There are worse ways to spend an evening in lockdown than watching Julia Roberts search for enlightenment in Italy, India and Bali.
2020 was supposed to be another big year of travel for me, with a four-week Europe trip in August and September including Iceland, the top country on my bucket list of places to go. Safe to say, COVID-19 tore these plans to shreds and there’s no certainty on whether any international travel will be possible this year at all. So I thought I’d look back and blog about one of my most memorable overseas holidays, a solo car trip in New Zealand.
I made it to blog post no. 500! Also, Mum and I had a very enjoyable evening yesterday at the Bill Bryson live stage event at the Palais Theatre. So here are some quotes from his books:
“I can’t think of anything that excites a greater sense of childlike wonder than to be in a country where you are ignorant of almost everything.”
“There are three stages in scientific discovery. First, people deny that it is true, then they deny that it is important; finally they credit the wrong person.”
“I mused for a few moments on the question of which was worse, to lead a life so boring that you are easily enchanted, or a life so full of stimulus that you are easily bored.”
“I understand cricket – what’s going on, the scoring – but I can’t understand why.”
“Of all the things I am not very good at, living in the real world is perhaps the most outstanding.”
“To my mind, the only possible pet is a cow. Cows love you. They will listen to your problems and never ask a thing in return. They will be your friends forever. And when you get tired of them, you can kill and eat them. Perfect.”
“It is easy to overlook this thought that life just is. As humans we are inclined to feel that life must have a point. We have plans and aspirations and desires. We want to take constant advantage of the intoxicating existence we’ve been endowed with. But what’s life to a lichen? Yet its impulse to exist, to be, is every bit as strong as ours – arguably even stronger. If I were told that I had to spend decades being a furry growth on a rock in the woods, I believe I would lose the will to go on. Lichens don’t. Like virtually all living things, they will suffer any hardship, endure any insult, for a moment’s additional existence. Life, in short, just wants to be.”
I’ve never been to Italy before, but I had no doubt that I’d absolutely love it, and surprise, I did.
After having great time on tour in Ireland, I continued the Celtic leg of my holiday with a car trip around Scotland.
I’m finally back from my four-week holiday in Ireland, Scotland and Italy. Since I can’t go back in time, blogging is the next-best way to relive the trip.
“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colours. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
I’ve been to Kangaroo Island almost ten years ago, and in the meantime I forgot just how enormous it really is. Once we got off the ferry, it came as a shock to realise that it would take us about an hour and a half to get to the Flinders Chase National Park on the other end of the island. You also have to plan your meals carefully, as you very well may be stuck an hour’s drive away from the nearest cafe with a growling stomach.
The drive is worth it though, since Kangaroo Island is home to some of the most amazing landmarks in Australia. The absolute star attraction is Remarkable Rocks, a group of giant granite boulders that look like abstract sculptures artfully scattered by nature atop the granite base. I was prepared to enjoy them rain or shine, but the day’s random weather played into our hands; the minute we got to the rocks the showers cleared and the orange lichen looked even more stunning against the blue sky.
In the late afternoon, we just made it to a guided tour of the Seal Bay, where you can see the Australian fur seals. We were lucky to catch them during the season when young seal pups frolic around excitedly and annoy the grown-ups who just want to have a nap.
The next day, we headed to Little Sahara, which is exactly what the name suggests: a mini sand dune area about two square kilometres in size. More active travellers go there for sandboarding, but we were content to just go for a stroll.
Mum and I spent three days in South Australia, and as always we managed to pack a lot into the long weekend at our disposal. Though I still didn’t get a proper look at Adelaide, I at least managed to see more of the city than the time I flew in for a U2 concert years ago, when I pretty much only saw the airport, the stadium, and the interior of the all-night internet cafe. I wouldn’t mind coming back for a third time and exploring it better.
After a brief stop at the Glenelg Beach, we spent time driving around Barossa Valley, stopping at a couple of wineries.
Then we drove to Hahndorf, an obscenely picturesque and quaint small town originally founded by German Lutheran settlers in 1839. It was packed with tourists, but as the day was drawing to a close the streets got a bit more nice and quiet. The main tree-lined street, with old sandstone architecture and flowers everywhere, is very pretty. Of course we just had to have German sausages and sauerkraut for dinner, topped with non-alcoholic beer.