Celebrating the best bits and bobs to be found while exploring Europe and North America. Much is inspired by real outings, whether they were walking, cycling or photographic in nature, while virtual blundering in the name of planning them has turned up some gems too. Regardless of how they were found, I hope that they keep coming so I can continue to share new things with you here.
Until my father passed away at the start of 2015, the idea of exploring places outside of Britain and Ireland was not one that was a realistic one. An elderly parent who has lost their own life partner is not one to abandon anyway and he always harboured fears whenever my brother or I went on a journey using air travel. Whether this was parental anxiousness or a deep seated fear of flying, we never got to testing for he never flew himself. Maybe it might have been too much for him.
Even with those limitations, I did get to settle in the U.K. and gone back and forth to Ireland for more than twenty years, much of it by plane. Before that, I went to Brittany and Jersey on a school trip so that offered a little taste of the world beyond the island of Ireland. A weekend trip to Northern Ireland followed though that was related to farming and my father was there too.
Business trips also took me overseas and were the cause of my getting to Lund and Södertälje in Sweden as well as Wilmington in Delaware, U.S.A. Aside from the Södertälje visit when I went alone in the summertime, the others did not allow for much exploration.
2015 allowed me to embark on overseas forays of my own with one trip to Iceland and another to Switzerland. Both were pondered on here ahead of time even if the actual chances of something coming of these was not rated highly. In the event, both escapades did what I hoped that they would do for they not only allowed me to savour wilder parts of other countries but they also allowed me respite from the life experiences that then were coming my way. Being able to go somewhere where you are not known and momentarily forget the cares of everyday life was what I needed and I am grateful for the opportunities that allowed me to do just that.
After those pleasant experiences, I fancy more globetrotting. Norway's mountains and fjords take my fancy and continuing alpine excursions could be the cause of taking me to Austria and Germany for a first visit as well as a return trip to France. Once upon a time, I would have discounted features on overseas walking in the likes of Country Walking or those tourism board magazine inserts that try to sell the idea even more. Now, I read them with as much if not more interest than whatever else is in the magazine.
While European destinations are likely to loom larger, my mind has not been stopped from crossing continents. Mountain areas in North America and New Zealand have caught my attention and all have the advantage of having English as a main language too. Places like Patagonia or other parts of South America may tempt many but I am not committed to these and destinations in south-east Asia are not as tempting to me as they may be to others. Wanderlust is not about to take complete hold of me.
Still, I am more likely to peruse magazines like Hidden Europe, Wanderlust and National Geographic Traveller to see what is in there and portals like WE12TRAVEL, Solofriendly or Wikitravel have their uses too. Features in print magazines can be pleasant reading with alluring photos and some of these will be more useful than others. The bite-sized nature of these things is a real help because it can feel overwhelming when you are reading through a guidebook on a new country from the likes of Rough Guides, Lonely Planet or Bradt. A little at a time can leave more in the memory as I have found through keeping up with various magazines over the years.
Though overseas options have been distracting me, I do not want to overlook what remains undiscovered in Britain and Ireland. The latter is the country of my birth and so much remains unexplored there, something for which I often chide myself. Familiar haunts are not to be abandoned either since time often brings something new that draws you back to a well known location. A balance between new and old always brings satisfaction.