Johannesburg - I don’t believe in having a bucket list - mainly because it implies that you are going to kick the bucket - and the part of my 19-year-old mindset, that I am immortal, still persists.
Also, I think that places you lust over have a habit of losing their allure. So: I am over Paris. I loved it when I had just got married when croque messieurs and Impressionist paintings and love kept out the winter chill. But these days, it just seems grimy, grey and grubby. Ditto with London.
So, were I to have a bucket list, what places would I like to visit, given that I am a professional traveller and writer?
In this country, there are some spots I have never got to: the West Coast; the heart of the Karoo; the Richtersveld and the Trans-Kalahari Frontier Park; the R62 through the Cape’s fortified wine route; the Eastern Cape coast and hinterland.
Regionally, I would like to see Luderitz and Kaokoveld in Namibia (the places we didn’t get to in Namibia) but, earlier this year, I more or less got my fix on Zimbabwe, visiting Wilderness Safaris’ camps in Hwange and Ruckomechi. I would love to go to the Kafue part of Zambia, though.
As for the rest of Africa - nah. I did a lot of it as a working foreign correspondent in the ‘80s and, to be honest, there are many places I am glad to see the back of. I’ve done Malawi and Tanzania, but Kenya doesn’t interest me and Mozambique, frankly, scares me with the stories of intimidation and extortion practised on foreign visitors. An exception would be Madagascar, a strange combination of cultures and environments.
Further afield, Argentina - for its throbbing Latino culture and vast and beautiful landscapes - is a definite, as would be Peru and Costa Rica (one of the happiest countries on Earth). I could do without the Caribbean and Mexico and probably most of the US, although driving up the Pacific Coast Highway in an open-top car would be a priority. States I would like to visit include Oregon, Colorado, Washington State and Texas. I’d also like to wander around the mid-West and a friend has told me the Carolinas are spectacular. Canada? Not really. Alaska? Not really. I’ve done the UK and Ireland but the wilds of Scotland, and the Highlands in particular, are begging to be explored in depth.
Europe? Done most of it - although Croatia’s beauty has to be experienced first-hand, along with Albania. I would like to see Rome, too, at least once. Germany, Austria and Switzerland have always provided wonderful experiences but, push me, and I will say I will go back to Dresden in eastern Germany. It’s beautiful in spring and early summer. And, if I ever have the opportunity, in a suitably fast car, I would like to drive the Nordschleife (north ring) of the Nürburgring motoring racing circuit - petrolhead heaven.
Eastern Europe - the Balkan states in particular, as well as Poland - has had the sort of tortured history I find fascinating. I’ve been to Denmark and Norway, so I consider that northern part “done” but the fierce beauty of Iceland is always tempting.
I would like to stand on Red Square and I would like to see the Kremlin, so Moscow is a must. I would also like to spend more time exploring Portugal and Spain.
Many people tell me a traveller’s life is woefully incomplete without Greece or Turkey - but they, somehow, don’t excite me. I also know the Middle East is home to so much history, culture and religion, but - no. I would worry about safety in places like Israel and Jordan and worry about good taste in places like Abu Dhabi and Dubai.
Moving towards Asia, I do agree with the other contention that you cannot claim to have experienced the world until you have been tossed into the multi-cultural, multi-colour, teeming, washing machine experience of a country called India.
I have visited Myanmar, which has beauty, culture and wonderful food in abundance. Vietnam and its neighbours, because of their history, also pique my interest, as does Korea, because my father was there with the SA Air Force in the Korean War of the 1950s.
The same goes for Japan, a country my father admired, along with the Koreans, for its energy. China, the world superpower, should also be on my list, although I would like to know first that there is an excellent guide and a good itinerary.
Oz? No. Big but boring. New Zealand? Yes. Small but fascinating. And that’s about it on my world tour of places I’d like to go. Oh - and Hawaii. One of the most beautiful islands on Earth, it is said. Whether I will get to see all, or indeed any, of these still-to-be-visited places - only time will tell.
But travel, and the ability to enjoy it, doesn’t really relate to the exotic or remote nature of a place. A journey offers as much, or more, than the destination for a true traveller. So, by the time you read this, I will be sitting in Pietermaritzburg, having driven down, going nowhere slowly style, for a wedding.
And, as I write this, I am reminded that life is fleeting, that nothing lasts for ever (even travel columns) and that the road beckons.
l Please tell me what is on your travel bucket list - and why - or what I have missed from mine. [email protected]