Wherever you go, go with all your heart – Confucious.
Travel knows no bounds, nor does it rely on the weather to make it a beautiful experience. Granted, it would be lovely for it to always be dry with that hint of sunshine, a warm glow upon your face and a cool breeze caressing your skin. However, travel isn’t always as poetic as that, and sometimes it makes for a better adventure if everything isn’t so perfect all the time. One of my favourite times to travel is January. It has that slowness, that peace after the Christmas rush and it kicks off the year to an amazing start. And, even though there are grey skies sometimes and I need to pack some warmer clothes, it always makes for an incredible time. Of course, I love the sun as much as the next person, but flights don’t always equate to summer, and the world is a constant source of happiness, inspiration and culture no matter the weather.
I am certain that there are plenty more stunning places to visit in the world, but the following are places that I have seen with my own eyes, walked through with my own feet and breathed the air in through my own mouth. And I love a little travel throwback… I want to relive my travels as much as I want to share them with you.
Prague under grey skies is beautiful, dark and haunting. It is a place with hidden streets that whisk you away to a forgotten bar or café, away from the hustle and bustle of the main square. Crossing the bridge to the far-off castle that transcends under dark clouds is beyond magical. If you ignore the clothes that people wear, you can almost imagine what the city would feel like back when the castle was a stronghold, like many of the castles that stood when battles were a constant threat. Not only is the ambience heightened, back in the Old Town Square, you can truly benefit from the lanterns and fires that are outside the restaurants. Under a cover, you can bask in the warmth, wrap yourself in a complementary blanket and watch the rain sprinkle across the cobbles as you drink your glass of wine. Prague is magical in winter and I would go back in a heartbeat.
The thing about Portugal is that it is warm all year round. That is what makes it a fantastic location, no matter the weather… there is little chance of it raining at all. This was another haunt of mine in January earlier this year. The sun shone and it was that neutral line of warmth, but cool enough to wear a light coat… the perfect kind of January weather if you ask me. I felt as though I had boarded the plane and arrived in spring. The restaurant outdoors were bustling with servers in light t-shirts and customers in sunglasses. The street artists were playing music under blue skies. The markets indoor and out were in full flow, and I got a hot and bothered walking through the steep cobbled streets. It was the perfect weather and, as it was January, a lot cheaper than the hotter months!
A little bit further to go for that all-year sunshine. Don’t be fooled though; despite Australia being known for its heat and its beautiful weather, Melbourne gets very cool, very quickly. The rain can slash down (like anywhere) which makes the waves rip and roar. The wind can blow a gale and it can make you want to stay indoors. The reason I love Melbourne so much is that it reminded me of Liverpool, another city to visit whatever the weather. You can find yourself inside a quirky café as the rain hits the windows, hot chocolate in hand. In the same day, you can be sitting in a beer garden outside, sipping a cocktail as a musician plays. It is a spectacular city, one that can be enjoyed at whatever season and its beauty will transcend any weather the skies throw at it.
I have seen Amsterdam in glorious sunshine and walked its streets at night as the rain pelted against my bare legs. In the same day. Amsterdam is a gorgeous city that I fell in love with the first moment I stepped off the train and into the city. Its busyness had me in awe, but it wasn’t just the bustle of the people walking, wandering, biking, it was the electricity in the air that this city had, like every tiny detail was dancing. That was in the bright sunshine during mid-afternoon. As it poured, the streets emptied into the sanctuary of the bars and restaurants where the eclectic ambience sharpened and everyone carried on partying, laughing, joking without a care in the world. As for the streets themselves, it became a walking ghost town with a magic that is reserved for quiet cities at night.
It wouldn’t be a travel piece about the weather if fair England, in all her raining glory, wasn’t a part of it. As much as we Brits complain about the weather whatever the weather, we still wander into the cities to either bask, get soaked, or possibly snowed on. One of the most beautiful cities I’ve ever seen is Oxford and I’ve visited whilst the rain poured in autumn and later, during the hottest weekend of the year. Oxford is a piece of art that has survived over one thousand years. It will survive any kind of weather the sky descends on it. Beneath grey skies, the architecture looks haunting, another place that keeps its secrets locked in the darkest corners of its history. However, underneath the blinding sun, the architecture rises, forcing you to look towards the sky, its beauty and beyond.
Ah, fair Verona. A stunning place of history, romance and the spectacular. Verona under the Italian sun is beautiful, with the long, winding cobbled streets a maze of wonder. People, Italians in their gorgeous clothing and tourists in their summer best, mix under the heat in chairs that have sombreros above them, at tables cloaked with glasses of water, wine, beer and bowls of snacks, pasta and pizza. You find yourself in awe, wanting to get lost in the squares and the back streets, waiting to discover something new. As for when it rains, and the thunder strikes, it becomes a city filled with slippery cobbles and desolate shop windows. It is inside the restaurants and the bars that the place comes alive, with warm candles, low lighting and aromas that fill your nose and make your mouth water. A place you want to be if you hear a thunderous rumble in the distance.
To conclude, if you are in need of a break but you don’t want to risk it in case the weather ruins your trip, ignore the weather and have the best time regardless. You will look back on the memories and laugh as you remember having to run through the streets in just shorts and a t-shirt or take cover before the next bout of lightning flashes the sky. Travel is wonderful whatever the weather and it must be enjoyed to the full.
Do you have any memories of weather-related incidents on your travels? Do you wish it could be different?
Love, Faye xo