October is just around the corner and the days are drawing in. My summer vacations — spent in Spain and Scotland — are now just memories and photographs. I’m thinking ahead to places where I’d like to go next year: five very different destinations. Which places — cities, countries, regions — are on your must-visit travel list?
Sitges is a small town around half an hour down the coast from Barcelona in Spain’s Cataluña region — a great place as a vacation base for day trips to enjoy the big-city vibe of Barcelona as well as exploring the pretty fishing villages along the coast.
Despite being part of Spain, Cataluña has a strong sense of identity and many people there want the region to become separate. Most people are bilingual speakers of Catalan and Castilian Spanish — Catalan isn’t a dialect of Spanish, as some people think. It evolved out of the Latin spoken by the Romans who settled in the area.
I’ve seen friends’ photos of Sitges, and the town appeals to me through its Mediterranean beaches flanked by palm tree-lined promenades with white stucco buildings and grand mansions. With its Roman ruins, it’s also a UNESCO World Heritage site. Sitges is reputed to have a laid-back atmosphere; while it is a holiday resort, you’re more likely to find Catalan daytrippers and Spaniards on vacation here.
New England, USA
New England has been on my travel goals list for the past few years. I haven’t made it there yet, but it’s still on my list. My view of New England may be somewhat rose-tinted, ignoring the harsh winters, rural isolation and high poverty rates.
However, for a vacation I envisage strolling around picturesque towns, staying in quaint white-painted clapboard houses, and roadtripping through Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont. And, of course, a trip to New England wouldn’t be complete without a visit to L.L. Bean!
From my visits to various places in Greece, including time spent on the island of Lesvos, I have memories of sitting out at sea-front tavernas eating wonderful food and enjoying the culture, warm climate and music.
Crete is Greece’s largest island and although it has tourist spots aplenty (complete with drunken bachelor parties and nightlife), you can also find many places away from the tourist trail. When I go on vacation, I prefer to experience places like a local, as much as possible.
Chania Town isn’t far off the beaten path, but if you go out of season, as The Guardian‘s Kevin Rushy recommends in his Great European city breaks you’ve probably never thought of, the town is mostly home to locals and students.
Yes, another Spanish destination. The region of Andalucía is huge, covering most of the south of Spain, and you certainly can’t see everything in only one visit. From the wind-swept beaches of Cadiz and Huelva in the west, to the Moorish architecture of Granada, Sevilla and Córdoba, and the dry desert of Almería in the east, there is plenty of choice — steering clear of the touristy high-rise blocks on the coast near Málaga.
I’ve been to the north of Spain (Pamplona, Navarra) and the middle(Madrid, Toledo), but getting to Andalucía to experience classical Spain — flamenco, Spanish guitar, beautiful architecture and vibrant fiestas — is something I’d like to do in the near future.
I’ve heard the Piedmont region in the north of Italy described as having an almost French atmosphere, thanks to its elegance, sophisticated cuisine, proximity to the French border and its history — in the seventeenth century, it was occupied by the French. The area is home to the Slow Food movement and hosts food festivals throughout the year, each one varying by the produce of the season.
Piedmont is famed for its chestnuts and chocolate. Hazelnut chocolate — two flavours that go so well together — was invented here and is still made in the traditional way. As well as chestnuts, hazelnuts and chocolate, Piedmont produces fine wines and cheeses. Yummy!
Where in the world do you want to go? Share your travel goals in the comments.