Everyone who loves to travel knows that a trip is about so much more than just arriving at the destination. There’s something about merely being on the road that makes me excited and peaceful at the same time. Whether it’s the rhythmic clacking of train tracks ticking away the miles, the familiar routine of a long road trip, the swaying of the deck of a ferry beneath your feet or even the feeling of sitting up and stretching away the miles as your bus pulls into it’s final destination, there’s just something about the ebb and flow of being on the move that is wonderful all by itself. However, that’s not to say that all time on the road is created equal. There are times when the act of moving from point A to point B is pure travel joy, and other times when it, well, you just get through by reminding yourself over and over again about what a great travel story it will make some day.
When I think about the trips I’ve taken, some journeys stand out more than others on both ends of the spectrum. In my next post I will go back to some of the one’s I’ll be careful to never repeat again, but for today, I’ve chosen to focus on the positive. So here is, in no particular order, my five favourite experiences with transportation in my life so far.
1) Amalfi Coast Road:
This was one of the most exhilarating and scenic stretches of road I’ve ever seen. Note that I said seen, not driven. Never in a million years would I ever try to drive this route. The winding, two lane, shoulder-free route runs along the southern side of the peninsula just south of Naples and I’m pretty sure that every driver on the road was certifiably insane. The lorry drivers were deaf and blind as well and every single moped driver must have signed some sort of suicide pact. I watched the action from high up in the seat of a large long distance bus and as beautiful as the scenery was, it was hard to tear my eyes from the craziness playing out along the road. Multiple times we’d come to a corner where two large vehicles meeting from each direction simply couldn’t pass; the drivers would get out and yell for a while and eventually sone of them would get back in and slowly back up until he came to one of the rare straight sections. Of course all the vehicles packed in behind him would have to creep back as well. Except the moped drivers, who’d use the chance to sneak past the larger vehicles in the three foot gap between the vehicle and the rock face while the The drivers backed along the winding road as fast as they could. And just when you thought it couldn’t get any crazier, someone would simply stop their car right in the road and go into one of the shops lining the road to do some shopping and a giant game of chicken would ensue as everyone jockeyed to get past in the 1 1/2 lanes that were left. It was Southern Italy at it finest.
2) Bernese Oberland:
Not only does this area look and sound like you’ve wandered onto the set of “Heidi”, but you’re completely spoiled by the many incredible options for getting around. To get to the town of Grimmelwald where I stayed, I had to take a regular train, then a steep cogwheel train, then a narrow gauge train, then an actual goat trail. The other option is the train, then a bus, then a cable up from the valley floor. You can also take the cable car past Gimmelwald all the way to to top of the Schilthorn where it’s a five minute walk to the 2790 metre peak. The views from everywhere are amazing and I know that the whole Swiss efficiency thing is a bit of cliche, but you have to see how clean and fast and well run the whole system is to believe it.
3) Nile River Cruise:
One of my favourite parts of my two weeks in Egypt was the three day trip in a felucca sailing down (or up if you’re looking at it on a map) the Nile river between Luxor and Edfu. There wasn’t a whole lot to do as you drifted past the quiet villages, but that was part of what made it so peaceful.
4) South Island, New Zealand:
I did this trip by road, sharing the driving with a friend, and once again, the scenery is the real star. The route from Miford Sound to Queenstown was especially beautiful. My only regret is that it was before the Lord of the Rings movies came out because I’m sure I would recognize some of those vistas of Middle Earth if I were to get the chance to do it again.
5) Ferry from Split to Dubrovnik:
I chose this route mainly to get from point A to point B and I was blown away by the beauty of the Croatian coastline. There are hundreds of gorgeous little islands with whitewashed villages dotted along the coast. I kept hoping the ship would make an unscheduled stop so I could jump off and do some exploring. But I guess that’s what wish lists are for.
Stay tuned for my
five worst travel experiences five best travel horror stories.