Freshly relieved of my Creative Art teaching responsibilities and greatly assisted with social media management, I not only had time to create videos, edit photography, and write blogs on the ground; after a 10-hour day, I regularly had hours to myself in the evening to produce work of my own volition and be in the incredible city of Berlin.Read More
Welcome back to my new monthly series on Nomadderwhere, one which highlights the incredible trips one could take in that current month - thanks to a vibrant book called Journeys of a Lifetime by National Geographic. Each month I pick a couple adventures from each section in the book in order to provide you inspiration for 365 days from now. Read the brief description to whet your appetite, and click on the trip name for further information (links provided by National Geographic...of course you could be a gritty backpacker and make it on your own).
The Sepik River: Let's start off with a trip for the hairy-chested and callused travelers. Say hello to Papua New Guinea! Coast along one of the least spoiled and greatest river systems in the world, flanked by jungle and indigenous cultures with multiple languages and gruesome stories from village rivalries. Skip the capital city and board a cruise boat for four days. Sounds extreme…
Turkey's Turquoise Coast: I read "anchor at night in isolated coves" and got a little giddy. How does sailing the southwest coast of Turkey, admiring relics of 4,000 year-old civilizations, and enjoying Turkish breakfasts while watching flying fish go by sound? Sounds like a trip to convert any land-lover.
Route 12 in the Outer Banks: Windsurfers, I'm talking to you now…and hang gliders…and people who like beaches. There's a stretch of 80 miles on the coast of North Carolina called the Outer Banks that would entice all of you. Rocky seas slap the shores and create the perfect climate for wind sports. Route 12 runs the length of the barrier islands and can be driven in three hours.
Connemara's Sky Road: Ireland already pulls you in with its lovely people and tendency to indulge in some tasty brews, and while you're enjoying the emerald green of her landscapes and primordial beauty, take a drive through the Connemara peninsula for some added visual pleasures. White-sand beaches and high cliffs both make up its rugged perimeter, where the intense wild mingles with pub-filled towns and wild ponies.
The Inland Railway: Board in Mora, head to Lapland. See one of Europe's last great wildernesses along the way. If you're into grand travel landmarks, you may enjoy getting the certificate upon crossing the Arctic Circle. Don't rush your week in Sweden, awaiting brown bears outside your train car window. And remember that touring in summertime allows for some awesome vistas with the 24-hour daylight.
Inverness to Kyle of Lochalsh: If you've never seen a hairy cow, now's your chance. Honestly, if you don't know what the Scottish Highlands look like, you're in for an awakening. You've probably dreamt about them without even knowing such land truly exists. I was enchanted by the simple beauty of the lakes and mountains. The landscape is haunting and hopeful at the same time. This train takes three hours and can show you the magic.
Climbing Mount Fuji: No snow. No massive festival lines to the top. July is a great time to love on Japan's famous peak. From the looks of Japanese toilets, the rest stops on the way to the summit have got to be elaborate and…kush. Whether you start in the middle for the pre-dawn trek to the sunrise or do the whole darn thing all day long, allow yourself to think about the dormant volcano below you, not all the knick-knacks and novelty items you could get while up there.
Lake Issyk-Kul: I know you don't often find yourself crossing the Kyrgyzstani/Kazakhstani borders often, but you may want to tack this trip onto your pre-existing Stan tour (or your bucket list journey). What do you imagine a lake "cradled in the Mountains of Heven" looks like? You better bet it's not only picturesque but surrounded by incredible hikes through herb meadows and colorful vistas. I never knew the Stans were coated in natural splendor. Serves me right for watching Borat.
In Search of Culture
Amish Country: Do you hang with the Amish often? What gives? Maybe you should. Take off right now for Lancaster Country, Pennsylvania and find yourself some Old Order Amish folk to admire. Take the backroads, stop for some crafts and delicious food goods, and if you're around for a Saturday, try attending an auction. Don't ask me what they auction off; I want to be surprised when I hit that up.
The Painted Monasteries of Moldavia: Illuminated manuscripts are immaculate to begin with, but seeing a similar effect covering the walls of a quaint monastery in Romania's countryside would be time travel-esque. There are as many as fifteen monasteries with similar artistry on display, one of which earned the title of "the Sistine Chapel of the East." You won't have to search very hard to find the culture here in Romania.
In Gourmet Heaven
New York Deli Tour: There's an overwhelming amount of things to do and see in Manhattan, which is why fueling up is essential. Enter the New York deli scene. You've got your classic Katz's Delicatessen, your staple Carnegie Deli, and a slew of others both well-known and lower key. Go with friends and split sandwiches to save room for some cheesecake and other delicious goods.
Wine Route Through Hungary: Allow me to write a wine route haiku:
Ancient golden wines Aged in musty, moldy caves What could be sweeter
Since when have you needed to be persuaded to visit a wine country? You just needed to know it was there. And now you do. So go.
Into the Action
Horse Treks in the Andes: The choice isn't horse, foot, car, or plane. It's obvious you'll be traversing the Andes on horseback, but the question is where: through the grasslands and volcanoes of Ecuador or along old smugglers' routes in Patagonia. Since the Andes are the longest mountain range in the world, it seems the choices are virtually limitless. Regardless, to be that connected with the glory of nature would be a thrill for the masses…and the sole individual that feels real isolation and fresh air in their nostrils. Can you tell I pine for Patagonia?
