At the time of writing, a great part of the world is under lockdown but imaginary travel is still allowed. So is the planning for a travel bucket list from the comfort of one’s home, or in my case, from the comfort of the kitchen.
While bookshops were still open, I picked up a one-page-a-day desk calendar from Atlas Obscura at my local Waterstone’s. Atlas Obscura is a global community of explorers contributing to a database of quirky and unusual facts, foods and travel destinations. My desk calendar sits on my kitchen table – I don’t have to travel far to enjoy my one-page-a-day over a mug of steaming coffee.
Some culinary tips may be hard to stomach at breakfast. Well, at least for a less than enthusiastic meat-eater like me. One example is the Hot Beef Sundae – mashed potatoes, gravy and roast beef made to look like the famous ice-cream dessert. Normal ice-cream will do just fine for me, thank you very much. But the majority of the travel tips make me feel like just pack up and go.
I try to be disciplined and not to peak. After all, this is meant to be a one-page-per-day calendar. I usually succeed. Most of the time. Since I am (mostly) disciplined, my Atlas Obscura travel bucket list is still rather short. I might publish another post, maybe at the end of 2020, once I have gone beyond April and ripped off the last page.
My Bucket List
Let’s start at home. In London. I might not be a Londoner born and bred, but I have been calling this city home since 1995. I must admit that I have never heard of the Seven Noses of Soho before buying this neat desk calendar. Rumour has it that a large pile of money awaits the lucky person who finds all seven noses. I will be in need of money after the quarantine is over, so the first item to strike off my bucket list will be the search for the Seven Noses of Soho. I will keep you posted if I succeed in my quest.
Let’s stay in Europe. The next item on my list is the Einstein Tower (or Turm in German), a solar observatory based in the Albert Einstein Science Park in Potsdam, Germany. I must admit that I’m more attracted to the building’s modernist architecture than to the science behind it. Form follows function. To each their own.
I’m intrigued, and not just by the fact that the Stoosbahn Funicular is located near a pretty Swiss town which is completely car-free. It gets much better. This funicular is fantastically steep and the cylindrical cabins look like something out of a sci-fi movie. Or a toy shop. It’s all a matter of perspective.
Further afield, in Helensburgh, New South Wales, Australia, visitors can experience a tunnel illuminated by glowworms. I enjoy hiking, and being able to engage in my favourite past-time in the blue surroundings of this natural wonder is an extra bonus. To quote the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service: “On your way back, look for goannas and lyrebirds. If you’re lucky, you may spot a swamp wallaby or koala. During spring and summer, the walking track is dotted with yellow pagoda daisies, while banksias bloom in the cooler months.” I have never heard of goannas and lyrebirds but they sound delightful.
Last but not least, meet the wonderfully sounding Free Spirit Spheres in Qualicum Beach, British Colombia, Canada. They are at the very top of my daughter’s travel bucket list. Any kind of accommodation with the words “free spirit” in the name is likely to evoke feelings of sweet carelessness and limitless abandon. Free to roam, hang out in the trees and leave all earthly worries behind high in the treetops. I haven’t checked the price to avoid shattering the dream. I was planning to stay in a pod (or capsule) hotel in Singapore this summer but all my travel plans were quashed by COVID-19. The Free Spirit Spheres may be similar in terms of space but with the added value of nature and soothing views at the doorstep.
At present, it’s hard to gauge what the future may hold for the travel and tourism industry. But even if most travel plans need to be postponed indefinitely and nothing is certain, I will still enjoy reading about all the quirky locations and interesting facts. If nothing else, it’s distracting and can transport me into a different reality without a face mask or antiseptic hand gel in sight.