Every now and then, usually on the UK Daily Mail, I come across some breathlessly worshipful article about a travel blogger who makes Millions a Year jetting to exotic hot spots and taking selfies. The subjects of such articles are universally young, thin, and tan. They mostly pose on yachts in white bikinis, although sometimes they take a break from selfies to photograph plates of artfully-arranged exotic fruit. These articles always fill me with a destabilizing mix of skepticism and wild envy. On the one hand, I don’t believe for a second that some random nineteen-year-old “stumbled into” a lucrative career as a travel blogger, but on the other hand, I always desperately scan the article for tips on how I, too, could amass eighteen million Instagram followers and rack up the big bucks as I traipse around the Greek Isles with luggage sponsored by Louis Vuitton.
But no one wants to look at Instagram selfies taken by a pasty middle-aged redhead, and I don’t know anyone who owns a yacht, so the closest I will get is the following fantasy blog post about all of the places I long to one day visit. (None of them lend themselves to the wearing of bikinis or the plating of exotic fruits.)
Iona is a tiny island off the Southwest Scottish coast, measuring three miles long and one and half miles wide, with a population of around 120--which is my ideal-sized town! It’s mainly famous for being home to Iona Abbey, one of the oldest Christian centers in Western Europe. I didn’t know anything about this place until I had a rare social lunch with one of my co-workers, who was at a spiritual retreat at the Abbey right around the time that I was in Ireland last October. I was captivated by her tales of the island, and immediately began plotting my move there. (I guess Mr. Typist and Buddy could come, too, after I got settled.) I would buy a little cottage and have hanging vines and a rose garden and wrought-iron lawn furniture. Of course I would be immediately accepted by the locals and invited to big family Sunday dinners every week, and down a few pints in the pub with my mates in the evenings while watching the sun set over the Atlantic. Every now and then, a free-range cow would wander through my garden and trample my begonias so I’d have something to complain about.
Yes, I saw “Lost in Translation”, and yes, I am one of the few people I know who liked it. I’ve wanted to visit Tokyo ever since I saw that film, and Japan in general since I had an old college friend who taught English there and who always had amazing stories about the place. Plus, Seattle and Tokyo are “sister cities”, and, reality-based or not, I’ve always had a warm feeling of affinity with Japan and its people. I’d also love to see the Japanese countryside, although even in my fantasy travel musings, I have no illusions that I would be able to move there and live wholesomely on a misty little farm nestled on a hillside. In my fantasy Japan life, I have a penthouse apartment in Tokyo and some baloney over-paying internet job that would allow me to never leave the house and just hole up eating endless delivery sushi, downing sake, and watching the blinking lights of the city.
The Fjords of Norway
Maybe it’s all the Skyrim leveling, but for some reason, I have come to think of fjords as romantic, and plus I like the word “fjord”. Fjords seem very fresh and healthy-making, like they would clean out my lungs and strengthen my quads and whiten my teeth just by virtue of me being in proximity to them. And there is one fjord in particular with the poetic name of “Sognefjord” that boasts a sightseeing feature called the “Magic White Caves of Gudvangen.” By name alone that’s a tourist trap that is totally irresistible to impressionable me, although according to internet reviews, it’s just sort of “meh.” The pop-up on the site I was looking at for the Magic White Caves asked, “Do you wish to go?”, and I instantly thought, yes! Yes, I wish to go. And that is my answer in life from here out to all things travel-related: Yes, I wish to go.