My travel wishlist, apart from being endless, is a dreamy concoction of the exotic and the time-tested, the off-the-beaten-path and the hidden gems. And as I just realized, it is also quite black!
Go swimming in the Black Sea: Think steep, rugged coastline. Think rolling green forests. Think dark blue sea. Think a cluster of quaint villages along the coast. Think rivers gurgling through gorges. And you would have in front of your eyes a picture postcard from Turkey’s favorite baby – the Black Sea Region. They have come up with a lot of possible explanations for its name – the low level of oxygen in the water that prevents the growth of organisms, thick fogs in the region that darken the water, ‘black’ signifies ‘north’ in Greek, the deadly storms that frequent the area – and so on. Whatever it owes its name to, this expanse of water and the surrounding regions flanked by Europe, Anatolia and Caucasus is any travel buff’s dream. It boasts of alpine meadows, stunning architecture, picturesque towns, sublime glacier lakes complementing its thick forestation and beautiful ocean. It is also home to the Sumela Monastery, one of a kind not just because of its wonderful architecture but its spectacular location – take a look at the picture below to know what I mean. While you are at it, also feast your eyes on Black Sea’s best beach, the Caka Beach, and then honestly tell me you don’t want to put on your shoes and run off to Turkey right now. Go on, I dare you.
Dig into a cherry gateaux at Black Forest, Germany: There are mountains. There are woodlands. And then, there is Black Forest. Nestled cozily in Baden-Württemberg, southwestern Germany, it’s a place right out of the fairy tales, where even sunlight plays hide and seek with the impenetrable canopy of trees (and hence the name!). When the bowl of beauty slipped from the hands of the Creator, it dropped here, and that is the explanation for this place being so ridiculously beautiful. I mean, I seriously can’t imagine how else one single piece of land can have granite summits, evergreen forests, woodlands stretching into the horizons, breathtaking valleys, and pristine rivers. As if that was not enough, they had to make the most adorable cuckoo clocks and yummiest Black Forest pastries in the world!
Dip my feet in Black River, New York: This little river is not exactly a tourist hotspot, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a precious, beautiful locale. Water streams flow from the Little Black Creek, North Lake, Adirondack Mountains and the Lyons Falls, and finally join hands to become this dark, slow river that empties out into Lake Ontario. The river probably got its name from an acid that darkens it water, but let’s not go into technicalities and spoil its charm. What matters is, it’s a quiet, romantic spot that’s perfect for spending a few hours in happy solitude. For the more active kind, it’s a great place for fishing and kayaking as well. Give me one reason why I shouldn’t be in a long-distance love affair with it.
A date with nature at Blacktown, Sydney: Only a few kilometers to the west of the bustling city of Sydney, lies this unassuming little town, which is perfect to spend a day in. It proudly boasts of the Featherdale National Park, one of the best national parks in Australia, where you get to meet snuggly wombats, kangaroos, koalas and a lot of other exotic animals, and click photos with them! Blacktown also has thrilling theme parks, bustling markets, bowling centers, game arcades, churches, hills and lots more. Its name can be traced back to an aboriginal settlement.
Spend a quintessential English afternoon at Black Country: Black Country throbs quietly as the heart of England, sitting pretty north and west of Birmingham. It is perfect for a lazy afternoon of enjoying the very essence of British recreation – well-stocked museums, beautifully restored period houses and gardens, craft galleries, zoos, golf courses, cafes. Just the thing you need for a break from the frenzied activities of life. It is a place where life slows down and actually holds the roses to your noses, and I, for one, can’t wait to sniff at them.
Sigh. Black is beautiful.