15 special spots I dream myself back to while being locked down
It has currently been more than three weeks since I left the building where I live here in Madrid. The current Coronavirus lock-down restrictions have made me a “prisoner” in my own home, and my only lifeline to the world beyond the walls is my girlfriend’s occasional trips to the supermarket. And, of course, the mighty internet which we very fortunate to have installed in our new flat the day before it all went crazy.
This is crazy times indeed like we’ve never experienced them before, and we could be stuck in our flat for at least another month. A tough situation for anyone, and being a travel writer isn’t exactly ideal when you can’t… travel.
On the bright side, this situation has given me extra time to reflect and cherish all my past trips and travel memories, so I thought I’d compile a little list of some special spots around Europe that I dream of while having my travel-itchy wings temporarily clipped.
Check it out, and you might get some inspiration for future travels, once it will be possible again…
Ærøskøbing, Ærø, Denmark
Let’s start in my home country of Denmark, where I just recently discovered the pleasures of the small island of Ærø (Aeroe, if you want to escape our crazy Danish letters). And this despite it being a relatively short journey away from my home town of Odense on the bigger island of Fyn (Funen).
Ærø is part of the South Funen Archipelago and it only takes a short ferry ride from Svendborg or Faaborg to make it to Ærøskøbing. This is the island’s main town which is dominated by colourful “dollhouses” along idyllic cobbled streets. And it has quickly become one of my favourite parts of Denmark.
île de la Cité, Paris, France
Last time I summed it up, I had been visiting Paris on 13 different occasions, whether by car, bus, train or plane. A few times have been on Interrail-trips around Europe and Paris has long been one of my absolute favourite cities.
Now, it’s currently been 8 years since I last visited though, which is hard for me to believe, and I dearly miss exploring the city and enjoying my favourite spots. One of the many is the tip of île de la Cité, which is one of the little islands in the River Seine. A perfect spot for an improvised picnic or to take in the sunset in the heart of the French capital.
SEE ALSO: My 3 favourite sunset-spots in Paris
Roath Park, Cardiff, Wales
I’ve lived in the Welsh capital of Cardiff several times and each time Roath Park has been my go-to place to disconnect and find peace. Especially the large lake surrounded frequented by hundreds of geese, swans and other birds.
Cardiff is one of Europe’s overlooked capitals and among its many interesting features, this green city is blessed with some lovely city parks and recreational areas. I used to live just a 15-minute walk from Roath Park, which is a must-chill-area if you visit Cardiff.
Porthgain Harbour, Pembrokeshire, Wales
While staying in nearby Trefin, Porthgain was the nearest hike down the stunning coastline. A place to treat yourself for a pint or an ice cream in the sun or browse through some lovely little galleries of painted coastal-scapes.
SEE ALSO: A Dane with a dragons heart
Bergün, Graubünden, Switzerland
It was during a press trip to Switzerland a few years ago that I ended up in the snow-covered town of Bergün in Graubünden. My colleagues and I were travelling on the Bernina Express train and this lovely little mountain town was one of our stops.
The town was surrounded by jagged alpine peaks, the roofs were covered in a thick layer of snow and combined with the silence, this made it all seem incredible peaceful.
Arthurs Seat, Edinburgh
While working temporarily at a hostel in Edinburgh, my girlfriend and I got to enjoy the surroundings of the Scottish capital. This atmospheric city enjoys a unique location among seven hills with one of the most prominent being Arthur’s Seat in Holyrood Park.
This is a great hike from downtown Edinburgh and once on top, you’ll have spectacular views across the city and the ocean nearby.
Jardim António Borges, São Miguel, Azores (Portugal)
Despite being unlucky with the weather, I had a blast exploring The Azores of Portugal in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. What a spectacular “corner” of Europe, that for the most part seems to be surprisingly overlooked.
The Azores consists of 9 volcanic islands with the main one being São Miguel. Here, in the capital city of Ponta Delgada, I discovered the delights of the botanical garden, Jardim António Borges. An exotic spot offering shade and peace among anaconda-looking roots of giant rubber trees.
Portas do Sol, Lisbon, Portugal
Just before the lockdown, I had the pleasure of visiting the Portuguese capital for the third time within a year. Its colours, patterns and textures make it a highly photogenic city.
Lisbon is full of special spots, but one of my favourites (despite attracting many tourists) is the viewpoint of Portas do Sol in the highly located Alfama neighbourhood. A spot offering breathtaking views of the surrounding red rooftops and the wide Tajo River. The perfect place to start a hike up through the narrow streets nearby.
McCaig’s Tower, Oban, Scotland
Scotland is such a special place and not at least its mythical Highlands. And it was on an incredible train journey on the West Highland Line that I ended up in Oban on the west coast.
This colourful harbour town offers a unique atmosphere and I got to take it all in from its “crown” of McCaig’s Tower. A circular ruin overlooking the town, Oban Bay and the northern tip of Kerrera Island. Definitely worth the short hike up.
Glastonbury Tor, Glastonbury, England
While Glastonbury is famous for its iconic music festival, the town itself is dominated by spiritual shops offering palm reading and soul-cleansing crystals. Indeed a unique place to go window-shopping.
But for me, the main attraction is found just a 30-minute walk from downtown at the Glastonbury Tor. A hilltop adorned with a roofless tower offering amazing views across the countryside of Somerset in Southern England. A must-walk, if your spirit ever takes you here.
Port Erin Bay, Port Erin, Isle of Man
I got to explore quite a bit of the island during my visit a few years back, and one spot I really fell for was the bay of Port Erin. This is a lovely little harbour town near the island’s southern tip and from here you can set out on sea expeditions (to see basking sharks) or just chill-out on the sandy beach.
SEE ALSO: Isle of Man: Go sea-exploring with Shona
Lagos de Covadonga, North Spain
If you didn’t know better, you’d think you had ended up in the Swiss Alps, because at Lagos de Covadonga, you have views to mirroring mountain lakes and snow-capped peaks of the Picos de Europa national park.
But this is North Spain, not Switzerland, and the lakes of Covadonga is a highlight in the national park that covers three northern regions; Asturias, Cantabria and Castilla y León. This is one of my favourite areas of the entire Iberian Peninsula.
Parque del Retiro, Madrid, Spain
Madrid is my home at the moment, but due to the Corona-lockdown, I haven’t been outside the building where I live for a month now. This is why I really miss the parks and green areas of the city.
Normally, there are several to choose from, but it’s hard to compete with the wonders of Parque del Retiro. Madrid’s answer to Central Park. From places to go rollerskating to a large boating lake, a glass palace, colourful rose gardens and corners to hide away with a good book, this park simply has it all.
Tjuvholmen, Oslo, Norway
One spot that comes to mind when I think of the city is the neighbourhood of Tjuvholmen set on a peninsula at Oslo harbour. Besides some modern architecture, green areas and a little piece of beach, from here, you have some excellent views of the inner part of Oslo Fjord.
Blautopf, Blaubeuren, Germany
It was during my third Interrail-adventure, in 2012, that I ended up visiting a friend living in the city of Ulm in Southern Germany. And he took me to an almost magical-looking spring at the nearby city of Blaubeuren.
Blautopf literally means ‘Blue Pot’ and this natural spring looks unnaturally blue against its backdrop of the surrounding forest. The spring is funnel-shaped and 21 meters deep and it gets its bright blue colour from limestone particles in the water. No photoshop used.
Where are you dreaming back to while being stuck during the lockdown?
Please share your tips in the comments below…