home, Hacienda Pozo Azul, Tents in the rainforest. This is my kind of tent – more of a tent reinforced within its own marquee structure with real beds and a bathroom.
Still the sides are open so we can watch the forest activity and a frog gained exclusive access to our banos via the plughole.
I’m excited by the frogs, I hear they’re the size of dinner plates out here and in a couple hours, once the skies fall dark, we’ll be taking a walk to the frog pond to find those beauties…


View from inside our tent


Our rainforest tent


Leaving Tortugero


A local, sunbathing

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So this is more of an experiment than anything. As well as a testament to just how far things have come since I started travelling many tropical moons ago.
I’m in the jungle right now, the helicopter beat of our ceiling fan overhead and the carcophany of whistles and cheeps and squeaks and trills of the jungle outside our cabana.
Today is Christmas day and I’m in Costa Rica, having spent a day on a boat spotting sloths, monkeys, toucan, vultures, crocodiles and
more. Stopping for Christmas lunch of chicken, rice and beans.
Amazing. There was a time I used to turn up my nose at the kids who fell over themselves to get the wifi key on arriving at a new remote hostel. That time was around 2 years ago. Now I’m travelling with a group where one lady is 70 years old and blogging (as well as, no doubt, ziplining and white water rafting later in the trip). I think it’s time I embraced the wifi and smart phone combo and joy in being able to continue to blog, at Christmas, in the jungle. Merry Christmas everyone, whichever remote and random corner of the world you’re in, you can probably read it with the right wifi key 🙂







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I had a little after-work jaunt down to London yesterday, slipping in with the commuter stream and popping out on Leicester Square, a fine and exciting place to be on a balmy Monday evening. I met with my main adventure gal, Lara, complete with fresh bandage (from broken lamp incident) and haviana foot combo. We had hot tickets to THE event of the night, “A Night of Adventure” hosted at the Vue cinema.

This was seriously dangerous territory for us both. Freshly back from our little escapade to Jordan, just about recovering from the come down of post-adventure blues, here we were putting ourselves up for not one but eleven shots of pure, unfiltered adventure inspiration, straight into the ceberal cortex.

The event invited 11 modern day adventurers and explorers who have traversed continents on foot and on bike, explored polar regions, deserts, jungles, caves, sailed round the world, and round the UK coastline, all sorts, with all manor of personality, shouting out their stories for all to hear and become inspired to have their own adventures. It was hilarious, and sad, and heartwarming, and eye-prickingly moving, and, of course, very, very inspiring.

AND it was all in the spirit of getting our adventure juices flowing, egging us all on to conduct micro-adventures of our own (this is the idea of a very high spirited young man, who is nothing but wonderful to watch in action – Alastair Humpreys


So we were encouraged to think about adventuring, in whatever form that may take, from a small adventure in a lunch hour, to an epic adventure for the rest of your life, whether it’s something you’ve always wanted to do (like run a marathon) or just putting yourself outside your comfort zone for a little while.

Another major enlightenment was the discovery of a new patch of time in which we can conduct our adventures – the idea of “5 to 9” – hours when we are NOT working!!! Hurrah! A whole 16 HOURS of time per day that have been reframed to make space for fun!

And to motivate us to adventure, there is a great cause – raising money for an amazing charity – Home and Hopes – which helps children from areas of conflict around the world.

So the idea is that this summer can be the “Summer of Adventure” and everyone can commit to having a few adventures that will enrich their lives and their worlds, without the need for lots of money, or having to go to far flung exotic locations OR even take time off work! Get inspired here:

The slide shows were amazing, but there were notably less women adventurers and I couldn’t help but wonder how difficult it would be for a women to paraglide into Afghanistan, and whether a woman could join a tribe to cross the Mongolian desert. Still, that’s not going to put us off planning and dreaming!

So, after watching these inspiring and incredible stories of travel, Lara and I bounced into a nearby bar for a beer and to start planning our Summer of Adventure, which I had to cut short, realising I was about to miss my train home.

Deciding to change tack on the way home, I hopped aboard the Oxford Tube, and undercover of darkness, plotted and planned my list of ideas for adventures to swap and hone with Lara when I’m on my next little dash to the Big Smoke (Friday!).

SO here is my first draft of adventure ideas (not all mine)…

1. Recreate a day of a favourite trip – so recently Jordan – get together with pals from the trip, eat falafel, smoke shisha, find/ride a camel, get sunburnt, sleep under the stars, visit a castle

2. Have a tube line adventure – so pick one, and take photos at the stop with each sign and make the shot creative, tell a story

3. Enjoy the 5pm-9am (this was one of Alastair’s) – leave work and head for a remote location – mountain/field/woodland – and camp the night there, wake up in the morning, jump in a lake, and then head into work for 9am

4. Contact a random friend (UK based) from Facebook (good check that they actually ARE your friend) and invite yourself over to spend a weekend with them

5. Get on a bus, any bus, and ride it to the end of the line (or somewhere you feel compelled to get off) and spend an hour there

6. Cycle London to Brighton

7. Buy a plane ticket to somewhere you’ve never heard of (for under £100) and spend 24 hours there

8. Walk the Ridgeway

9. Explore a Northern town that I haven’t been to

10. Walk for 15 miles out of town and explore, take pictures

11. Walk a different route to work, go to new bars, eat somewhere different for lunch

12. Dress differently when you go out, wear different makeup

13. Next time you feel like saying no, say yes

14. Next time you feel like saying yes, say no

15. Make eye contact with 7 strangers on the way to work (and perhaps even smile!)

16. Have something you’ve never eaten before for dinner (or something very random)

17. Create a playlist of music that I never listen to and listen to it for a week

18. Sleep on a beach

So, next step is to pow-wow with Lara and work out which of our ideas we can realistically do over the summer, which we’ll be able to raise money doing, and which we’ll need to banish to the dark corners of our imaginations… for now! So, watch out for the short list – coming soon (while it’s still Summer!!)

Some other key notes I scribbled down from the sessions:

  1. It’s all about the 5pm-9am, what can you do in the other 16 hours of your day
  2. Travelling is not about running away from problems, but about running towards your future adventures
  3. Travelling is as much about making new friends, having new connections and having FUN (don’t forget to have fun)
  4. Adventures are supposed to be difficult and scary and sometimes horrible and often challenging and not always fun at all, but the important thing is that you have them and afterwards you’ll always be glad you did.

Now read Lara’s write up of the night, and get involved!

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