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The 5 Places I Can’t Stop Dreaming About

On this big, wide glorious planet that we have the privilege of inhabiting, there are countless countries, cities, cultures and sights to explore. Some of us are attracted to the grit and spice of Southeast Asia, while others love the sophistication of Europe. We choose to languish on serene beaches, wander city streets and inspect architectural marvels, or scale strenuous mountainous heights.

Our traveling style is as unique as our fingerprints.

I’ve met people, who I refer to as passengers, who tick a country off their “list” if they’ve made a stopover or visited for 24 hours. Others won’t say they truly know a country, until they’ve made friends with the locals, mastered the cuisine and speak the language reasonably well. Still others, consider a 2 week all-inclusive vacation on a country’s beach to be a trip well traveled.

My idea of traveling falls somewhere in the middle of all that. A transit through a city’s airport certainly isn’t enough time to know a country, but 24 hours could be. It took 4 separate visits to Rome before I felt that I knew the city at all, but 8 hours in Colonia del Sacramento, Uruguay was plenty.

Wandering Rome

Wandering Rome for the first time in 2008

The same goes for return trips to particular destinations. We all have a different inclination. Some travellers refuse to cross the same border twice, preferring to see as much of the world as possible, while others visit not only the same country, but the same hotel/hostel/resort year after year.

I always imagined that I’d choose a different country for every single one of my trips (you know that whole seeing as much of the world as possible thing), but I’ve returned to Thailand and Italy, again and again…and would still revisit either country in a heartbeat.

As travellers, how do we decide where to go, how much time to spend and whether we’ll return?

Recently, I’ve noticed my mind dreamily wandering to already visited destinations. Sure, I still have many unknown parts of the world left to explore, and my lust for discovering those places is always lurking somewhere close to the surface, but lately, I can’t seem to stop thinking about the healing waters and solitude of tranquil Valle D’Imagna in Bergamo, Italy or the sticky sweetness of Istanbul’s turkish delight.

Spa-ing in Valle D'Imagna

Spa-ing in Valle D’Imagna

So, when I read about the Booked.netTop Destinations to Go There Contest on Lucy’s blog, it seemed like a perfect opportunity to give in to my travel nostalgia.

So what destinations have captured my imagination yet again?!

Ubud, Bali
We loved Ubud so much, we saw little else of the island. Our 8 days in Bali’s cultural and artistic heart was filled with green views as far as the eye could see, sacred monkeys, and copious amounts of nurturing, organic food.

Balinese architecture is some of the most beautiful in the world, and one of the best places to experience it is inside a spa, getting a massage. Something I’ll be doing a lot of, if we ever make it back there.

Naxos, Greece
In the Cycladic group of islands, Santorini and Mykonos might get all the press, but the crystal clear waters of Agios Prokopios beach in Naxos, Greece is what fills my visions time and time again.

Less touristy than it’s counterparts, Naxos is a chilled out island with one of the world’s best beaches, as far as I’m concerned. Champagne coloured sand-that’s-not-quite sand, accounts for the absolute clarity of the sea here.

Paris, France
Ahh jolie Paris. I’m sure this city figures on many best of lists, and with good reason. With more famous landmarks than a city really has need for, stunning Haussian architecture, the romantic Seine, and an unparalleled culinary and fashion scene, it’s no wonder.

The Tour Eiffel, Arc de Triomphe, and Louvre do not disappoint, but for me, it’s the to-die-for salted caramel ice cream I had at Amorino on magical Ile St. Louis that I’m still dreaming about. πŸ˜‰

Marrakesh, Morocco
My visit to Marrakesh was so long ago, it feels like another lifetime. Come to think of it, it WAS another life, before I was married, before I moved to Korea and before I really knew how to travel effectively (because believe me, good travel is a skill like anything else).

I long to lose myself in the crowded alleyways of the souk, partake in another skin-bruising hammam, and smell the smoke of a thousand fires in Jemaa El Fna Square once again.

Cape Town, South Africa
By the end of our week in Cape Town, it was clear that it was not enough time by far. Blessed with some of the most amazing natural beauty in the world, the city also tempts with a diverse food scene. In between driving Chapman’s Peak, exploring the Cape of Good Hope and hanging out with penguins, we ate what seemed like all of the world’s cuisine during our week there.

Besides which, Table Mountain must be conquered!