Stalking the "Big Five": Who are the "Big Five?" They were classified as so for being the most difficult to hunt: lions, leopards, elephants, buffalo, and rhinos. Chobe National Park in Botswana will satiate your desires to see these bad boys and stalk them with your newly purchased sniper (a.k.a. telephoto) lens. Don't expect to sleep in on this sort of safari, but you can expect an awesome mid-day nap when the rest of the animals snooze as well.
Up and Away
Over British Columbia: Vancouver is one of those cities that can be done by foot, bike, car, etc. but what shouldn't be neglected is the aerial view from the windows of a float plane. Sunset flights could be majestic, but daytime jaunts can bring you into view of eagles, seals, and porpoises going nuts in nature.
Buzzing over Kruger National Park: Nothing feels more like a defiance of all natural instincts and laws that flying over man-eating animals in a kite strapped to a lawn mower engine. And at the same moment, nothing is cooler than taking a microlight on a mini-safari over reserves like Kruger. It's certainly a new and interesting way to move about this earth and a surreal way to observe animals in their natural habitats.
In Their Footsteps
Across the Continental Divide with Lewis and Clark: I have no idea how Lewis and Clark could do it. But thank goodness they did; otherwise, who knows if I'd be alive (that'd be funny and make sense if I were actually related to William Clark, which I don't believe I was). It is, however, possible to see for yourself what the wild continental divide was like 200 years ago when they made their famed trek. Montana looks monumental in size, and it's always a trip worth taking to be amidst mass beauty.
Blues Pilgrimage in Clarksdale: It's the birthplace of the blues and chillin' in the Mississippi Delta, waiting to be explored by you. Morgan Freeman has certainly invested a lot in this region, which is decidedly understated but top notch in musical quality and food choices, among many other things, I would assume. You could also take Highway 61, also known as the Blues Highway, and make Clarksdale one stop among many on your musical pilgrimage.
How's that brain? Spinning with innumerable desires to traverse continents and climates? Pull out a pen and prioritize your life by putting one or more of these trips at the top of the list. And by planning a year in advance, you'll be quite able to save, prepare, and anticipate the rigors of your adventure in every way. Check back in August for the Journeys of a Lifetime you could partake in next year!
Where are you inspired to travel to next year? Leave a comment and be my new friend.
There are very few places on this Earth more beautiful Croatia's islands, particularly that of Brac. Thanks to Stjepan's suggestions, we knew exactly how to maximize our time in this wonderland: with scooters! Driving along the coast, we felt waves of heat in the sun and refreshing cool under the trees. Bugs slapped our arms, helmets, chests, and faces with thuds probably audible meters away. We felt like singing along to the hum of the little motor, but the thought of a June bug explosion in the mouth stopped us from acting on those thoughts. None of the many white craggy beaches on our way seemed good enough for this island excursion, so we booked it across the island, 30km away to the city of Bol. The last 9km were magnificent; streets winding down the coast with steep, craggy hills off the road's shoulder. A wrong turn could have sent me on a fun, but fatal, fall to the sea. I loved it.
The beach in Bol had an ambiance worthy of bottling, and I felt I was finally detached from my familiar world. Alexis and I relaxed in peace on the smooth pebbled beach, swam in the crystal clear water, and sat with smiles feeling like we truly got somewhere we will forever remember. After that, the rest of the night was just a happy blur of beautiful scenery, ice cream and ferry beers, Cankles and Saddlebags, and a flavorful homemade stew in the garden. Stjepan, Mr. Lino, Brac, Split and Croatia treated us very well, to say the leastest.
Eleven hours in a train from Split to Budapest; we got serious cabin fever. We walked it out soon after the train pulled into the station when we made the thirty minute jaunt to a very hidden hostel. The street ambiance was a little worrisome, but all the women walking around at midnight displayed the safety of the city - either that or showed there was a nice 'after hours street walking' biz around these parts. Either way, I had a twelve kilo pack and a 7'13" companion for protection.
At this point, it seems like the time to reflect on our day in Budapest, starting from our reunion with Garrett, continuing with our handball games by the Danube, and concluding with a thermal bath scene; however, because I am so backlogged on all this writing, it is only the matters of the day that come to mind and not the mess of thoughts that pulse through my head with each giggle, step, and turn of the corner. I know I'm not completely amused with this sort of documentation and find the act of reading it more of a chore than a pleasure. So it may be now that I cut to my lasting impressions of Hungary.
A city is a city. There's so much to see that is uniquely local and telling of its residents, but when you hop from country to country in search of wide-ranging joys and unique memories, each place turns into the next location to take a shower, rest your legs, and find a way to do your laundry with a little sight-seeing on the side. All this jumping caught up with me.
I tried to order a pickle and received two chicken sandwiches instead. I tried purchasing a ticket for a cheap little train, but thanks to a woman in front of me in need of every train time table that week, I had to use a valuable day on my rail pass. Hungary got to me. And it wasn't for the mere fact that I was in this country - it was my 17th destination (at least) on the trip - in one month! It was another Malaysia; I couldn't quite appreciate it while there. My frazzled brain caused incidents only to be blamed by my ignorance. My legs hurt, my journal was blank, and I just left the mystical, therapeutic ocean. Good thing Eger was all about wine tasting. Eger was laying in a camper in the rain, tasting wine and the occasional thermal bath, but my gratitude to the country was missing. One of the greatest travel travesties...
Yeah, I know. Suck it up. Look where you are. I needed a jolt. I had slowly fallen asleep. And a jolt we received a few borders away.