Travel Touchstones 2015

I’ve made a resolution not to go anywhere else abroad this year. Part of me would like to, but a bigger part recognises that (a) I have a shitload of horrible admin to sort out, and all of it requires me to be in the country, and (b) I’m very tired and should probably take it easy for the next few months.

So I thought I’d do a kind of early travel round-up, inspired by Nomadic Matt’s recent post in which he mentioned ‘Travel Touchstones’.

What’s a travel touchstone?

It’s that standout moment of a trip which solidifies the memory of the whole thing in your mind. You know the one: when you’re looking back, trying to remember what happened when you were in a particular place, and you remember that one standout thing. The thing that really made the trip for you. And from that, everything else unravels in your mind and you remember the whole journey and how it made you feel.

Scar’s Travel Touchstones 2015

I’m going to include a couple of UK-based trips in here too, I think, because some of them were pretty standy-outy too.

Dublin – March

I went to Dublin for a forensics conference and I had an utterly brilliant time.

On the Saturday morning I had some free time, so I decided to go and see the Book of Kells. I wandered through the huge, beautiful structure of the Old Library.


It was a bookworm’s dream. I wanted to crawl behind one of the shelves and stay there forever.


And then I walked through the back and into an exhibition space, where they told the story of the Book of Kells – a story I’ve loved ever since I watched The Secret of Kells.

Entering a darkened room at the top of some stairs, I had the feeling of ascending into another world.

And there, under protective glass and with only the finest of illumination to allow visitors to see it without damaging the delicate pages, sat the Book of Kells.

South Carolina – May / June

Without a doubt my favourite trip of this year (and of my life so far, actually), South Carolina had a whole load of wonderful moments. But there are two that properly stand out:

1) Sailing down the Waccamaw River, the wind beating the sunburn onto my body, looking at the beauty of nature and hearing about the history of the area.


2) A day when I sat at the end of Springmaid Pier and watched the water for hours. The sun was high in the sky when I sat down (and significantly lower when I left), and I watched jellyfish, shoals of fish and a whale far out to sea.

Barcelona – July

The stand-out thing here happened just after I’d landed. The bus had whipped past the mountains on the way from the airport and I’d watched the sunset through the window. I arrived at my friend’s house, dropped off my stuff and out we went… to a fire run.

People let of fireworks in the street. People let off fireworks that are attached to them in the street.


After the fire run we sat in a plaza for a while and it solidified my initial impression of Barcelona as a fun, slightly insane, up-for-anything city.

Glastonbury – August

It’s a place I’d been many times before, and just when I thought it couldn’t get any more special to me… it did.


I had a brilliant night in with my friend, drinking wine and artisan Vermouth and setting the world to rights. The next morning, horrifically hungover, I went for a nine and a half mile walk and somehow didn’t collapse.

It was perfect.

Malaga – September / October

Another exotic location, another forensics conference. We’d gone out for the official gala dinner and the bar had been stocked with free eighteen-year-old Glenfiddich. A few of us had risen to the challenge (and had also defeated several glasses of wine earlier in the evening), and we weren’t up for the party ending just because the meal was over.


We set off to explore the streets of the city, ending up wandering around until gone 2am. It was one of those excellent nights when everyone is in high spirits and no one cares that you’re getting totally lost.

Barcelona – October

Barcelona gets a second mention because I had a great time both times I was there.

The second stand-out time was sitting in a wine bar with my friend, wondering if I could afford a glass of wine and then double-taking at the menu, which appeared to be saying that wine cost TWO EUROS.

I’m from London. I don’t get two-Euro wine.

It was a lovely evening in a cozy, atmospheric little bar, with excellent company and cheap alcohol.

What more could a woman want?

Birmingham – October

Birmingham deserves a mention because it was just so weird. It might have been my jetlagged exhausted brain (I went the day after I’d got back from Barcelona) but everything looked like aliens.


And that’s quite enough travelling for this year, thank you.

Aside from a brief trip to Scotland to visit the grandparents before the winter sets in, I’m going to stay in the UK until the end of December.

There. I said it on my blog. So it must be true.


What are your travel touchstones?

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