Friday, 10 May 2013

Day 10: Travel dreams

I love travelling.  I love planning trips, I love reading travel guides and making bookings.  I love airports and train stations.  I love that feeling of arriving in a place where no-one knows you and being totally free to explore.  I'm different when I travel: more confident, more relaxed, happier.  And I am incredibly lucky to have a job that not only affords me plenty of holiday time, but that also pays me well enough to be able to afford to do some (if not all) of the trips I have long dreamed about.
Sunrise over Table Mountain, August 2012

Over the past few years I have had some incredible holidays: a week of hiking and book buying in Scotland's Highlands and the Isle of Skye with my brother in August 2010 was a somewhat damp but still great experience.  The following summer, I travelled across America by train - from New York to Seattle, via New Orleans, San Francisco, Eugene and Portland - in what was truly the trip of a lifetime and later in 2011, I went to Iceland with a colleague for a few days.  Summer 2012 found me in South Africa, and 2013 so far has taken me to the Netherlands three times, plus a wonderfully romantic weekend in Paris with The Boy.  Meeting him has reminded me of the joys of travelling with someone else; after years of solo trips, its great fun to explore new places with a partner in crime.
Spring blossoms on the Ile de la Cite, April 2013 
I know I am utterly spoilt to have so many great holidays, but I choose to spend the lions share of my income on travel.  I drive an old banger of a car, my house needs updating, but my priority has always been to see as much of the world as I can.
Travel, for me, is about escape: from the drudgery of every day life, from the small annoyances and big responsibilities of work and home.  It is about seeing how other people live and work, exploring new places, finding out about the history and culture of an area.  I love nosing in new bookshops and vintage stores, drinking in interesting bars and eating the local cuisine.  It always amazes me how different even the countries closest to home are; the Netherlands or France - despite being two of our nearest neighbours - are so different from the UK and also easily distinguishable from each other.
There are so many places I dream of going: Vietnam, Laos, Bali, New Zealand, Botswana, Cuba, Costa Rica, Sweden, Greece, Turkey... the list goes on and on.  But if I could be anywhere in the world right now?  That's easy...
Image from Wikimedia

How can you fail to love a city which has 'Keep Portland Weird' as its unofficial slogan? 

A city where you're more likely to see someone commuting by skateboard than by car. 

A city with a vintage store on every corner.

A city which, so I'm told, has a vegan stripclub. 

A city that's home to the best bookshop in the world. 

A city where the per capita ownership of tattoos is higher than anywhere else in the USA (I might be making that last one up - but it certainly feels like it's true).

Portland, Oregon is my absolute favourite place on earth, and if I could be anywhere in the world right now, it would be there.  I'd throw on a funky vintage dress and some red lipstick (all the better to fit in with the hip-but-not-hipster residents), pack my resusable cotton shopping bags and head over to the Hawthorne district to browse the craft and vintage stores, before heading back downtown to buy a stack of books from Powells, pick up snacks from a food truck and go for a hike and a picnic in Forest Park.  Finally, I'd repair to McMenamins for a restorative pint of cider. 


  1. I would LOVE to go to Portland. As it is I'm lucky to have been to New York City three times and I cry every time I leave.

  2. ooh, I like the sound of Portland. Possibly another addition to my 'to visit' list...

  3. I've barely scratched the surface of why Portland is so brilliant - go, go, go!!