Given it’s been four months since I’ve been on a plane (the one-hour joy ride from Melbourne to Adelaide totally doesn’t count), the travel bug is well and truly biting, leaving big Sicily-sized welts on my heart. The doctor tells me* that treatment for acute travelitis consists of writing out the 10 destinations that you want to visit the very most and then doodle little hearts around it.
Here are the 10 travel destinations currently fighting for dream space with Zac Efron (and you’ll just need to imagine the little hearts I’ve mentally drawn):
* General medical advice only. Please consult a doctor for specific cases.
1. New York City, United States
To me, visiting New York City is on par with eating hazelnut ice cream topped with Nutella – dream-flippin-tastic! Yet, some how, despite being at the top of my travel crush list for the past decade, the likes of Chennai, India, have bumped it out of formal date contention. I still dream of nothing more than to devour some authentic NYC bagels, picnic in Central Park, stare dreamily up at Brooklyn Bridge and follow in the footsteps of Carrie Bradshaw.
2. Shanghai, China
A casserole pot of exoticness, history, creative flair, glamour and excess, Shanghai is infinitely appealing because of its seamless blend of east and west; old meets new. Behind the shiny modern metropolis veneer lies pockets of its colonial past, particularly around the Bund, an ostentatious curve of colonial-era buildings lining the western bank of the Huangpu River, which is what I’d be hopping straight for. Plus any city nicknamed the ‘Paris of the East’ has my FULL attention.
3. Havana, Cuba
A city stuck in the 1950s that’s a contradictory mix of neglect and creativity; Havana is fascinating. Yet, with Cuba and the US finally opening up relations and travel trade, it’s not lost on me that the time to visit this timewarped capital is now. At the top of my to-do list is cruising the Malecón ocean boulevard in a vintage car, wandering around the Plaza de Armas and taking in the open-air cabaret show that is the world-famous Tropicana, which, in true Cuban style, is still also reminiscent of it ‘50s heyday.
4. Barcelona, Spain
Why wouldn’t I aspire to eat all the jamón I want in a real Barcelona tapas bar? (Sorry, Bomba). Add in the city’s medieval lanes and archietectural treasures, a truly fascinating history, bucket loads of Spanish wine (oh my tempranillo!), a notorious nightlife and a seaside Mediterranean location, and you have yourself a travel dream in a bottle.
5. Cinque Terre, Italy
What’s not enticing about exploring a collection of old seaside fishing villages strung along the Italian Riviera coastline, where fishing boats bob in the harbour, dramatic coastal walks are a dime a dozen, and dinner consists of baked stuffed mussels and freshly made seafood lasagna? Holy dooly, I’m hungry just thinking about it!
6. St Petersburg, Russia
How do I describe the draw of St Petersburg? It could be the art and culture, married up in the prospect of spending long days at the Hermitage and Russian Museum (housed in a palace no less!). It could be the Imperial palaces and buildings, the summer white nights or the idea of a boat tour down the Neva River. Or perhaps it’s the history that I find disturbingly haunting. Whatever it is, St Petersburg has left its mark on me.
7. Tokyo, Japan
Tokyo is another city that harbours a kaleidoscope of old traditions and futuristic obsessions. Neon-lit streetscapes, skycrapers, mega-malls and an amazingly efficient public transport belie ancient tea ceremonies and traditional udon stands, among other time-honoured Japanese traditions. It’s this cocktail of old and new that’s got me hooked, as is the guaranteed eye feast that is cherry blossom trees in bloom (occurs in Tokyo in April). Plus, I need to put seven years of Japanese lessons to good use and prove that I know my konichiwas from my ohayou gozaimasus.
8. Hanoi, Vietnam
A city wrapped in layers of history and culture, Hanoi has weaved its way into number eight spot on my travelitis list. Although it’s more likely that Donald Trump will become America’s next president than convincing my surf-crazed husband to visit a surf-less Asian city. Who needs surf when you have the vibrant street markets of the Old Quarter, history on steroids and the option to cruise along Halong Bay on a junk boat?
9. Hawaii, all of it
A hidden oasis in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, Hawaii sucks me in with its turquoise waters, golden sands, natural beauty, hula dancing, Hawaiian music and volcanoes. Just like I couldn’t say no to a beckoning Zac Efron, I can’t say no to a beach holiday where I’d spend the days paddle-boarding and the evenings Mojito-sipping.
10. San Francisco, United States
There’s something quite romantic about San Francisco, with its hilly terrain, Victorian rowhouses and the Golden Gate Bridge disappearing underneath a cloud of fog. My, no doubt ridiculously detailed, travel itinerary would involve catching a cable car for the hell of it, taking a ferry to Alcatraz and watching the sea lions goof around Fisherman’s Wharf, before ending the day at one of the city’s speakeasies or vintage saloons. The next day I’d be on my way to wine country – Napa Valley – quicker than you can say cabernet.
BTW, culling this list to 10 destinations was harder than going on a juice cleanse!
What’s on your top 10? Share it below.