The last week has been quite emotional for me. It has finally hit me that I am really moving overseas, that things will be changing, and that my mum won’t be around for a hug and a chat whenever I want her. This of course has resulted in a few random emotional explosions (you know, the ones with tears and fury and kicking fridge doors) as well as a migraine (the doctor told me it was the physical reaction to my mental anxiety). I knew that I still wanted to leave, but I was finding it hard to remember why I wanted to go so badly. I even thought about booking a return ticket now.
Last night I was sitting on the couch with my dad and he flicked over to a movie that was on called Vicky Cristina Barcelona. On a sidenote, the main actor (Javier Bardem) was bugging me the whole movie because he looked so much like another actor that I couldn’t remember and I kept thinking of Gerard Butler but it wasn’t him. Turns out it’s another guy from P.S. I Love You. They look so similar, see?
Javier Bardem on the left, Jeffrey Dean Morgan on the right.
Both totally gorgeous.
Back to the point: this movie is obviously set in Barcelona (see film title), as well as some beautiful little towns outside it like Avilés and Oviedo, and it reminded me why I wanted to live in a different part of the world. To see incredible beauty, different to what we have in Australia. To surround myself in history, and culture, and languages that I don’t understand (but will endeavour to learn). To be the carefree woman riding a bicycle down a dusty road to have vino and cheese and bread for lunch with someone I just met (like in so many European movies!).
So I thought about it and came up with the 10 places/adventures that I most want to experience while I am over there. Not all of them are the stuff that romantic movies are made of, but they will be part of my journey nonetheless!
In a list from 10 up to numero uno:
10. Visit EuroDisney.
Mainly because I have never been to a Disney park, and there is nothing like rediscovering your childhood! It’s located in France (about 35 minutes from Paris by train) and since there are a couple of other things I want to do in Paris while I’m there (and can get £69 return tickets by train from London), why not?
EuroDisney – one of millions of castles around Europe, but this one has real princesses!
9. Sleep in a castle. Preferably haunted.
Firstly, sleeping in a 14th century castle, pretty cool right? Add in a four poster bed, a murdered ghost and a nice breakfast the next morning and you’ve got a pretty amazing experience right there!
This is Ackergill Tower in Scotland. It boasts several murders in a family feud, and is haunted by the beautiful Helen Gunn who was abducted by the other feuding family and either jumped or fell from the tower, trying to escape.
8. Hang out in Paris.
Last time I was in Paris I was only there for a few days, and I missed out on so much! I want to explore the Louvre again, visit the Musée d’Orsay, chill out in Montmartre, see Versailles, admire Notre Dame from the inside, and stroll once more through the midnight fruit & veg markets in the Latin Quarter.
The beautiful Latin Quarter in Paris, tends to be filled with students and bohemian types.
7. Rock out with the Beatles in Liverpool.
Yes, I am a massive Beatles fan, and yes, I will be doing the Beatles tour in Liverpool. They take you on a Magical Mystery Tour to Penny Lane, Strawberry Fields the Beatles homes and places they hung out at, met at and performed! There is even ‘A Day In The Life’ all day tour that I might splurge out on! Then I truly will know whether or not I Am The Walrus.
The Beatles Story museum in Liverpool, England.
6. Soak in the Blue Lagoon, Reykjavik.
I first heard about Reykjavik because of an amazing Icelandic band called Sigur Rós. After watching their own documentary Heima, a showcase of their music and their stunning country, I immediately wanted to go there. I then heard that they have a rockin’ mayor Jón Gnarr, leader of the Best Party (satirical political party devoted to making life more fun) who is happy to appear in drag at their Pride parade! Really, he deserves his own post. Please look him up. Anyway, the Blue Lagoon is a geothermal spa which is fed by the water output from the nearby geothermal power plant which provides electricity. Relaxing and environmental!
The Blue Lagoon Geothermal Spa, with Svartsengi Power Station in the background.
5. Visit Torchwood Headquarters in Cardiff.
Is anybody else out there a massive Doctor Who fan? I also love the spinoff series Torchwood, which has its headquarters in Cardiff, Wales. I want to stand on the right square near the fountain at Roald Dahl Plass and imagine that I too will suddenly be camouflaged by a perception filter and take the lift down into The Hub. I am a sci-fi nerd, yes. Also, the rest of Wales looks lovely.
BAD WOLF. Watch Doctor Who if you don’t understand me.
4. Ride in a Hot Air Balloon in Cappadocia, Turkey.
I just can’t think of a better place to ever go Hot Air Ballooning. Firstly, you get to overlook the amazing ‘fairy chimneys’ where people carved houses and lived in the rocks. Secondly, the sight of so many hot air balloons in pretty colours in the air at once is just gorgeous too! Thirdly, the rest of Turkey is incredibly rich in history and landscape, and I really can’t wait to organise a trip there.
Can you think of anything better to do? Really?
3. Visit a Greek Island. Perhaps two or three even.
I know that it’s stereotyped and typical and everybody does it. But there has to be a reason why! I have seen so many movies and books and photos of the Greek Islands and I just can’t wait to plan a trip. I want to maybe do a boat that goes around a few of them, but I also want to hunker down in one place for a few weeks, drinking ouzo and eating dolmades every night and soaking up the culture. I can even imagine myself sun baking and getting a nice golden tan! Well. Maybe that’s a bit extreme.
A friend of mine stayed here in Mykonos for a few weeks last year, and said it was absolutely not a cliche but a must-do!
2. Live in an Italian Villa for a month or two.
I don’t necessarily have a particular part of Italy in mind. It can be San Gimignano in Florence, or Assissi (one of my favourite spots in the world so far), or Siena or Ravello in the Amalfi Coast. I don’t care, I just want to soak it up and live like a local. Find a beautiful Italian to have picnics with. Drink red wine at 11am. Write. Paint. Pick flowers while wearing a floppy hat. I want it all!
Where I will be so incredibly inspired with creativity that I will be positively glowing with it. Then a beautiful Italian will fall in love with me and I will write a best-selling book about it which will become another one of those movies you don’t watch for the plot but for the scenery.
And finally, numero uno!
1. Enrol in Hogwarts.
1. Have my breath taken away by the Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights)
When I was looking for pictures, it took me about 15 minutes just to make myself stop looking at them. They are breathtaking, amazing, incredible and five dozen other descriptive words. The best places to see them in Europe are Greenland, Iceland, Finland, Sweden and Norway. If the wonder and awe of the lights in the sky isn’t enough, there is usually specially-built luxury lodges near the best Aurora Borealis viewing spots, and other awesome activities like reindeer feeding (especially if you go to Finnish Lapland!), snowmobiling and husky sledding! I’ll be taking a couple of photography lessons though before I go to do this one.
I’m sure that I will have many more adventures than just these ten, and I’m glad I did this exercise – it’s made me remember why I so desperately wanted to be on that side of the word in the first place.