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Image: unsplash.

The Boar-ket list: Where we want to go next

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During the current pandemic, travel bans have been enforced worldwide to slow the spread of the virus. Most students aren’t leaving their houses, let alone the country. The Boar Travel asked writers where they’d most like to visit when the lockdown is lifted.

Athens, Greece – by Noah Keate.

My preferred style of holiday is a guided tour. I would rather have a trusted, experienced holiday company sort out my travel, accommodation and itinerary. And where better to do that than Athens? I’ve never had the privilege of visiting Greece and I imagine it would be an idyllic location to explore after lockdown. Despite their beauty, I have less interest in exploring the Greek islands. The culture their capital city provides is far more enticing.

After learning about the Ancient Greeks in primary school, I would love the opportunity to explore the heart of their history. Athens should be on the bucket list of any politics student as the birthplace of democracy (albeit a very exclusive kind of democracy). The beauty of the Parthenon, the wonder of Greek vases, the majestic touch of history is somewhere. Of course, Athens will have modernised like every capital city, both to reflect the modern economy and tourism demands. The authentic hand of history, however, is something that will never vanish.

The best locations are the least known. I imagine somewhere like the Great Wall of China is impressive, but loses its sense of wonder with so many tourists. Somewhere like Athens, with a history spanning centuries, will no doubt contain areas that remain undiscovered. It is those side streets, the areas of natural wonder undisturbed by humanity that attract me to the city. Structures by humanity are always an impressive feat for demonstrating human ingenuity. Places that remain departed from humanity and feel discovered for the first time, are what a holiday is truly about.

I don’t know how long it will take me, but Athens is at the heart of any future trips overseas.

This particular area is not only filled with charming bistros and lively crowds and is also riddled with history and political fervour

Paris, France – by Phoebe Greenwood

Though I have not visited many places while abroad, Paris remains the one holiday destination I find myself longing to return to. While tourists are often warned to be cautious of ‘Paris Syndrome’ – in which they are likely to find that their picturesque high expectations of the city are unrealistic – I have never found this to be a problem. If anything, the beauty of Paris seems even more elevated and intricate the more time you spend there.

The last time I went to Paris, my mother and I spent a good half of our day getting lost trying to find the renowned Latin quarter. This particular area is not only filled with charming bistros and lively crowds and is also riddled with history and political fervour. The Latin quarter acted as home to France’s infamous student riots of May, 1968. The riots saw French students, teachers, medical workers, and many public intellectuals, (such as Jean Paul Sartre) protesting against capitalism and imperialism, marking the beginning of France’s indignant and proactive character.

If you visit the Latin quarter yourself, it is not very difficult to imagine the noise and passion that must have been prevalent during the riots, for both of these things continue to live on in the street performers who you will encounter every two minutes and the constant sound of accordions that appear to follow you. This lively scene would certainly make a welcome contrast to the restrained and isolated feelings that come with life in lockdown.

Oman – by Maria Świątek.

I am a little embarrassed to admit that I don’t actually remember the name of my favourite place. I know that it was in Oman, and that’s about it. Well, I also know it was somewhere on the coast, where the water was warm and beautifully blue. It was where white boats would take you out to a place in the sea where you would see the most amazing sea turtles, and a ray, and colourful fish, and… and just everything really. It was somewhere where after a long plunge in the water you would go back to the cost to find probably the best restaurant in Oman.

And yes, I still don’t remember the name of that place. What matters is that I remember the feeling of being there. Not just remember the feeling, but actually feel it. I can still feel closing my eyes and letting the sun gently warm up my wet skin. I can still feel the characteristic toughness of my hair tangled by the wind, and fruitlessly trying to smooth it out with my fingers. I can still taste the soft and fluffy manakish bread combined with just the perfect amount of labneh (a creamy, tangy Middle Eastern yogurt) that I ordered.

If you know where exactly this piece of heaven on Earth is, do tell me. This is exactly where I would go as soon as the lockdown ends.

Our base for hikes was Mazeri, a remote village at the heart of Svaneti, surrounded by glacier mountain peaks

Svaneti Region, Georgia – by Zofia Świątek.

Since the lockdown started in my native Poland, we’ve been heavily discouraged from going outside. Over a few weeks even parks and forests were closed, and unable to go even on a daily walk, I truly missed being out in nature. That’s a stark opposite to my travels in the Svaneti region of Georgia, when my entire days consisted of hiking in the Caucasus Mountains, off the beaten track.

Our base for hikes was Mazeri, a remote village at the heart of Svaneti, surrounded by glacier mountain peaks, green valleys, and waterfalls. It consists of a few homes, guesthouses, ruins of ancient watchtowers (remnants of defence fortifications), and has only one real street, which cows walk in the evening — herded to their farms after a day spent grazing on the lush green meadows.

In Mazeri, you can see young children ride bareback on horses, chasing each other in the open fields. Three elderly women, wearing all black, talking to each other at the intersection of paths. Local teenagers, sitting on the mask of a car with a cracked windscreen, swaying to the music playing from an old radio. A group of men, their bare torsos glistening in the hot summer sun, manually reaping wheat crops and arranging them into stacks of hay.

Leave the village to follow a trail and you find yourself alone in a Lord of the Rings like setting. Admire the grandeur of the the Caucasus, its vast meadows with wild yellow flowers, singing birds, lush forests, snow-capped mountain tops, and the perfectly blue sky. Hiking there is even better than in the Alps; the region is safe but feels unexplored, authentic. With a guide, you can spend a day going to the nearby mountain pass on horseback, holding on tightly to the saddle as the horse goes up the steep slopes following a narrow trail.

The sights of nature so pristine, wild, and majestic, are unforgettable.

Florence, Italy – by Lucy Martin.

As someone who adores travelling and is filled with a constant feeling of wanderlust for all the beautiful places around the world I haven’t yet been to, being told that travel for the foreseeable future is very uncertain is terrifying.

While under lockdown, the time I haven’t been spending scrolling through travel Instagram pages and admiring my past travel pics has been spent writing a big essay for my second-year research project. The whole essay is based about Renaissance Florence which has meant that most of my time has been spent reading about Renaissance Italy, the beautiful Tuscan countryside and Florentine culture. Having visited Florence as part of a trip to Tuscany in 2018, I fell in love with it immediately.

The first thing I saw was the stunning Piazza del Duomo with its beautiful buildings and Cathedral. The Cathedral of Santa Maria del Fiore is probably the most stunning building I have ever seen and I love it so much that it was my laptop background for months. The architecture in Florence is so beautiful and seeing the view of the city on top of the Piazzale Michelangelo is worth the trip up.

Having to read so much about Florence while stuck at home and looking back at old photos has made me want to go back there as soon as we can travel again. It’s my favourite city in the world and it’s all I can think about while I’ve been sat outside in my garden basking up the English sun.

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