The new year has started in a slow mode, with more time for reflection and less room for plans. No fix travel plans. No long-term goals. No new year resolution. Maybe a good time for a pause.
After years of strenuous planning, I felt I needed a time-out, a more intimate space, where I am open to making short-term decisions and spontaneously choosing what to do without the pressure of sticking to long-term plans. Nonetheless, I will be enjoying much of the travel anticipation, which is as important as travel itself. I believe that travel anticipation is an essential part of any trip.
By visualising a place, we allow our mind to wander, to spark our wanderlust and shape our traves in our imagination. Anticipation is the best incubator of all my solo adventures. And probably travel wouldn’t be fun without it.
As this definition of anticipation from Alan De Botton says:
“The anticipatory and artistic imaginations omit and compress; they cut away the periods of boredom and direct our attention to critical moments, and thus, without either lying or embellishing, they lend to life a vividness and a coherence that it may lack in the distracting woolliness of the present.” from The Art of Travel Book.
How to choose smart destinations for your bucket list
It’s more our mindset with which we select our destinations that lend the feelings, the pleasure and colours to a place rather than the destination itself. This mindset creates anticipation, which we shall nurture with our energy and positive emotions.
I have picked seven cities that are universal for their flair, for their rich heritage, for their beauty. Some of them have undergone horrendous attack in the past years, they have been hurt in their dignity with the loss of many lives. While it’s natural to feel apprehensive, we must not dwell on the past and move our attention to the memories that distinguish these places for what they are. Wonderful places that have rewarded travellers and residents alike with great emotions and will never disappoint.
Seven smart cities that will live up to the travel anticipation
Venice Italy: A place for reflection
I couldn’t omit Venice from this list. Although it’s right in my backyard, Venice is a place I am very fond of and always rewards me emotionally. After over hundreds of visits – from a local perspective – every time I am there I feel as if I were on holiday! It’s one of those unique places that never tire and disappoint. There is always something new to discover and cherish.
With nearly 30 million visitors per year, Venice will soon introduce some regulations to visit this unique city as sustainable as possible. Best busy, busy time to visit Venice is spring and autumn, trying to avoid peak season and public holidays like Christmas, Easter, Carnival (Feb) and the Redeemer’s Festival (July). I have found June-August less visited than other months due to the hot months, so if you don’t mind touring in summer, I’d probably plan a visit in June-July to Venice.
Paris: the city of lights and amazing contrasts
Paris’ beautiful contrasts make it to a unique capital city of Europe. There is nothing better than walking across Paris’ fantastic street cafe, its hidden corners and welcoming squares. The southern European vibe is well mixed with the grand buildings typical of Northern Europe. I visited in 2014 on the occasion of my 50th birthday and loved it. I highly recommend visiting Paris in summer, if you can make it in June la fète de la music is a fantastic event not to miss out.
Berlin: the top multicultural capital city of Europe
I have been back to Berlin twice in the past two years. With ongoing development projects, Berlin is no. 1 capital city in Europe for its distinctive multicultural flair that you can breathe in everywhere. It’s a hub for cultural events from film festivals to concerts and art exhibitions. It’s not my favourite German city, but I love the excellent vibe and Berliners are friendly and open-minded.
If you love festivals, you must check out this page with all Berlin Festivals.
Prague the most beautiful city in Europe
Prague is probably the most beautiful and affordable city in Europe from the architectural point of view, with very scenic landscape and another fast cosmopolitan-growing city in Eastern Europe. It’s a place that has been on my radar for a while, so you may decide to visit spontaneously in 2019. I would love to visit during the food festival or any other festivals. Check out this post for quirky things to see in Prague.
Singapore: the perfect stop-over city in South East Asia
I visited Singapore last year for the first time. It’s an amazingly safe city for solo travellers with a good combination of European vibe and Asian culture. Good food, spectacular marina and the gardens by the bay is the jewel on the crown of Singapore. I would recommend it to anyone travelling further to Australia or New Zealand. It’s the best city for both a long layover and stopovers ever if you are looking for an invigorating break from the long haul flight.
Ubud Bali: top-notch place for a “remise en forme”
Bali had never been on my list. I had to plan it in, because of my travel visa in Australia was about to expire, I had to leave the country for a few days. Since I was in Perth at that time, I thought this is the right time to visit Bali. July and August are very busy months for a trip. After first disorientation, I liked my stay and despite the roosters’ madness and the thousands of motorbikes on the streets, I found those good places where to hide from the crowds. A great place to treat yourself to a remise-en-form at the best price ever. Ubud is definitely a great place for the solo traveller who is seeking peace and a good rest.
Albany Western Australia: The Pearl of the Southern Ocean
This list would not be complete without an Australian City. Albany in Western Australia s a place that stole my heart. I recently discovered on a solo road trip and loved it. I only had three days to spend, which is way too short to do justice to this place. If you plan a trip to Perth, I would recommend checking it out, although it is a bit difficult to design a spontaneous trip unless you live in Perth.
I would plan ten days to explore South Western Australia, which has some of the most dramatic landscapes I have ever seen in my life.
This is only seven smart destinations that will not disappoint you, that I highly recommend adding to your bucket list for 2019.
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How to plan your Travels
The best way to organise trips to these cities is to go on self-guided trips. Prefer using public transportation unless you want to drive out of the city, or go on a guided day-trips.
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