‘The land is always there… it is you who has to return.’ – Munia Khan.
I ran into a woman from the Netherlands whilst crossing the Dursey Strait on a cable car to go and walk around Dursey Island. It was one of those chance encounters where we didn’t catch each others names or plan to meet again later, but we walked together for much of the way and chatted aimiably about many things. The weather was pretty bad. Dense fog impeded our vision and ruined our chances of seeing any good views. We both agreed that one day, we’d probably come back and visit the island when the weather was better. It was ‘something to come back for’.
It got me thinking. I’ve been lucky enough to have travelled to twenty four countries so far in my life, and I have reasons for returning to nearly all of those countries. It’s almost become a bit of a mantra for me: well, I can’t do something this time, so it’s something to come back for.
If there is one thing I’ve learnt whilst travelling it is that it’s impossible to see and do everything you want to do on a trip. Anything could affect the trip – weather, sudden illness, money constraints, time limitations… You could even spend eighteen months in one country, as I did in New Zealand, and still have reasons that you want to go back.
There are plenty of countries, regions and cities I need to return to in the future to do what I missed the first time around. Here are just a few…
Reasons to return: New Zealand
There are two main things that I missed out on doing during my time in New Zealand. Both were put on hold either due to money or time, or lack thereof.
I badly want to do the Whanganui River Journey. This is a five day canoe trip that takes you deep into the heart of the Whanganui National Park, well away from civilisation and into complete wilderness. It sounds like my idea of paradise! Since I am planning on heading back to NZ in late 2018 for a while, this will be the perfect opportunity for me to finally take on this trip – perhaps as a challenge for my 30th birthday which I’ll likely be spending in the country…
I also desperately want to do the overnight Doubtful Sound cruise. I visited Milford Sound – Doubtful’s more popular and more accessible counterpart – during my time in New Zealand, but never managed to fit Doubtful Sound in. I’ve heard wonderful things about spending a night on board a boat and kayaking in the sound, so again, when I return in 2018, this is high on my list of priorities of things to do.
Reason to return: St Petersburg
By the time P and I reached St Petersburg, we were pretty ‘churched out’. Russia has countless beautiful churches to visit, with golden dome roofs and colourful freizes inside, and we’d been to a lot of them. We had also just come from Moscow, a prime spot for churches and cathedrals, and we really weren’t in the mood for any more.
So, instead of visiting the Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood when we visited ‘the Venice of the North’, we bypassed it and explored other areas of the city instead, pausing only to take some photos of the beautiful church exterior. Even as we decided not to pay the entrance fee and explore inside, we were saying to one another that this was a good reason to one day come back to St Petersburg.
Reason to return: Lake Baikal
We spent three nights on Olkhorn Island in the middle of Lake Baikal and had a wonderful time exploring the remote and somewhat desolate island and township there. However, as a bit of a train geek, I was annoyed that we did not factor in enough time around Lake Baikal to do the Circum-Baikal Railway from Irkutsk.
Of course, we were spending days at a time on trains at this point (being part way through our Trans-Siberian experience) but this would have been a wonderful adventure and it’s definitely something I would love to go back and do one day, as well as explore more of this beautiful region.
Reason to return: Munich
Munich was the last city before Paris and home on our epic adventure last year, so we were pretty broke and therefore couldn’t really afford to pay the twenty euros or so that the ‘Hitler and the Third Reich’ tour cost. I am fascinated by the Second World War and how Hitler was able to come to power and cause such devastation, so I would have found this tour extremely interesting.
Luckily, my wonderful friend C is a Munich native, and I feel certain she’d put me up for a long weekend in the future and I can do the tour then. Oh, and as well as seeing C and doing the tour, Munich is also home to one of the best sandwiches I’ve ever eaten… That is definitely a great reason to go back, as if I needed a further excuse…
Reason to return: Krakow
Continuing along my historical theme, I went to Krakow during that same trip and did not visit Auschwitz.
I don’t think Auschwitz is a place that anybody necessarily wants to visit, but it is a place I feel I should visit one day, to remember the terrible things that have happened in our (very) recent history and to remind myself that such horrifying atrocities are still happening in this day and age. I have no doubt that visiting Auschwitz will be a deeply sobering experience.
Visiting Auschwitz is not something I would flippantly say ‘oh, it’s something to come back for’. But it is the main reason I want to go back to Krakow in the future and I feel a strong pull to undertake this visit. It is a trip I will take by myself one day, probably in the next couple of years.
Reason to return: Beara Peninsula, Co.Cork
When I wrote this post, I was actually sitting in my AirBnB on the Beara Peninsula, but I already knew then that I had reasons to want to go back in the future, not least the links I have to my family here and the ancestral Hodges home. However, as I mentioned at the beginning of this post, the weather on that trip was not wonderful.
As such, I definitely need to come back and visit Dursey Island again, when the fog has lifted and I can get in some good views! I’ll even brave the cable car again… There are also lots of walks I’d like to do, and I’d love to come back with my immediate family again in the future and spend time with them here. We have all been here before together, but we had limited time available and it’d be great to spend a week or so exploring.
Reason to return: Snowdonia
I went to north Wales a few years ago and climbed Snowdon with H, so my reason to return to this beautiful region of Wales is actually to satisfy my inner train geek once more and ride the Ffestiniog & Welsh Highland Railway, which departs from Portmadog on a daily basis.
Wales is my home country and there is still so much I need to explore there! I will always go back, but I tend to visit mid Wales – where my parents live – or head further south west into Pembrokeshire. I definitely need to spend some more time in the north, and this gives me an excellent reason to return and have more adventures in Snowdonia.
Reason to return: Morocco
Having been twice already, I feel like I’ve had a great taste of everything that Morocco has to offer. I’d love to go back and travel between cities using the rail network, rather than buses, taxis or tours, all of which I’ve used before whilst in the country.
Morocco has one of the best train networks in Africa, so to experience Morocco through a train window would be fantastic and a great way of seeing more of the country, which is one of my favourites (despite the bad food). I’d preferably like to do the Tangier to Marrakesh line, passing through Rabat and Casablanca, and hop out along the way to explore more of this country. You never know, I might even find some good food along the way!