Places to Love in 2021 – Uncommon Destinations – I

Year 2020 was a year to forget for everyone and particularly for passionate travelers. Series of lock-downs, border closures, cancelled flights were a daily routine. First vaccines appeared towards the end of that year.

In 2021 we are observing start of a massive vaccination while some countries are reporting record numbers of people being affected and sadly those who lost the battle against the virus.

Expecting big recovery of travel industry in 2021 seems to be a bit over-optimistic. Things are starting to move in the right direction but it will take some time to recover. Some countries as Australia are not expected to open for travel till late 2021.

Some fortunate people managed to travel during this pandemic and I salute them! This pause from traveling can be used to learn about possible destinations and to make some good planning for better days when travel will become part of our lives again.

This article from The New York Times is presenting some very interesting and unusual travel suggestions. I would like to share some of them with readers of this blog.

Let’s get into it.

South Wales, Wales

“You’re in a place set apart.”

Over the last 20 years I’ve traveled to South Wales about seven or eight times with my wife, and later our children, to visit family in a town near Swansea called Mumbles. (The name is a corruption of the French word for “breasts.”) It sits at the edge of the Gower Peninsula — a beautiful wild place that offers expansive beaches, medieval castles, hilltop trails, horses that graze near Stone Age ruins and picture-book villages with friendly pubs serving Sunday roasts and local ales in dark-wood booths.

Mumbles is homey and welcoming, yet we never saw tourists there. The roads are so small and narrow that getting from one place to another feels like it’s much farther than you actually travel.

Punctuated by weddings, births, graduations, anniversaries and deaths, our trips represented different stages in our lives. But each trip also seemed less like a visit to relatives in the old country than an escape to a secret, beautiful place that only we knew.

OWEN MARTIKAN
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Owen Martikan is a lawyer who lives in San Anselmo, Calif., with his wife, Catherine, and their two teenage children.


Saipan, Northern Mariana Islands

“An island of hidden caves, covered in untamed jungle.”

The Saipan Hash House Harriers running club meets every Saturday and full moon, with a designated person — the “hare” — bushwhacking a trail for the rest of the runners.

Saipan is only five miles wide and 12 miles long, but runners showed me parts of the island I never would have found myself. We saw a beautiful B-29 engine from a plane crash in the mountains. Also a staircase cut into a cliff, from the last Japanese command post.

Runners took me boating, diving, hiking, camping, spelunking and golfing. Swimming in a lagoon that dropped toward the Mariana Trench, we marked how far we’d swum with the top halves of three submerged Sherman tanks — a door open, guns sticking out. I was never the hare, but I’m coming back to set a trail.—MEGHAN WEST

SAIPAN, NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Meghan West of Denver, a geophysicist working with the Army Corps of Engineers, traveled to Saipan looking for unexploded ordnance from World War II.


Kaliya Dhrow, India

“If you go, you will get lost and you
will recover something of your own.”

I’m always on the lookout for roads that don’t exist on maps. I talk to locals, get their directions. When the pandemic hit, I kept hearing whispers over cups of chai: Nomadic herders had found kotaro, a Kutchi word for rock formations sculpted by wind and water.

I pinned it down to several villages. Riding along a dirt road, we passed a hill split by nature. On both sides you have water, craggy peaks. This one huge mountain has six peaks, which I named Mahabharata, after the ancient poem in which five brothers share one wife. It was around noon, the sun was beating down and we had been riding for two hours when the road ended. We parked our bikes.

From the rim of a crater, I looked inside this marvelous, endless landscape of red: streaks of crimson, saffron — orange, also. I started climbing down, through the different shades of the setting sun, and I came to a waterfall with fish flying upstream.—VARUN SUCHDAY

KALIYA DHROW, INDIA

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Varun Suchday, of Bhuj, India, rode a motorcycle to tour the remote landscape near the village of Bhadli with his father and uncles in 2020.


This is just beginning of our virtual journey. I will be back with much more in coming days.

Special thanks to The New York Times for some unusual but great ideas.

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