Dear fellow Babblers,
2017 was a year of great change, heartbreak and hope for me. I finally managed to leave the abuse of my past behind me as I worked on my health and illness. I managed to graduate with Latin Honors as well as make it on the deans list at UCLA, receiving a double bachelors in Comparative Literature and French, with a focus in Art History. I made the greatest decision of my life by leaving everything – mami, papi, Evin, Haruki, my books and basically all that has come to define me – behind and relocated to France. Up until this point in my life I have always considered myself a simple girl with a mean streak, pleased enough to spend weekends at home cuddled up with Haruki and some YA releases. Little did I know that by moving halfway across the world I would discover a soul, that was bursting to free itself from inside my very body.
Fast-moving, barely containable, heart skipping Wanderlust. From the moment I stepped out of Charles de Gaulle airport all but five months ago I have discovered, and continue to unravel the belly-aching yearning that I have suppressed for so long. I have been surviving off of story worlds and fictional figures which, all up until now, have quenching my desire for faraway places and gleaming possibilities. Until now, I have stood on the outside, blocked from life in these dreams by a blurred out screen preventing me from mattering. Wanderlust has given everything books, despite my love and attachment to them, has not: a new life of wandering, adventure and freedom to be who I always dreamed of: me.
New Years I was in Agadir, Morocco. I began 2018 as a Wanderer and, not to make any new years resolutions as I don’t follow such short-lived absurdity, I will, not plan, but will continue as my this new spirit has continued to spark inside of me.
2018 will be a year from beginning to end and into the years to come, as endless Wanderings and its my To-Wander Itinerary that I want to share with my fellow Babblers today as we are almost through January.
To-Wander #1: Athens, Greece
The home of gods and goddesses, the inspiration of Disney’s very own Hercules, and sun all year round, the capital of Greece is first on my 2018 travel bucket list. From the history behind the ancient city, dating all the way back to the 5th century, to the breathtaking views the city is known for Athens is a romantic getaway both for couples, as well as solo travelers. I’m especially looking forward to exploring the temples and monuments such as the temple of Olympian Zeus and the Lysikrates Monument.
To-Wander #2: Larnaca, Cyprus
Ever since my recent trip to Morocco, I’ve grown increasingly fascinated by Arabic-speaking countries. However, given all the threats and danger that has sadly been spreading throughout much of the middle east and the north African countries, wandering there, especially as a solo woman traveler, makes it a bit risky. That’s not to say that I won’t go, as I won’t let anything deter me from following where my spirits lead me. Only that extra precautions must be taken.
Anyway. Cyprus is technically a middle eastern country even though the tiny island, lost in the Mediterranean, doesn’t immediately come to mind when we think about the middle east. It contains lots of history, being a land long fought over by the Greeks and Turks, not too far off, but of all the countries in the area, Cyprus is without a doubt, the most secure and safest.
Larnaca is a seaside city, known for its cafes and festive night life. There aren’t many huge monuments or sites to see apart from the Church of Saint Lazarus, the Catacomb of Phaneromeni Church as well as a couple others but that’s what really is drawing me to visit the city. Beauty can be found in all place. We do not need the Eiffel Tower, Disneyland, or a strip of casinos to define the beauty of a place. The place itself is the beauty.
To-Wander #3: Tel Aviv, Israel
Tel Aviv, yet another city to bring me back to the Mediterranean coastline. A global city with one of the largest economies’ in the world, Tel Aviv screams tourists and crowds but also life and culture, being known as the “party capital” of the Middle East…at least according to Wikipedia – lol. This is a city that attracts artists, musicians, street urchins from all around for its liberal vibes, modern architecture, and sunny days and warm nights.
