I guess we all have a list of Places To See Before We Die – stashed away somewhere in a drawer or, more probably, in a far corner of our memory. Most of us, however, will have compiled this list ourselves: the idea of letting someone else determine our favourite holiday destinations may seem a little bit too frivolous for most. But then again: who has never been tempted to supply his or her personal details (and personal preferences) to an Internet Dating Agency, just to see what “perfect soulmate” they would come up with – in the safe knowledge that they could not force us to follow up their suggestions all the way to the altar? So I filled in the form and told HomeAway my criteria for a “perfect holiday” – expecting to be just a little bit baffled by their answers. I was, as it turned out, not disappointed.
Meteora in 2018 when I will be 61
On the whole, compiling this list – selecting four destinations from HomeAway’s many offerings – has been a shameful experience: there are so many places where I have not been, that have been on my “to see” list for years, sometimes many years, but were brutally shoved down for – yes, for what? Two-week family holidays by the seaside. Shopping trips to second-rate European towns. Shame on me for my lack of spirit and adventure.
The Greek Orthodox monastery of Meteora, at least, is one place where I have been: as a kid, way back in the 1970s. Still, I remember some details surprisingly well: the dramatically sudden appearance of the boulders in the landscape, the flicker of the candlelight on blackened interior walls, the bearded monks, not all of them old, attempting to ignore the hustle and bustle around them – even in the 1970s, Meteora was already attracting tourists in their thousands. Since it is so long since I visited the place, long before many readers were born, I would not mind going back. Not least because I wonder how much of it has changed over the years.
Discover more about Meteora.
Marrakech in 2026 when I will be 69
Coloured cottons in the air / charming cobras in the square – Crosby Nash & Young pretty much nailed down what made Marrakesh famous in the 1960’s, not to forget the opportunity to, ahem, blow smoke rings from the corner of my mouth. When, soon after, the tourists started to appear by the plane load rather than on the Marrakech Express or in battered old Volkswagen vans, the city could easily have become a caricature of itself. Apparently, however, this is not what has happened – which is one reason why I would certainly look forward to going there. I have never been to North Africa, and this seems to be as good an introduction to the charms of the area as any.
Discover more about Marrakech.
Giant’s Causeway in 2030 when I will be 73
Ah, the UK, one of Europe’s greatly underrated tourist destinations. Most visitors get stuck in London, which is a pity, because there is so much else to see, and you do not even have to go as far as the Lake District or the Scottish Highlands to discover a country full of little wonders: Derbyshire, East Anglia and the south coast near Seven Sisters can all be comfortably reached from London within a couple of hours.
Admittedly, the Giant’s Causeway, Northern Ireland’s greatest tourist attraction, requires a little bit more time and determination – which is probably why I myself have only ever seen it on pictures. Access to the Causeway by public transport appears to be a bit tricky, but there seems to be a scenic walk from Portrush, the nearest station, which is roughly 10 km long. Hope I won’t be too old for that when I’m 73!
Discover more about Giant’s Causeway.
Lofoten Islands in 2033 when I will be 76
Confession time: when I found out that the Lofoten Islands was one of the places I was meant “to see before I die”, the only thing I knew about them was that they were a part of Norway – and even that turns out to be only roughly true since they are a hundred miles away from the Norwegian mainland, located at the southern rim of the Arctic Sea. At 76, I had been hoping for some gentler climes to rest my weary bones – what, if I may ask, dear HomeAway, is wrong with Capri, the Bahamas or Waikiki? But, as it turns out, the Lofoten climate is less terrifying than one might expect – due to the effects of the blessed Gulf stream, the temperatures rarely fall much below zero even in mid winter – and the landscape appears to be really spectacular. I just hope I won’t be too gaga at 76 to forget my umbrella – it appears to rain a lot in the Lofoten, even during the summer months.
Discover more about the Lofoten Islands.
Michael Schuermann is a former journalist of the BBC and Eurosport. He is also the author of guide book Paris Movie Walks as well as writer, editor and publisher of Easy Hiker – Discovering the Small Outdoors.