Day 4 | Countries I am Obsessed with Right Now
When I was really young, maybe 2nd or 3rd grade, I remember learning about ancient Mayan civilizations in my history class and begging my parents to take me to Mexico. Instead, they booked themselves a trip to Mazatlan and left me behind with Grandma. Thanks Mom & Dad for trying to crush my dreams to travel the world early on. That initial interest in travel started to flourish when I got to university and the program I was in had a study abroad requirement. I hadn’t really entertained the idea of living abroad up until that point, but after spending countless hours in the Study Abroad Office pouring over pamphlets for different programs, I realized my time in the US had an expiration date.
At the time, I was dating my high school sweetheart who’s father traveled fairly often for work. He had spent time in Spain, Scotland, and a host of other amazing destinations, and was always returning with presents for us from faraway lands. Scotland started to become an obsession for me. They spoke English (a pre-requisite at the time since I speak exactly 0 other languages), the cities were filled with history, the highlands were like nothing I had ever seen before, and the accents. Oh the accents. I soon decided that I was going to study abroad in Scotland, and I would have, had I cared at all about school my first few years of uni. But, alas, I had slacked off and let my GPA fall below acceptable levels for the schools in Edinburgh. Again, my dreams to travel the world were stamped out. Until, that is, I found a school in England that would have me.
I boarded a plane bound for London in July 2011, and from that point forward, I was hooked. I started spending an embarrassing amount of time pouring over travel blogs, reading guide books cover to cover, and researching new destinations on Wikitravel. After I finished uni, I got a high-paying job (relatively speaking for a recent grad) and 2 weeks of paid vacation. This was a recipe for disaster. It made my wanderlust unbearable. To combat my itchy feet, I started this blog, and joined a million and one Facebook groups dedicated to travel. My favorite being Girls Love Travel. This is a community of over 150k women who share my passion for the world. It seemed like every day, I would see a photo posted by one of the girls in the group of a country I had never even considered visiting. That’s when I started my list. It isn’t a bucket list, per say, but more of a running collection of places that I need to see…eventually. When I meet people while traveling, I always ask what their favorite places have been and add them to the list. It is starting to get long. Like… Encyclopedia Britannica long. But is that really a terrible problem to have?
Countries I am Obsessed with Right Now
I don’t know if it would even be possible for me list all the reasons that I am obsessed with Iceland. But for y’all, I will try. Wild horses. Waterfalls. Fjords. The Blue Lagoon. The Northern Lights. Ice caves. And the list goes on and on. Though, this beach bum isn’t going to sign up to visit in the dead of winter, one of my summers (soon) is going to be dedicated to this tiny island nation.
Like Iceland, Norway offers natural wonders unlike anything I have ever seen. Take Trolltunga, for example. The hike to get to this incredible spot takes between 10-12 hours. You know what that means? WAY less tourists. Between the unbelievable fjords, the unreal hiking opportunities, the chance to see the northern lights, and let’s be honest, the beautiful people, Norway has secured a permanent spot at the top of my list. If only I wasn’t worried I might freeze to death…
I have visited some beautiful islands this year. Thailand will always hold a special place in my heart because it was the first tropical place I had ever been. However, now that I know that my fair skin won’t fry like bacon in the summer heat, I have developed an obsession with tropical islands. Tahiti has recently won the top spot on my list, in part due to the fact that I am planning a visit in 2017, but also because I don’t know anyone (personally) who has been there. It is remote, flights are expensive, and it isn’t exactly a backpacker destination. However, none of that will stop me from renting an over-water bungalow for a few days so that I can sit back, read, drink coconut water and work on my tan in this beautiful place.
Out of all of the countries that I have developed obsessions with, my love affair with Spain has been the longest and most passionate. Ever since high school, I have wanted to salsa my way into the arms of a Spanish man. I have wanted to drink wine and eat tapas and take siestas. Then, as I got older and more active, I started to research the Camino de Santiago, which is a thru-hike and ancient pilgrimage route that crosses through Northern Spain to end in Santiago de Compostela. Thru-hiking has been up and coming since Wild came out, and I am just another Reese Witherspoon fan with a dream to walk through Spain carrying everything I own on my back.
When I was in Belgium in 2015, I met a girl in my hostel who was from Estonia. Before that, I honestly hadn’t even heard of this small, Eastern European country. My interest was peaked. When I returned home, I decided to start looking into Eastern Europe because on my previous two trips to the continent, I had stayed pretty central. Turns out, Estonia is straight out of a fairytale. It has beautiful castles, gorgeous natural settings, picturesque small towns, and guess what? It hasn’t been overrun with tourists. Yet.
Most of my interest in Chile stems from my intrigue with Patagonia. Most people enter this part of the world from Argentina, which is why I would rather start my Patagonian journey in Chile. Plus, Cape Horn, the southern most point in South America is a Chilean island…so ya.
I am just starting to dig into Africa because the continent is so large and I don’t know nearly enough about it, so it feels a little overwhelming to me. Zanzibar was brought to my attention by a fellow travel blogger about a year ago and I have been obsessed ever since. This country is not what you think about when you are picturing Africa, that’s for sure. It is filled with beautiful white sand beaches and some of the bluest water I have ever seen (in photos). The diving is supposed to be amazeballs, which does nothing but peak my interest in this tiny, semi-autonomous African nation.
One word. Narcos. Everyone and their brother decided that Colombia was the next hot spot after Narcos came out. I had always considered Colombia to be a dangerous place, and then everyone I know started to visit, and guess what? They came back alive! Cartagena is one of the most colorful and from what I hear, friendly cities in South America. On the backpacking trip I am planning through South America, I plan to spend the most time in Colombia. Who knows, maybe I will just never leave.
And last, but obviously not least, Australia. Oh the land down under, how I pine for thee. I have been obsessing over Australia for as long as I can remember. 16,000 miles of coastline, beautiful people, English speaking, great surfing, diving, hiking, and climbing opportunities. The 28th of February literally cannot come soon enough. I have been packed for a week now. And if that is not obsessive, I don’t know what is.
Well, there you have it. Those are the countries that top my list right now. Where are you trying to travel in 2017?