ON THE ROAD TO RECOVERY: Scouring the Spirit of Wanderlust

Countries around the world have imposed sweeping travel bans and advisories to stem the spread of the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) within their borders and beyond. As the COVID-19 spreads across the globe and travel disruptions, starting from visas cancellations to flight suspensions, increase by the day, many people are wondering what to do about their future holidays, if anything at all. Will the situation be worse in the coming days or better? Which countries will be safe to visit? And is flying a good idea? As fast as questions are being answered, new ones emerge. Nevertheless, amidst all the panic and perplexities, TravelScapes brings to a list of the top, hand-picked destinations to look forward to in the days to come, keeping the anxiety away while also brushing off the dust settling on the itchy feet

 

By Team TS

 

BRUSSELS

There is plenty about Brussels that makes it like no other city. Most travellers backpack to Brussels as they speed through to Paris or Amsterdam or other travellers just make it a stopover. Being the capital of the European Union for a start and operating in two native languages (French and Dutch/Flemish), this historic center is like a reverse doughnut, with the imposing Grand Place in the middle, surrounded by mundane, often tawdry streets that in any other European city would be prime real estate. Among these, all within walking distance, are sublime and surreal art collections. The architecture, all around Brussels, is striking, especially around the Grand Place where guildhalls and the opulent Town Hall frame a pedestrian concourse. And not to forget all the chocolate, waffles, fries and beer that one is bound to eat in Brussels! With its countless restaurants and bars devoted to beer, Brussels is a foodie’s dream.

 

FIJI

We know of its superb white sand beaches, reputation as the soft coral capital of the world, friendly locals and swaying palm trees but first-time visitors will find Fiji packs plenty of surprises – especially if one ventures beyond the resort confines. While exploring the archipelago’s exquisite beaches, undersea marvels, lush interiors and fascinating culture, one shouldn’t be rushed. Fiji is a collection of volcanic islands spanning 1,600 kilometres in the South Pacific Ocean. There are two main islands, Viti Levu and Vanua Levu and nearly 900 smaller islands and inlets to follow. While Fiji Water may be expensive, a vacation here doesn’t need to break the bank. Yes, there are pricey resorts but there are also budget guesthouses. Inexpensive accommodation and food, combined with the fact most Pacific flights include a stopover here, make the islands an affordable and easy place to visit. If you’re looking for paradise on a budget, Fiji is it!

SRI LANKA

Endless beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka simply irresistible. One might say Sri Lanka has been hiding in plain sight. Scores of travellers have passed overhead on their way to someplace else but years of uncertainty kept Sri Lanka off many itineraries. Now, however, all that has changed. The country is moving forward quickly as more and more people discover its myriad charms. Few places have as many UNESCO World Heritage Sites (eight) packed into such a small area. Sri Lanka’s 2000-plus years of culture can be discovered at ancient sites where legendary temples boast beautiful details even as they shelter in caves or perch on prominent peaks. Across the island, that thing that goes bump in the night might be an elephant heading to a favourite waterhole. Lying between the more trodden parts of India and Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka’s history, culture and natural beauty are undeniably alluring. It’s the place one hasn’t been to yet, that one should.

 

JORDAN

A small country that is big on hospitality, ancient history and culture and numerous UNESCO World Heritage sites, Jordan offers endless opportunities for adventure and recreation. From afar, it is often unfairly lumped in with regional conflict and, as such, overlooked by timid travellers. But in reality, it is a welcoming and peaceful destination not to be missed. Maybe it will be the moment one falls asleep under a blanket of stars or stand in awe of enormous ancient stones. Or perhaps it will hit when one reaches the peak of a mountain and take in the view, far away from the rush of the city. It might be the laughter and stories one shares with the new Bedouin friends or the taste of tea brewed with sage and sugar over a campfire, Jordan is full of unexplored surprises. There will be a moment – or more likely, many moments – when the magic of Jordan seeps into the soul. Jordan will welcome its visitors, challenge them and it may very well change them.

SCANDINAVIA

The word ‘Scandinavia’ evokes many images from endless fir forests, awe-inspiring fjords, wilderness, and lately, perhaps, crime fiction and noir thrillers such as Borgen, Wallander and The Killing. It is all these things, of course, but this hardly does justice to the region’s vastness and diversity. To the North is the Arctic Circle, where polar bears roam, the summer sun lasts 24 hours but an implacable dark descends in a winter lit, if one is lucky, by cosmic northern lights. Nomadic reindeer herders range from mountain to forest and the naked sauna is a national pastime. The western coasts are wild and wet. Plunging cataracts and cruise-ship-dwarfing fjord cliffs defy your sense of scale and the wind whips angry seas. Head south to Denmark’s countryside, though, and one would find a pastoral, almost English beauty of rolling fields and woods. It’s a gentler landscape ideal for touring by bike. Scandinavia is also a region of extreme seasons quite unlike Britain’s tepid climate. Winter in the region thwarts all but the most determined city-break tourist.

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