Would have been flying out today to the Costa del Sol if it weren’t for the coronavirus lockdown. To be honest being stuck at home with the sun shining and temperatures in the mid-twenties doesn’t feel too much of a hardship.
No sign though of us getting our money back from the airline Jet2 or the hotel in Estepona but I know these are difficult times for business so will be patient.
Today is also the 10th anniversary of my mum’s death. She lived with COPD almost all her life and her last days were spent on a ventilator as thousands of people are doing across the world right now.
Rather than those awful last days in hospital I prefer to remember my mum through her great passion of travel. If we had got away to Spain I was planning to visit one of her favourite places in the world – the Alhambra in Granada.
This thought has inspired me to work on the European leg of my post-coronavirus travels. I’ve already been to quite a lot of places in the UK, France and Italy that would be in most people’s Europe list, here are the top 20 places that are left:
- Alhambra, Granada, Spain – my guidebook tells me it’s one of the most extraordinary structures on the planet and the most refined example of Islamic art. I’d have travelled there in a hire car and would have been looking out for the fortress towers which dominate the Granada skyline rising from cypress and elm woods, set against the backdrops of the Sierra Nevada’s snow- With Spain so badly affected by the virus I imagine today there will not a tourist in sight.
- Aya Sofya, Istanbul, Turkey – built almost 1,500 years ago a church, mosque and museum in one. Soaring columns, lofty galleries, glittering mosaics and the famous dome in a city I’ve yet to visit. While here I’d also take in the ostentatious Topkapi Palace.
- Hermitage, St Petersburg, Russia – I once wrote some chapters for a travel guidebook including one on St. Petersburg but shamefully never stepped inside one of the oldest and most comprehensives museums in the world. I’d like to put that right and revisit this extraordinary city.
- Bay of Kotor, Montenegro – I love the Croatian coastline particularly the stretch from Split to Dubrovnik but never got as far what is arguably the Mediterranean’s only fjord.
- Jokulsarlon, Iceland – a 17 kilometre lagoon of icebergs – a mesmerising place where the icebergs clink against each other as they drift out to sea. While here I’d also pay a visit to the Blue Lagoon, a land of steaming springs that ooze with mineral deposits.
- Cappadocia, Turkey – a geological oddity of honeycombed hills and towering boulders of otherworldly beauty. You can stay the night in one of the cave hotels.
- Red Square, Moscow, Russia – Russia’s historical, geographic and spiritual heart with the tall towers and imposing walls of the Kremlin citadel, the iconic onion domes of St. Basil’s Cathedral and Lenin’s granite mausoleum.
- Stari Most, Mostar, Bosnia-Herzegovina – a once magnificent 16th century Ottoman bridge spanning the turquoise currents of the Neretva River destroyed in the Balkan wars of the early nineties that has now been rebuilt in its original design.
- Bryggen, Bergen, Norway – fire-hued wooden wharf house alongside the Vagen harbourfront that provide a striking contrast to the cool blue fjord beyond.
- Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia – the third place in my Balkan bucket list, a ribbon of crystal water and gushing waterfalls in the forested heart of Croatia.
So many places to go, so little time!