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The internet is a crazy place – there’s nothing you can’t find on it! From countless reviews of hotels to detailed itineraries, everything is available at the tap of a finger. The sheer amount of information means we spend innumerable hours poring over potential itineraries, chalking out every last detail of an upcoming trip. Then there is the recent proliferation of blogs and travel-related websites. They seduce you with photos and lure you into dreaming of faraway destinations.
But something’s missing! The greatest irony is that this sheer mass of information that is meant to coax people into travelling the world has made voyeurs of us all. We click on adventure after adventure whilst sipping on our morning tea, read regaling tales of exotic cities on our laptops, and peruse endless photos of picturesque locations – all from the confines of tiny cubicles in our respective offices. Those cubicles are our safety net, if you may.
Now we are by no means suggesting you stop reading said travel blogs (Beware – we’ll hunt you down if you ever stop reading Bruised Passports 😉 ). No! But let this article tempt you into making that leap of faith and travelling the world. Why you ask? Here’s the thing – reading about somebody else’s travels is all well and good but there’s a special quality about travelling that even the most articulate travel writer can’t put into words – it’s the SMELL of travel.
We’ve been travelling for over 6 years now. In that time Vid and I have visited over 300 cities in 42 countries. This article might never end if we started penning the highlights of our journey but here are 10 things that need to be experienced to be believed – reading about them just won’t do!!
#1 Sleeping in an igloo in Switzerland
Earlier this year we spent a night in an igloo – a REAL igloo! We were so taken in by it that we wrote an entire article about our experience at Iglu Dorf, Switzerland. We included so many photos in that article and swooned about the fact that we were warm (almost too warm) despite sleeping on a bed made of ice.
But nothing comes close to the real experience. It’s hard to explain how clean the air feels at such a high altitude, how the smell of buttery popcorn and warm wine is more enticing that most gourmet meals when one is huddled up on a stool carved out of ice, how snug arctic-style sleeping bags feel, and how it is actually possible to feel entirely disconnected from the world when one is in an igloo village surrounded by miles and miles of pillowy snow 🙂
The two of us in our igloo in Switzerland
Our room for the night 🙂 (photo – Iglu Dorf)
#2 Learning a local chef’s secrets in Cambodia
Back in February we raved about a cooking class we took in Siem Reap. We even included it in our favourite things to do in Siem Reap. Yes we tried to describe our exact emotions as the coconut curry bubbled away – but you had to be there to smell the fragrant herbs we picked from the garden before the class, experience the sensual way in which the chef roughly tore leaves of thai basil and lemongrass before making us smell each herb, and hear the rhythmic pounding of the pestle and mortar we used to grind those herbs.
How is one to smell those things over the internet? For an assault of the olfactory kind, you need to go travelling 🙂
Getting our paws grubby during a cooking class in Cambodia
#3 Counting Clouds in Iceland
Rarely do you chance upon a country where each attraction is prettier than the last. There are waterfalls like you’ve never seen them before, landscapes right out of a fairy tale, mysterious volcanic caves, and glaciers that go on for miles. Obviously you marvel.
Then, you chance upon that secret spot where there’s nothing – no waterfalls, no caves, no mountains. It’s the spot that has no tricks up its sleeve. There are no cars, houses, or people for miles. But there are wild flowers. Hundreds of thousands of them. They entice you into lying down on the grass. From there you sink deeper and deeper into a space where ipods, books, and notepads seem irrelevant. The material world seems far away. You just dream and count clouds …. till those clouds give way to stars. You come away a different person, you really do 🙂
We didn’t make that up – it really happened 🙂
#4 Getting lost in a souk in Morocco
Of course travelling isn’t all about tranquil spaces, friendly people, and fragrant herbs. Sometimes it comes laden with chaos, hustle-bustle, hawkers, and loads of flavour. Marrakech is one such city. Visiting Marrakech is akin to standing in the middle of the vortex with vendors, shopkeepers, snake charmers, and magicians rushing at you from all sides. It is an assault to the senses like no other and is bound to throw you off balance. But its frenetic rhythm is what makes it special and indescribable – you need to be there to experience it! If it’s your first time there or you’re there for a short weekend break, try to opt for a group tour of Marrakech – we love the foodie weekend offered by The Flash Pack 🙂
The vibrance and chaos of Marrakech is special
#5 Attending the Malaga Feria in Spain
There’s no better reason to travel than to meet like-minded locals in countries across the world. And what better place to meet locals and make friends than a massive street party? While the Oktoberfests and Tomorrowlands of the world continue to grab eyeballs, we have a soft spot for local celebrations like the Annual Malaga Feria. Every year, thousands of Spaniards don their best dresses and partake in a week-long carnival. Free-flowing Sangria, flamenco dances, giant carousels, horse-rides, and tapas bars set the tone for the week, which culminates in a crazy party on the last night. It’s impossible to articulate the frenzied rhythm of the Malaga Feria or the smiles on peoples’ faces in words – you need to book a flight to Spain for that!