Anyone is free to enter the contest, and have a shot at winning a brand new iPhone 6, but I’m tagging Life to my Fullest, Boy Eats World, Indahs: Travel Story & Photography, The Soul of Seoul, and Packing My Suitcase.

I’d love to see the places that have a hold on YOUR imagination.

How do you travel? Are you a repeat roamer or a once-is-enough type of globetrotter? What are the places you can’t stop dreaming about?

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48 Comments Post a comment
  1. Our dreams were usually for European destinations, but now I’m starting to long for the good old British Columbian small towns and ghost town explorations. I’m missing my hometown these days. πŸ™‚

    August 19, 2014
    • I totally just scratched that itch with my road trip through interior BC. I was really missing the beauty of western Canada too.

      August 20, 2014
      • I hope to get back soon to do it too!

        August 20, 2014
  2. I would find it very hard to limit myself to five but if I was to ignore cities a quick response would include: safari in Africa, Alaska, Galapagos Islands, Antarctica, Patagonia, Switzerland

    August 19, 2014
    • It is difficult to choose just 5. It seems like you veer more towards outdoor/adventure traveling by your choices…wow Antarctica!! Must’ve been such an experience! We’ve done a safari in the Serengeti which was beyond amazing, but have yet to make it to any of the other destinations.

      August 20, 2014
  3. I’ma repeat Roamer. If I find somewhere I love I want to get into it’s every corner and groove. My list would have to include Cambodia, Croatia, Japan, Borneo and France (even after five visits).

    August 19, 2014
    • Croatia was the 6th country on my list. We really loved it there, the water was so insanely beautiful! Borneo is an interesting choice! We’ve been there, but I don’t have any inclination to go back… but then again, we only did the Malaysian side, so might have to return to explore the Indonesian side. πŸ˜‰

      August 20, 2014
      • You know as soon as I hit type I realised that Oman is actually the one place we’re always talking about a repeat visit to and I totally forgot to add it to my list. So Borneo (while we did love it) gets the chop. πŸ™‚

        August 23, 2014
        • Oman!! Wow, that’s somewhere I never even considered traveling. It seems I will have to do a little research on a new possible destination…

          August 24, 2014
          • Most amazing destination. Beautiful, friendly, cultural, adventurous And tasty all at once!

            August 24, 2014
  4. Kan #

    Fantastic list. South Africa and Morocco are destinations I’ve long dreamed about. Didn’t know about Naxos… our visit to Greece was limited to Athens and Santorini… but sounds like another place to add on to the must-visit list! As you said – we inhabit a big, wide and glorious planet πŸ™‚

    August 19, 2014
    • We visited South Africa pretty recently, so the urge is not so strong there, but I am really dying to get back to Morocco. It was so long ago, and I guess I have a romantic memory of the place. πŸ™‚ Santorini is so stunningly beautiful, but it’s so touristy, that I get tired of it pretty quickly. Naxos on the other hand, has a quieter beauty, a more local feeling, and is someplace I felt I could hang out for a very, very long time. I definitely recommend visiting! πŸ˜€

      August 20, 2014
  5. I love going to new places. But there are places in Italy I have returned to, such as Rome, Venice and the Amalfi Coast. In some instances, I won’t return because I don’t want to spoil the memories I have, for instance Goa, where I met my husband. Such wonderful photos πŸ™‚

    August 19, 2014
    • Aww, that’s so romantic…that you won’t return to Goa for that reason. I have that feeling with my husband too…except in an opposite way… I want to return to all the places that I visited before I met him, so we can make new memories there together πŸ™‚

      August 20, 2014
  6. Totally agree on Ubud, Cape Town and Naxos. Actually, Naxos and Paros were two of our favourites Cycladean islands.

    August 19, 2014
    • Sooo loved Naxos… I dream of owning property there one day, so I can hang out all summer long. πŸ˜€ Hubby has been to Paros, but I haven’t yet. Def prefer these islands to the more marquee Cycladic islands though, that’s for sure.

      August 20, 2014
  7. Great post! Thanks for participation!

