Posts Tagged With: wanderlust

Five Countries on My Bucket List!

            As you probably know by now, I live for travel. Like so many travel enthusiasts, I miss the glory days when we could freely travel around the world. It has been the biggest thing for me to swallow during the COVID pandemic. But when it’s over, I will be poised to travel again! Many of you are likely planning where you will go first when travel restrictions are lifted. I am too! I’m not exactly sure where I will go, but it may be one of the many countries on my bucket list. And fortunately, I have a South African girlfriend who is as passionate about travel as I am!

Today, I want to share with you the top five places I want to visit at some point post-COVID!

  1. Colombia
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This one may not be everyone’s cup of (insert drink). A few years ago, I visited South America for the first time and fell in love with it! I currently teach English at a school where 70% of my students are Colombian, and they have inspired me to visit their country. I’m hoping to visit Bogota, Medellin, Cartagena, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s hometown in Santa Marta. Another attraction to Colombia is that it is one of the biggest producers of my all-time favorite drink: coffee.

2. Japan

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I owe this to the many Japanese students I have taught English to over the years as well as the fact that I once dated a Japanese girl. I’m fascinated by the unique culture and history. Of course, I cannot deny my love for Japanese food, especially sushi. My Japanese aspirations include riding the famous Shinkansen (bullet train), visiting the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto, and spending a night in a capsule hotel. I also hope to visit a sento, which means bathhouse. I have been told that this is a must-do for any Japan visit. The sento, as I have learned, was once the only place where the Japanese could wash themselves.

3. Norway

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I’ve been captivated by this nation since I was eleven. The Vikings, the fjords, etc. I am hoping to visit Norway during the winter months. I once befriended a Norwegian in Spain who commented on how special it is to be there during winter. Being from the Great White North, this won’t bother me a bit.

4. Australia

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My friends from New Zealand would probably jeer me if they read this, but I have wanted to go to the Land Down Under for ages! Venturing through the Outback and the Great Barrier Reef, as well as gazing at the 12 Apostles. Then, of course, there is sitting in a Sydney outdoor café after the exhausting long flight over there. And speaking of the incredibly long journey, Australia is worth it, IHO! And to keep my Kiwi friends happy, I’ll be sure to stop by NZ on my way home.

5. Kenya

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I’ve always wanted to go on an African safari, and I feel that Kenya is the place to make that happen! I also once did a project on the Maasai group, which first sparked my interest in Kenya. My girlfriend speaks highly about Kenya and she is more than willing to return there for my sake!

Which of these countries am I hoping to visit first? Everything depends on when travel restrictions are finally eased. It would likely come down to either Colombia or Japan. We shall see!

Categories: Life | Tags: , , , , , ,

My Favorite Places in Poland

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So this may come as a shock, but back in the summer I completed my teaching contract and subsequently decided to return to my homeland, aka the Great White North!

I regret not posting as much about my time in Poland as I would have liked, though I did touch on the city I was living in, which was Radom. IMHO, it wasn’t exactly ‘top’ of my favorites list. So now I’m going to focus on some of my favorite Polish locales I encountered during my time there. Hopefully, you will be inspired to visit these places!

Warsaw

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Ah, good old Warsaw, or Warszawa as it is called in Polish. The capital and often the starting point to any Polish travels. Since Warsaw was a two-hour bus ride from Radom, I was there A LOT! Like almost every weekend. Because of the frequency of buses between Radom and the capital, it was the perfect day trip. Now most people I met said they preferred Krakow over Warsaw (Poles included), but Warsaw held a special place in my heart. It has great restaurants, chic coffee houses and a growing craft beer scene! My favorite place happened to be the Old Town. I was dating a Polish girl, who lived in Warsaw, and we had our second date there (great romantic spot FYI).

There was always something going there all year. And if you’re a fan of green spaces, there’s this neat park in the south end of the city. I like to call it Poland’s version of Central Park but on a smaller scale. I will always remember all the times I spent in Warsaw.

Toruń

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Now your average tourist wouldn’t think to include Toruń (pronounced ‘tor-in‘) in their travel plans. And I think that’s a shame! This little medieval town, located about a two-hour train ride from Warsaw, is actually the birth place of Nicolaus Copernicus. You will hear his name a lot there. In fact, there is a statue of him near the main cathedral in the center of town. I only visited Toruń once on a weekend trip, but it was well worth the journey and money! I met some locals there in a bar and ended up dancing with them in a nightclub! When you visit some of the lesser known places in Poland, it is really easy to get noticed by the locals!

I definitely recommend stopping by Toruń if Poland is on your travel bucket list!

 

Zakopane

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Pronounced ‘zak-o-pa-nay‘. This little town, which lies in the extreme south of Poland, is dubbed the Winter Capital of Poland. Polish winter enthusiasts flock to this town during the winter months, especially during Christmas and the first week of February (kids have a break from school during this time). Because it is nestled at the foot of the Tatra Mountains, it provides opportunities for skiing and winter hiking. Of course, Zakopane is a great place to visit all year round; summer hikers would love the opportunities here. However, many Poles will tell you that to truly experience the richness of Zakopane, you must visit it during winter. And that’s exactly what I did! One chilly, snowy weekend in February, I made the trip here. Being a winter enthusiast myself, I had to. I did a mini hike through the national park that straddles the Tatra Mountains, and it turned out to be one of the most memorable Polish experiences for me!

Another interesting thing about this town is the folklore. It isn’t long before you notice the locals wearing traditional clothing, especially the staff at restaurants and hotels. It almost felt as I was in a Polish version of Bavaria. Zakopane is also famous for its cheese-filled pastries. No trip here is complete without sampling one!

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Be forewarned: the closest airport is Krakow, so the only practical way of getting there without renting a car is bus. You can catch one from Krakow, which takes three hours. There is one from Warsaw as well, BUT add five hours to the journey. Since that bus stops in Krakow anyway, it’s better to just start from there unless you’re a fan of long bus rides.

 

Honorable mentions go to Krakow and Wrocław. The former is especially wonderful during Christmas when the main square becomes a giant Christmas market. The latter is a neat university city, offering a authentic taste of Poland. But I think I have bombarded you enough with information already.

Sadly, I didn’t make it to Gdansk or Auschwitz. I was not able to include either in any weekend trips, nor was I able to extend my time in Poland after the teaching contract. So many things to do, so little time! However, I may not be living in Poland now but it doesn’t mean I won’t ever be back.

So with this I close the chapter on my posts about Poland. The experience there was one of the best in my life and changed me forever. Will I go back to teach abroad? Perhaps. But this moment, I am happy on home soil.

If Poland is on your travel radar, be sure to include the places I have mentioned. If Poland isn’t on your bucket list, well…maybe you should consider it!

 

Categories: My Travels | Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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