Tapaseria at the Feria Ground – The Malaga Feria is an experience you’ll remember for years to come
#6 Walking under the sea in Mauritius
Has anybody ever been able to put the adrenalin rush that follows a bungee jump or sky dive into words? Probably not!
So how is one to describe the commotion inside one’s head as one lets go of the last step of a ladder suspended deep into the sea, looks around to find oneself surrounded by fish that tickle the palm of one’s fingers as they congregate around for morsels of fish food. How can a travel writer describe the trepidation and elation one feels when one is suspended so deep under the water that it’s impossible to see anything except playful fish and hear anything except the sound of one’s own breath. How? How? How?
You NEED to experience the undersea walk to believe it!!
#7 Halting for a lioness to cross the road in South Africa
We drove close to 5000 kms in South Africa and passed townships, national reserves, safari reserves, vineyards, towns, and villages. We chronicled the whole trip on Bruised Passports. But tell us, dear reader, how are we to chronicle the trepidation we felt when a lioness crossed our tracks.
Vid was the one driving at the time. He was forced to apply a sudden brake – both of us sank into our seats, our hearts in our mouths. Meanwhile, the lioness stretched out leisurely in the middle of the track, just inches away from us. She ambled to a puddle of water by the road and started lapping it up thirstily. This went on for minutes. She licked her lips and seconds later, she’d disappeared into the bush.
To experience the rush that follows when your eyes meet a wild animals’ eyes for a split second, you need to travel….
Encounter with a thirsty lioness in South Africa
#8 Getting lost in a small town in Italy
Nothing beats the romance of a small town in Italy – crumbling buildings, old men chatting over espressos, vintage vespas, gelaterias at every corner, and the food! Over the years, all of us have probably consumed (pun fully intended!) dozens of articles about picturesque Italian towns and drooled over endless photos of rustic Italian food. At Bruised Passports alone we’ve written almost a dozen articles about Italy. But we’ll just say this, nothing comes close to following the whiff of freshly-baked breads with half-closed eyes around town, running one’s fingertips along neglected (yet gorgeous!) buildings, meeting a passionate Italian cook who loves her craft, or twirling under the Italian sun… just because!! 🙂
Discovering crumbling buildings in Italy
#9 Experiencing jaw-dropping views in Croatia
Travelling in Croatia is akin to walking into an HD television with the colours turned on full blast. Whether it is the cascading waterfalls of Plitvice National Park or the iconic orange roofs of Dubrovnik, Croatia is bound to charm the most sceptical of travellers. Yes you can peruse photos of scenic waterfalls and UNESCO Heritage Sites but you’ve got to be there to realise how it feels to stand at the highest point of Plitvice National Park and drink in a 360 degree panorama of waterfalls on every side or have the wind knocked out of you when you first spot the city of Dubrovnik ringed by the azure water of the Mediterranean Sea.
Plitvice National Park in Croatia
The Croatian city of Dubrovnik surrounded by stunning blue water
#10 Walking into a fairy tale in Northern Ireland
The best for the last? Perhaps! The countryside of Northern Ireland is probably one of the least talked about and most magical spaces in the world. You will spot sheep snoozing in the sun, cascading streams, fairy-tale parks, and utopian cottages . The languorous rhythm of the countryside in this part of the world makes one realise what’s truly important – spending time with loved ones, long walks in the country, exploring historically-laden sites – y’get the idea! We wrote two articles about our amazing road trip in Northern Ireland and kept referring to it as a place ‘peppered with fairy dust’. That’s as close as we can come to articulating its magic – you need to book flights to experience its luscious sublimity in person 🙂
Northern Ireland – right out of a fairy-tale
There you have it – travelling extensively is bound to dispel your prejudices, make you tolerant, and educate you in a way that nothing else can. You get one life – grab it with both hands while you still can 😀 Even scientific research has proven that collecting experiences, not things makes humans happy. Here’s some food for thought :-
Whatever you do, don’t let excuses cloud your judgement. Worried about the lack of money? Travellers like Agness and Cez travel the world for less that $25 dollars/day. Suffer from a disability? Cory travels the world on a wheelchair. Worried about being a solo female traveller touring through developing and under-developed countries? If Shivya can do it, so can you. Worried about travelling with your kids? Caz and Craig travel with 2 daughters and the Zapps have been on the road for 14 years with 4 kids. The answer is simple – If you enjoy travelling or dream about travelling, just get off that couch and do it!
For we can use all the adjectives in the world but we would never be able to convey the enticing ways of forgotten alleys, the beguiling rhythm of the sea at the panoramic point where a continent ends, or the wafting smell of spices in the air as a street food vendor puts together a local delicacy ………. for that you’ll have to TRAVEL THE WORLD 🙂
Now you know what makes us happy 😉
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