    August 19, 2014
  8. such an amazing post! You’ve made great choices πŸ™‚ And yes, I believe traveling is also a skill, and as much as we travel, more we learn. I surely travel differently today, better I would say πŸ˜€

    August 19, 2014
    • When I think back to my first trips, it really reminds me of how much better I’ve gotten at “traveling.” Of course, things have changed so much in the last 10 years… I still remember trying to make long distance calls with phone cards in Greece (Skype and free wifi didn’t exist then), and being so frustrated, but also loving the experience at the same time. In some ways, travel is almost too “easy” these days…with internet and wifi. I wonder sometimes, if we are missing out on certain experiences because we rely on the internet too much?

      August 20, 2014
      • Ohh Shelley me too!! When I was on my exchange program in Canada I also used those calling card to call home hahaha, it was expensive in a long term and also frustrating most of the time!
        In terms of technology, it also makes me wonder how it would be without GPS and all, I guess it was an adventure to travel before… today as you said, its easier…sometimes too easy! Here in Europe is too easy I think, especially in the borders, you chance countries and you dont even notice… the currency is mostly the same. It has of course a positive side this globalization thing… and regarding internet, yes, I am sure we rely too much on it! Im guessing it will only get worse!

        August 20, 2014
  9. HannahontheMap #

    I repeat myself at times, but then there are other places that once is enough. I unfortunately haven’t been to any of these cities, but it’s a great list!

    August 20, 2014
    • Hi Hannah…. yes, it’s funny how obvious it is when once is enough. πŸ˜‰ Sometimes I’m surprised by the places that end up in that category for me – like Buenos Aires, for example. I really thought I’d want to live there before we visited, but it just didn’t turn out that way.

      August 20, 2014
  10. Sha #

    And you are back at work, really? That fast? Haha….anyway, I love to visit the places that I enjoy over and over again, which is also why I still haven’t managed to get out of Asia! Haha…thanks for the tag, by the way…:)

    August 20, 2014
    • Lol… I gotta get on it. I still have 8 months of our RTW, Scandinavia and now North America to write about, plus Korea blog posts. AHHHH!!!! I meant it when I said I was drowning in posts. πŸ˜‰ But yeah, I hear you about Asia…there’s sooo many places to visit! I still have quite a few left and we’ve been traveling pretty consistently for the last 5 years.

      August 20, 2014
      • Sha #

        Hahaha…well, I would say that I haven’t travelled as much as you have and I still have lots more to write about. So just take your time…you may find it memorable to think back on it one day to write for the blog…unless of course you feel you would have forgotten the details..haha..sometimes I write these down in draft for a full post later down the road if I’m worried I may forget…:)

        August 20, 2014
  11. I do a bit of both: I love exploring new places but there are others that I’m always drawn back to. I’ve still never been to Italy though!

    August 20, 2014
    • Ohh, you must make it to Italy one day!! It’s definitely one of my favourite countries in the world to visit. The history and the beauty and the food. OMG the food!! πŸ˜‰ It just never gets old for me.

      August 20, 2014
  12. In my head, Paris charm works to everyone who loves to travel. I’ll keep in mind Naxos, Greece. Maybe ask you questions when I get there. πŸ™‚ Maybe. I’m curious about your Bali experience.
    I think my list would include major cities.

    August 20, 2014
    • Yes!! Definitely go to Naxos while you’re in Greece. I know a great place to stay too…inexpensive and walking distance to THAT beach. πŸ™‚

      August 21, 2014
  13. I havent travelled very far in my lifetime but I totally love Istanbul, Vienna, Transylvania and Florence.

    August 20, 2014
    • Lol… for some reason every time I hear about someone actually visiting Transylvania, it makes me laugh. Sesame street memories or something. πŸ˜‰ But totally agree with you on Istanbul, Vienna and Florence – all completely amazing cities!

      August 21, 2014
  14. Back when I started traveling ten years ago I was of the mindset that I would never travel to the same place twice. I wanted to maximize my time and visit as many places in the world as I could. But the good part of being a seasoned traveler is that my way of thinking has changed. I went to Cuba in 2005 and made the decision to go back for six weeks in 2007. I managed to visit some of the same places as I had my first trip, but I also saw so many new parts of the country. It still goes down as one of the best trips of my life. I could go back there dozens of times and I still wouldn’t have seen it all. It was a great lesson for me to learn early on and now I really enjoy returning to countries I’ve already been to. Anyway, great post and I’m so happy to have come across your blog πŸ™‚

    August 22, 2014
    • Ohhh, I love Cuba too!! So amazing that you got to spend 6 weeks there. I really want to go back there before it changes too much, but living in Asia now, it’s much more difficult to get there. There’s really so much to discover in each country, unless we go back, we’re really only getting a superficial look at it. I’ve been in Korea for 5 years now, and I STILL don’t feel like I know the country. I barely know Seoul!! πŸ™‚

      August 23, 2014
  15. What a lovely post! And I love your thoughts about what it means to have truly “seen” another country. Personally, I don’t count layovers, but a week or more is fair game. I’m also pleased that I’ve been to one of your 5 travel destinations – Cape Town!

