Sometimes I wonder why I didn’t just make my blog a travel blog. I love to travel, I work in travel…
But my travel writing has always been pretty mundane. I’m not good at reflecting on places I’ve only been to once for a brief moment. On the other hand, keeping a diary of where we went and what we ate has just never appealed to me. Not to knock all the travel blogs out there (I consult them frequently for packing tips and restaurant suggestions), but I never get from writing the salty expansion of the soul I get from traveling. For me the world was meant to be seen.
That said, I love lists. Especially lists that inspire wanderlust.
So I’ve decided to list about travel, instead of writing about it. These are my wanderlists.
Wanderlist #1: The 10 Places I Love Most (besides home, of course)
It’s only fair to start out any series of list with the broadest, most general list. So here are my 10 favorite travel destinations. Anything goes: cities, states, parks, countries. There’s no real criteria; those lists will follow. This is just my love list.
1) London – I loved London even before grad school, though that’s definitely when I tucked it deep into my soul, never to be removed. And it’s a place I found I can go back to, with others. London definitely benefits from the good company I had while I was there on visits, but more so, it benefits from its own cosmopolitanism and love of order. London is orderly without forsaking charm, whimsy, and the element of surprise.
2) Stockholm- having family to show me around here helped, but even when I struck out on my own and hopped a boat to an island in the middle of the day, I think Stockholm is magical. I went in January under a blanket of snow, and back again at midsummer when the sun set at 11pm. Equally dreamy. And clean. And friendly. And efficient. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to be outside all the time, whether in snow boots or on a picnic blanket.
3) Yosemite- Lewis said it best when we visited Yosemite for our first anniversary. Everytime we’d turn and see yet another waterfall or cliff face towering majestically he’d say, “Oh come ON.” It’s like a theme park version of nature. All the highlights, none of the filler. It’s almost scripted the way you can fill a camera lens with imposing grandeur. The whole time we hiked and frolicked around from our base on the valley floor, I had power anthems playing in my head.
4) The Lakes District, Chile- while slightly more spread out than Yosemite, the Lakes District in Chile has comparable moments of breathtaking scenery. The seven volcanoes, the vast lake Llanquihue, and hot springs stashed here and there. I have to admit to loving the northern European influence that mixes with the Chilean pace of life for a pretty perfect attitude of industrious relaxation.
5) The Galapagos Islands- I’m lucky enough to have been here twice. Once on a boat, and once from a land-based operation. Swimming with sea lions (and sharks), strolling the Ave. Darwin, watching tortoises, snorkeling along the outcroppings. For someone who loves nature, this is the greatest playground imaginable.
6) The United States and Canadian West Coast- I love it all. Every square inch. I love the sandy beaches of Redondo and Zuma. I love the coastal hamlets of Monterey and Bodega Bay. I love the energy of LA and the vibe of San Francisco and Seattle. I love the sensibility of Oregon. And I love any time a wave crashes into a cliff. If I could live on the West Coast again, as an adult, I might give up travel altogether.
7) Alys Beach, FL- This is my oddball place. It’s a planned community, like its 30A neighbors, Rosemary Beach and Seaside. I shouldn’t have fallen in love with it when I went to the Florida coast for work every summer in my mid-20s. I love color, character, and quirkiness. But I also love white walls and dark brown trim. In Alys Beach, all the buildings are white stucco with dark wood or black trim and doors. And it is one of the most peaceful places I’ve ever been. It’s otherworldly and almost eerily appealing. And there’s a little coffee shop that will definitely be part of my real estate in heaven.
8) Marfa and surrounding area, TX- Some people go to Cancun. Some go to the aforementioned Florida coast. We go to west Texas. The desert is the kind of place you have to mature into. It’s an acquired taste. I never learned to like coffee, but I love the desert. There’s enough room to breath without feeling watched or judged. Marfa is too hip for itself, but because it’s in the middle of nowhere, it feels entirely more welcoming than Brooklyn. Plus, Balmorhea, Big Bend, and the McDonald Observatory are all within an hour’s drive. But the hammock is just as nice. You can do nothing, or you can do everything.
9) Medellin, Colombia- admittedly, my experience of this amazing city was heavily filtered. But wow. Free public wifi that works. A furnicular integrated into the cleanest public transit system I’ve ever seen…I mean ever. And a national park overlooking it all. Gorgeous architecture, innovative public space. It’s every democrat’s dreamscape. And while I can’t recommend hanging out in Plaza Botero without a bodyguard, if you happen to have one, it’s pretty amazing. Medellin is a picture of hope. It has a long way to go, but it’s set the flag at a very high mark.
10) Hacienda Zuleta, Ecuador- an historic estate belonging to the family of a former Ecuadorian president. Nestled between lush hills in the paramo. And they make cheese. Which they serve to guests every night. While cozied up on a leather sofa. By a fire. Every inch of this place is like a journey into someone’s life dream, but you would have thought it was your own life dream. We were walking the grounds to the condor rehabilitation area, when we came upon a heard of horses, just wandering freely. You know, like we were in some sort of little-girl fantasy land. Or maybe everyone’s fantasy land.