As we bring in the New Year, I will be more than ready to set sail once more on voyages across the seas, so perhaps it is quite apt that I will be dressed as a pirate, a costume I have to get sorted this week! However, I will be land-bound for much of this year as I train to be a teacher, so I’m going to have to plan my travel pretty carefully indeed. Now, planning ahead is not exactly my strong suit, so this is going to be a bit of a challenge. So I’m starting early, whittling down my wishlist to a few realistic destinations and thinking about short trips close to home that will nevertheless provide some unforgettable experiences.
1. Whale Watching, Scotland
I have long wanted to explore the rugged Northern coast of Scotland and its even more northerly isles and I am desperate to make 2012 the year I finally get out on a boat to try and spot some whales. I have never seen any of these incredible creatures and I am hoping to change that. What could be more wonderful than windswept beaches, solitary lighthouses and time spent out at sea? I need to make this happen.
2. Culture and Wilderness, Ireland
Though it is on the doorstep, as it were, I have never travelled across the Irish sea to this ancient, mystical land, beloved by so many travellers. I have scant excuse for this state of affairs and need to rectify it at the earliest opportunity. There are so many parts of Ireland I would like to see, but even if I can just get a long weekend there to start with, I will be happy. From the Guiness pubs of Dublin to the wild coasts, I want to experience Ireland for myself. Luckily, I think there will be plenty of knowledgeable people to help me plan my trip.
3. Fun and Friends, Copenhagen
I have several friends currently living in Copenhagen, which seems to me like a wonderful reason to pay a visit to the Danish capital. I’ve never been to Scandanavia at all before, so hopefully I can find a time to take a slightly extended break and set foot in Sweden too. Some city culture, a boat trip or two and quality time with friends seem like the perfect ingredients for a European break, so I’m looking forward to getting this one in the diary.
4. Bringing Language Class to Life, Portugal
I studied Portuguese at university and became fascinated by Portuguese culture – but I have still not been to the country itself and it is gnawing away at me. I’m hoping that 2012 will be the year I get to see azulejos (the distinctive ceramic tiles), to imagine that sense of saudade whilst looking out to sea, trying port wine in Porto and bacalhau in Lisbon. I want to feel the lilt of Portuguese on my tongue and listen to the fast and sensuous flow of the language all around me. Portugal, get ready, I’m coming.
5. On Home Turf, England
Finally, I have to accept that 2012 is going to be far more restricted than this year has been and I will take the opportunity to explore my local area. I am determined to use one of my regular Sheffield trips to see more of the Peak District, whilst the Chilterns, quite literally on my doorstep, are an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which I have yet to venture into properly. I need another trip to the beautiful Dorset coast for a photography walk, replacing some pictures of that area which I lost and I think it’s about time I paid a visit to Windsor castle, just down the road. With the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee and the Olympics, it’s a pretty good year to be spending time in Britain, so I plan to make the most of my home country and enjoy all that it has to offer.
So, as midnight chimes at the very moment the last December night becomes the first one of January, and we raise our glasses – and cutlasses – in celebration of the New Year, this voyager will be light of heart and Starry-Eyed at the thought of sailing at least a few seas to lands new. I hope you too have plenty of travels to look forward to in 2012 – Cheers, me hearties!
What are your travel plans for 2012?