    August 23, 2014
    • Aww thanks. It was actually a lot of fun to write (and dream about). Cape Town is beyond amazing! I cannot wait to get back there. πŸ™‚

      August 24, 2014
  16. I would definitely add Ubud to my best places. It is really an amazing place. And Naxos of course, because Greece is my favorite. πŸ™‚

    August 26, 2014
    • We loved Ubud so much, we didn’t make it anywhere else in Bali. Have no idea what the beaches look like there! It’s okay though, cuz now we have an excuse to go back…not that we needed one. πŸ˜‰

      August 27, 2014
  17. I also loved Ubud when I visited Bali, however, I got a chance to travel up North to Munduk and really fell in love with the more rural region there. I will have to see more of Bali, that island is calling me back :-). I would also love to visit Cambodia & Burma. I’ve never been to Scandinavia. I think Norway and Sweden, at least. Oh, and let’s not forget about Iceland!

    September 3, 2014
    • Yes, Bali is a truly amazing place. I really feel like I could spend months and months there exploring and never get bored! And Iceland is definitely somewhere on my list too! Lol…it’s a never-ending, but fun battle trying to visit all the places I want to see. πŸ™‚

      September 4, 2014
  18. Great post. I agree with you when you say some places deserve return visits and others don’t, but often the experience is less about the place and more about who you meet, what’s going on there, the time of day you are somewhere and the time of year.
    Bali, Capetown, Paris … oh there are just so many πŸ™‚

    September 14, 2014
    • Hi Jules…yes, it’s true…the people and events definitely can make or break a place. Colombia is one of my all time favourite trips because we met some locals there who took us to some really amazing places. I wonder if I’d have the same feeling about Colombia if that hadn’t happened? But lol…yeah, there are too many. Someone really needs to figure out teleportation soon. πŸ˜‰

      September 15, 2014
  19. Shelley, we share Paris and Rome in common! πŸ™‚

    November 4, 2014
  20. Shelley, I am enjoying reading your blog. Thanks for stopping by and reading mine {Traveling mom1951) I am looking at Greece next and was interested in your comments about Naxos. I can’t wait for my next adventure. The great thing about traveling on your own is you learn a few more travel tricks each time, you get a little bolder and you learn how to really chill and make the most of it. Happy blogging!

    March 24, 2015
    • Hi Mary, I’m glad you’re enjoying our blog. πŸ™‚ I adore the Greek Islands in the summertime, and while I do think Santorini deserves a visit, I enjoyed my time on Naxos more. There were not many foreign tourists and it had a much more local vibe. I have not been to Paros (my hubby has), but I think it is much the same.

      I must admit I’m a bit jealous that you’ve got Greece next on your travel agenda…I wish it were next on mine too!! πŸ˜€

      March 24, 2015
      • Hi Shelley, Santorini is definitely on my list as is Athens, Naxos, Crete ….. haven’t decided which others yet. The problem is that I probably won’t be able to go till Sept, which is good cause there will be less crowds. But I sampled a few hostels and they already seem to be booking up which really surprises me. Any thoughts?

        March 24, 2015
        • Honestly, I’m not sure how it is in September. It used to be that the islands completely emptied out Aug.31 and it was easy to find places, but with the weather changing, perhaps people are visiting in September too. I also think that the best places, with the best prices tend to book up early, so if you can, maybe you could reserve in advance to hold a spot just in case. You can always cancel and rebook somewhere else if you need to. My guess is that this is what a lot of people are doing, which is why they look booked up right now. Just be sure to find places that have a reasonable cancellation policy and you should be okay… πŸ™‚ By the way, not sure what your budget it, but we stayed here in Naxos and loved it: http://www.hotel-dilino-naxos.com/en/ Walking distance from that gorgeous beach, nice swimming pool, free transport from the pier, and I think we paid about $40.

          March 24, 2015

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