Eight things that you need to know about me when I travel.
1. If there is a tower I have to climb it!
Wherever I am in the world, I do love to find a view of the town that I am in, so if I can find a tower, then I am definitely going up. In fact it’s a priority. Wonky steps, claustrophobic stairwells, even ladders – 300 steps you say? Let me at them. I’m not saying that I always enjoy the climb (there have been times when I have been shaking the whole way!) but I always enjoy the view when I get there. I even made myself late for a coach when visiting Tuscany with a tour group. They took me to the Leaning Tower of Pisa and then said that there wasn’t time to climb it! I mean – seriously?
2. I hate having my photo taken.
One thing that you won’t find on this blog or on my Instagram account is photos of me. Selfies? No thank you! I hate photos of myself and so much prefer to be behind the lens. In fact, it isn’t the process of having my photo taken that is the problem… it is the end result which I am rarely happy with. Also, I am not the kind of traveller who takes her best clothes on a trip. I tend to have a travel wardrobe consisting of comfortable clothes from companies like North Face and Craghoppers, so I am never going to look amazing in my holiday snaps. Seriously, who takes a dress and heels to Machu Picchu…? When I reach an ancient site which would be selfie-worthy, I tend to be a sweaty windswept mess particularly if I am somewhere hot. I am always a little bit in awe of people who look amazing in their travel pics.
3. I like to wander.
When I arrive in a new place, I often want to see it on foot where possible and I don’t always particularly need to use a map. I just like to explore and see where it takes me. Obviously, I am not going to do this anywhere that is unsafe or really huge, but generally that is the way that I want to see a little town or village. If I travel with other people, they seem to find this unnerving. They want a plan and repeatedly ask me where I am going next and what I want to do. I just want to wander and explore I tell them. I don’t have a plan. This response is rarely agreeable to them, so I have found that when in a wandering mood, I prefer to wander alone. Some of my best memories are from these aimless explorations for example in Dubrovnik, Krakow and Luang Prabang (Laos) to name a few.
4. I get bored sitting on a beach.
I wish that I was happy to while away the hours sitting on a sun bed, but generally I get bored very quickly. As said above, I like to wander and would prefer to be doing this than sitting doing nothing. I realised long ago that my fair skin was never going to tan, no matter how many hours that I baked it for, so that is another reason not to bother. I will spend an hour or so sitting reading, but after that I will be on the hunt for somewhere to go or something to do. If I visit a country and have only seen the beach by the time I leave, then I don’t really feel that I have learned anything about that country at all.
5. I am not a morning person.
I am more likely to have photos of a sunset than a sunrise! I am definitely more of a night owl and find early mornings a struggle (apparently it is a gene that makes you a night owl or an early bird, so I clearly cannot help it!). If you ever find me sitting with you at a breakfast table, then please don’t try to engage me in lively conversation! My best breakfasts are conducted in silence. To engage with others, I have to get up extra early so that I have had at least an hour in which to wake up before attempting anything that resembles normal conversation. I do get up ridiculously early for the sake of travel: early morning flights, sunrise at Machu Picchu, a 3am journey to Abu Simbel… the list goes on. Just don’t expect me to talk to you till I am ready!
6. I am a very light sleeper
I rarely share a room with anyone. Over the years, I have learned that a room of my own is the kindest thing for me and the person I am sharing with. So no hostel stays in shared dormitories and no sharing a room if I am with a tour group. Whatever the single supplement costs…I am paying it! If I share a room with someone else (a stranger or a friend that I don’t know very well) then I do not get a wink of sleep and then I am even more irritable come the morning! I could tell you about many nights that I have spent awake around the world: shared tents in the desert, countless overnight train journeys in Asia and in ryokans in Japan. The problem is that other people make a noise – they toss and turn in bed, some of them snore, they get up to go to the toilet and even the sound of them breathing is enough to keep me awake! Equally, I don’t cope very well with noise in the corridor and outside the window in hotels and sleeping on a plane even for a night flight is impossible. Yes, I have tried ear plugs and no, they don’t help! Just knowing there is someone else in the room is enough. Strangely in all of this though, put me on a coach and I am out like a light! There have become some trips when a daily coach or bus journey has been a necessity for me to fit in a nap. Clearly the motion of a coach does the trick.
7. I am such a tourist!
I do love going to unusual and out of the way places and have often been to places that aren’t in the guide books and are tourist free. There is nothing more amazing than mixing with the locals and getting under the skin of a country which I think is really important. I am also not really interested in ‘ticking off’ a country. When I visit somewhere I really want to feel that I have spent as much time as possible exploring it. I don’t enjoy trips that involve multiple countries as it makes me feel that I haven’t really seen any of them properly. When I visit a country, I want to learn as much as possible about it. I read about it before I go, learn more from locals and local guides while I am there and then read more when I get home. However, I also love being a total tourist. Famous landmark? Tick. Top ten places to visit? Tick. I do want to go home with my photos and memories of the tourist spots – there is a reason that they are popular! I will go and watch the puppet show in Vietnam and the Geisha show in Kyoto and you know what? I will enjoy them both!
8. I am never more happy than when I am travelling.
Visiting somewhere new, whether it is on my doorstep or a plane ride away makes me happy. I love being outdoors and surrounded by nature. I love the sea, I love to hike and I love new experiences. I love to learn and want to know about the History and Geography of places that I visit. I also want to know what it is really like to live in that country. I love to try new foods. Visiting Asia and ordering pizza just doesn’t do it for me! Travel will always put a smile on my face.