At the start of each year, I like to curate a list of places around the world that I'd like to visit during the next twelve months. A literal wish list; I know that there isn't a chance in hell that I'll make it to every destination. But a girl can dream.
Last years travels took me to the place that I dreamt of the most, which had topped my wish list for the previous three years. Iceland was everything I thought it would be, but where do I travel to once I've ticked off the country at the top of my bucket list?
This year, I want to continue to discover new places, and to try to travel more. I have one trip already booked for February. two more in the pipeline and a handful of whispered ideas. I'd like to get off the beaten track and visit places a little less obvious
Currently number one on my wishlist, I've become enamored by this small Portuguese island chain in the middle of the Atlantic. Although there are nine islands, I would concentrate my travels on the largest of the cluster, Sao Miguel. Like a cross between Jurassic Park, Hawaii and Iceland, the luscious green islands are covered in volcanoes, hot springs and luscious green forests. Geothermal pools nestle at the foot of waterfalls, beside the sea and even in botanical gardens. Scenic hikes take you up into the clouds, offering views of crate lakes and unspoiled landscapes. Oh, and did I mention that it's one of the best places in the world for whale watching?
I've wanted to visit Norway for many years, and will finally get my chance in a month's time when I visit Oslo for a long weekend. Rather than staying in the centre of the city, we've booked a small cabin on an island in the fjord, a short bus journey out of the city. I'm hoping for snow, planning for long walks though white forests and hopefully even a sleigh ride with a stop off for a campfire. We'll spend some time exploring the city, admiring ancient churches, traditional wooden buildings and striking modern architecture, ducking into cafes to escape the cold. Although this is only a fleeting visit, I'd love to return to Norway in the summer for a journey through the fjords, visiting Bergen, Alesund and the Lofoten Islands.
A DARK SKIES NATIONAL PARK
I love nothing better than getting out into the wilderness and gazing at the night sky, especially around my birthday when the Perseid meteors make their annual appearance. This year, I'd like to spend a couple of nights camping in one of the UK's Dark Skies National Parks, simply lying back and admiring the stars. I'd love to gather a gaggle of friends, jump into our cars with our tents and spend a weekend in Dumfries & Galloway or Northumberland, walking during the day and sitting around the campfire once the sun sets, counting the shooting stars that fly above.
Saunas, dynamic architecture and an appreciation for a slower pace of life tempt me from the Finnish capital. I'd like to plan a visit to Helsinki to coincide with their Christmas markets (which have a delightful Wes Anderson aesthetic), perhaps venturing out of the city to explore the nearby countryside with a faint hope of spotting the Northern Lights. I'd visit the Kamppi Chapel of Silence for a welcome refuge from the busy city centre, the interactive Sibelius monument to create my own music, and the iconic rock church. I doubt I could muster up the courage to leap into the freezing waters of the Gulf of Finland, but I'd spend a good proportion of my trip lounging in the many saunas of the city.
I've always wanted to explore Lisbon's tiled streets, and since the cheapest way to get to the Azores is by first flying to the Portuguese capital, it makes sense to spend a few days in the city. I imagine I'd probably be an incredibly annoying companion in Lisbon, constantly stopping to take photos of the beautiful patterned tiles that adorn the trams, pavement and buildings. I'd have to time this visit for the height of summer, as the main draw for me is the prospect of wandering around the cobbled streets discovering the city on foot, before retreating to a sun-drenched rooftop to soak up the sun over seafood dinners.
Last year's beach holiday in Santorini reminded me that with all the road trips and city breaks that I like to go on, I need to make time for one relaxing holiday each summer, where I can concentrate on nothing besides resting, swimming and eating the local cuisine. I'd like to spend a few days wandering around Postiano with a friend, perhaps exploring a little more of the Amalfi Coast and hopping on a boat for a day trip to Capri. This holiday would be all about swimming in the sea, eating fresh pasta and slowly sipping wine as we admire the views.
THE FAROE ISLANDS
I'm a little bit obsessed with the Faroe Islands. After Iceland, I was searching for somewhere with a similar landscape when my Instagram feed suddenly became flooded with people visiting these small islands not that far away from my favourite destination. The roads look similar to Iceland, long and winding, and the dramatic cliffs, waterfalls and mountains appear to be the perfect setting for interesting hikes. This would be an adventure focused on exploring, walking and admiring the scenery, constantly stopping the car to take photos of the beautiful vistas.
NOVA SCOTIA / NEWFOUNDLAND / FOGO ISLAND
I love the idea of spending a few weeks travelling around Eastern Canada in a jeep, sleeping in the back and waking up to a new view each day. Starting in Nova Scotia, we'd explore colourful fishing villages and dramatic coastlines, before embarking on a ferry to Newfoundland. Here, our adventures would focus on exploring Gros Morne National Park, hiking in the mountains and taking a boat trip through fjords, perhaps venturing out to sea on a whale spotting quest. The final stop on the agenda would be Fogo Island, a beautiful rocky island that has become famed in recent years for its growing artistic community and collection of incredible modernist structures. Designed to interact with and complement the landscape, the series of artist studios and the Fogo Island Inn top my list of places I'd like to rest my head.