The Perfect Travel Companion
“The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only one page.” – Saint Augustine
For the past four years, most of my time has been consumed with academic commitments. Completing a PhD, whilst developing relationships with my clients, shooting pictures, and keeping on top of my various other commitments, has meant that my time for seeing the world has been significantly limited. I’ve had to turn down several extremely tempting invitations as a luxury travel companion because it simply isn’t possible whilst writing a thesis.
However, a few months ago I handed in my dissertation. It was a wonderful feeling, and to celebrate I went to Mexico for a few weeks, spending time in CDMX, Oaxaca, and a tiny beach town. The experience was unparalleled. From exquisite cuisine in Mexico City to tamales on the beach; Zapotec ruins to gorgeous baroque architecture; mezcal tasting to fresh coconuts, I couldn’t get enough. The country is absurdly beautiful, and I’m determined to return soon.
However, this trip also ignited a serious desire to do some more travel. So, this is an (un)official announcement that I want to make 2020 the year I give into spontaneous impulses with boundless enthusiasm. I want to book last-minute flights to Prague; take the crack-of-dawn Eurostar to Paris for a gastronomic day trip; or just indulge in a sun-drenched week on a deserted beach somewhere.
To motivate myself, and those who might want to join me, I’m jotting down some of my ideas for closer-to-home adventures here. However, that’s not to say that invitations to head further afield won’t be welcome! Fly-me-to-you, or let’s take the train together – however we get there, a good luxury travel companion is a rare creature. But I guarantee that wherever we go, we’ll make some truly spectacular memories.
Island hopping on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast
I fell in love with Croatia many years ago. The beautiful old towns of Hvar and Dubrovnik, the wildly blue sea – what’s not to like? The southern Dalmatian islands have a reputation for mixing Mediterranean tradition with modern chic, and the feeling of unspoiled beauty is amplified by the journey to get there, across the Adriatic Sea. Let’s base ourselves on the gorgeous island of Brac, before heading off into the dreamy archipelago of over one thousand islands and eight national parks.
Geothermal lagoons and the northern lights in Iceland
Most people stay at Hotel Ranga for one purpose – to see the northern lights. Whilst there’s never a guarantee that you’ll see this spectacular show during your stay, the hotel offers a wake-up call if you’re sleeping when the lights appear. Iceland is also famous for its geothermal spas, the most famous being the Blue Lagoon. The spa is located in a lava field near Grindavík on the Reykjanes Peninsula, and is renowned for its focus on luxury and rejuvenation – Champagne at the in-water bar perhaps?
Glacial water and Medieval grandeur at Lake Bled, Slovenia
It’s no secret that I’m extremely enthusiastic about wild swimming. From lazy French rivers to icy mountain lakes, if there’s a body of water about, you can guarantee I’ll try and jump in it. I’ve always been keen to visit Lake Bled, which brings together my love of wild swimming with my fascination for religious history. Imagine waking up to the stunning lake views before starting the morning with a swim in crystal-clear waters, followed by a wander around the monastery. The dreamy Slovenian mountains provide an impeccable backdrop for a weekend of adventure and exploration.
Exploring limestone grottos in Matera, Italy
The curiously beautiful city of Matera is built into the rock of a ravine. The primary draw for me are the city’s sassi, the unique cave dwellings where, until the mid-twentieth century, people lived in darkness. In 1993, UNESCO declared Matera a World Heritage Site. It was also the European Capital of Culture in 2019, and so there’s no better time to visit this weird and wonderful destination. We don’t have to stay in the caves though – the nearby Palazzo Margherita might make for slightly more comfortable lodgings.
And of course, my number one travel plan for 2020? Somehow make it to Japan to see my long-lost darling Erin Paige. And if you want to be a plus-one for that reunion, you might need to plan something truly special…only the very bold need apply.