To-Wander #4: Phuket, Thailand
This beach destination enjoys the benefits of southern vibes – beachside promenades with the potential for island hopping, crisp sand, winding palm trees, serene atmosphere – all the while remaining a cozy and humble getaway for travelers seeking a quiet and tranquil solace for the business of Bangkok. Everything about the city as Google images seems to offer, screams PHOTOGENIC – perfect destination for traveling bloggers out there looking to visit Asia, as I am. Emerald-green waters, overarching cliffs, almost-golden Buddha statues, vibrantly flashing city lights, Phuket is a landscape full of sensory that I’m sure to be enchanted by.
To-Wander #5: Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam
Traveling to Vietnam never even occurred to me before my day-long Anthony Bourdain binge. It was he that came home from the tiny country claiming that Vietnam changed his life from the country’s non european like coffee to its traditional diet of pho and fresh veggies I’m in the initial steps of planning my very first ever backpacking journey through this exotic and, at least for me, uncanny landscape bunched up between Cambodia and Laos.
To-Wander #6: Chefchaoeun, Morocco
I recently returned from Morocco, but didn’t have the time to visit every city that I wanted to so I plan on returning to this humble and beautiful country in April. Better known as the “Blue City”, Chefchaoeun, is a magical city located in the northwest of the North African country, inland of Tangier. Like most foreigners, what attracts me most to this town is its beautiful buildings, painted in numerous shades of blue, all serving as a reminder to the dark days of WWII when the Jews were seeking refuge from Hitler. As a photographer this is definitely a place like no other for color and luminescent contrast. And then as a shop-till-I-drop shopper, authentic treasures such as spices, hand spun carpets, and delicate Berber jewelry are enough to attract visitors from all over the world.
To-Wander #7: Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
So do any of you have that one absolute obsession with a particular far off place for no other reason than it just sort of makes you dream? Dream more than any other place can, despite your not knowing anything about it other than the mysterious feelings it evokes in you ? Well this is Abu Dhami for me: a magical world of mosques, palaces, old school heritage, and conservative traditions – a complete step away from what most of us are used to. Abu Dhabi has a deep-rooted past and quickly evolving future from the growth of art in the metropolis to the changes made politically across the country. The history of the country traces back centuries but can all be equally sensed in the aesthetically built streets and humble inhabitants.
To-Wander #8: Vienna, Austria
Skydiving. This is really what is drawing me to the Eastern European country. With one of the greatest drop zones in the world along with a long, long, really long, intellectual history Austria is definitely a country worth visiting, if only for a few days. The capital, Vienna, is especially attractive for art lovers for its large museum quarter housing masterpieces from well-known artists such as Gustav Klimt.
To-Wander #9: The Bahamas
I’m a Cali girl, okay? Sun, beaches, fruity drinks are in my blood. So many European countries just haven’t been my cup of tea lately, as I’ve frozen my rear off and have had to resort to endless layers of waterproof jackets and beanies. I’ll be returning briefly to the States for about two months to spend July and August with my family. So what better time to indulge in the tropics than during this period? I’ve never wandered through the Caribbean, and the Bahamas seems just the place for some much needed beachside promenades, margaritas for breakfast and endless sunbathing.
I’m currently in the process of convincing my sister (with a great many threats -lol) to join me on this venture. But, of course, this girl has her eye south towards Mexico. Not for the beaches, the humble people, or to visit our origins. No, this girl just wants tamales…Goodness, as if she can’t simple go to Taco Bell…
To-Wander #10: Edinburgh, Scotland
A hilly capital of cliffs, castles and cascading streets of cobblestone, Edinburgh looks like stepping into a dusty fairytale lost in time. This beauty’s literary and artistic heritage makes it a popular tourist destination for aesthetics like me looking for adventure. There are galleries, festivals and nature activities with every turn. No lie, I kinda just want to go here because the photos remind me of Narnia – lol.
This belly aching wanderlust has ferociously taken hold of my spirit. Just sitting here typing this post has got me dreaming up all the other places I would also like to experience. With time, such places will be realized and every culture out there, will be much for than a dream for me, it will be a reality.
(Image credits go to Pinterest)