Brown Ben’s Travels

It’s been just over 3 years since I first self-published my children’s book, The Adventures of Brown Ben – I can’t quite believe how time has flown!

Like me, Brown Ben loves to travel. It’s part of his special kind of magic. He travels the world to find children who need a friend, a companion, a confidante… Once he was even found on a plane, ready to be picked up and taken home to a little girl who needed a cuddle.

Unlike me, Brown Ben understands the language of every country he visits – and he’s visited every letter of the alphabet countless times. If only I had magical powers, it would make my quest much easier!

brown-ben-niagara

Here he is at Niagara Falls – somewhere I have recently finished writing up for my book!

Pins in the Map

Every travel quest needs a map behind it – I find looking at maps so inspiring. All the wonderful, unusual, exotic places just sitting there waiting to be discovered. You may not be surprised to know my house has many globes dotted around… Let’s see, I can spot at least 4 from where I’m sitting!

The map in this post is actually not in my house, though; it’s in the office at my mum’s house. Each different coloured pin represents a different member of the family, or combination of members – I’m the black pin (chosen mainly because it stood out in the pale expanse of Australia).

Whenever I visit mum, I go and gaze at the map. I plot which countries to visit based on which areas of the map have few pins (in the full picture below you can see a lot clustered around Europe and the Mediterranean, while the Far East and South America have almost nothing).

howells-map

Trying to choose countries that not only fit my remaining alphabet but also add a pin to an underrepresented area can be a challenge, but it’s a fun challenge. It’s always exciting to add a new pin to the map.

I also love the way the map looks now – it’s faded a lot since we first put it up, thanks to being opposite a window, and I love the aged, vintage vibe it gives off. It looks like it has been charting the travels of our family for decades, which, I suppose it has really.

Dream Travel Experiences

When my book is finished, if you read it (and I really, really hope you will!) you’ll find out why I so desperately want to travel to Antarctica. I don’t need it for the A-Z, I already have Austria and Australia for A, but I do have an excellent reason beyond that. I just need to finish the alphabet first!

And that does raise a good point. I have 8 letters left, and obviously I’m in the midst of writing the book, so my travel choices tend to be centred around getting to those letters. Which does cut out a whole lot of places I’d still love to see.

So, once the book is finished (or, at least, the necessary letters are collected), here are some of the experiences that will still be on my Bucket List:

Iceland

I’d love to see the Northern Lights, volcanoes, glaciers, waterfalls, and geysers. It’s such an ecologically interesting country (and seriously, volcanoes!)

waterfall-569342_1920

Galapagos Islands

I would love to visit the islands – I know it’s somewhere my dad was desperate to dive, and it just looks like an amazing experience in general. The variety of wildlife is amazing, and the scenery looks stunning.

marine-iguana-883489_1920

 

Vietnam

Vietnam may not be the first tourist destination that springs to people’s minds, but I’ve wanted to visit this beautiful country for a long time. The remote places, mountain passes and landscape are all wonderfully different, there are some amazing architectural sights, and by all accounts, it’s a welcoming and delightful place to stay.

rice-terraces-214725_1280

Cuba

From pictures, it always looks like stepping back in time – the gorgeous old cars giving this particular resonance! That’s clearly not the only reason to go; I’d hate to narrow a country down to one feature, but it’s always the first thing that springs to mind (well, and cigars of course)!

cuba-1233144_1280

Costa Rica

I’ve never properly experienced the Rainforest – I did get to spend an afternoon in one in Queensland, Australia, but it doesn’t really count to me. I would have to psyche myself up to deal with all the insects, arachnids, and other creepy crawlies, but would be rewarded by sloths and colourful birds and plenty of other beauty – a fair trade, I think!

volcano-1134389_1920

Your Turn…

Ok, so tell me, what and where do you have on your bucket list?!

Top 5 Ancient Monuments

As I work through writing my travel adventures (here’s some more information about my project, if you haven’t read that yet), I get to reminisce about the amazing things I’ve seen and done. So I thought I’d share some of those here too – to give you a flavour of what will be in the book.

Here are my Top 5 Ancient Monuments – hopefully I’ll get chance to visit some more before my travels are over, but these are my favourites so far!

The Pyramids and Sphinx

The first time I visited Egypt, we were actually in Cyprus (and I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the book for the full story behind that)! We travelled to Cairo to see the Pyramids and Sphinx. Aside from being most confused that they’re not in the middle of the desert, but actually right on the edge of the city, we were blown away to be standing at the base of one of the 7 wonders of the world.

egypt-1343909_1920

Ancient Rome

I was initially going to say The Colosseum, but ancient Rome is more than that. Sure, the Colosseum is the biggest, most prominent monument on the landscape, but I loved seeing the Circus Maximus and the Forum too. Especially when much of that sightseeing was done from the comfort of a Segway (more on that another time!)

rome-1246292_1280.jpg

Olympia

My most recent ancient visit, one of my favourite things about seeing the site of the first Olympics was knowing that I was walking on the same ground as Aristotle, Plato, and Socrates. That’s so cool! Standing on the starting line of the stadium, and sitting on one of the winners’ plinths was pretty awesome too, of course.

greece-1291728_1920

Petra

It may have been hotter than the surface of the sun that day (probably an exaggeration, but that’s how it felt), but walking through a canyon before being confronted by the Treasury at Petra was a spectacular experience.

desert-1189955_1920.jpg

Abu Simbel

Back to Egypt, the temples built for Ramses II and his main wife are truly monuments to behold. Carved into the mountain, engineered to the nth degree, filled with carving after carving… As a writer, I wish I could do a better job of explaining just how awe-inspiring these temples are.

egypt-1169556_1920.jpg

 

Like I said, I do hope to visit many more ancient ruins – after all, I do want to get to the rest of the 7 wonders, and Machu Pichu is on my Bucket List too…

7 Wonders

When dad and I were daydreaming about our grand travel plans, one of the things we had a lot of fun with was seeing how many extra achievements we could throw into the mix – like my plan to have visited every continent.

One of the extra ideas we had was to see if we could visit each of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World:

  • The Pyramids of Giza
  • The Temple of Artemis at Ephesus
  • The Colossus of Rhodes
  • The Lighthouse of Alexandria
  • The Mausoleum at Halicarnassus
  • The Statue of Zeus at Olympia
  • The Hanging Gardens of Babylon

We’d already visited the Pyramids at this stage, and dad had been to the Temple of Artemis. After he died, mum and I went to Rhodes, and saw the site of the Colossus (sadly no longer there – it would have been incredible).

Well, I’ve just come back from a week in Zakynthos (that’s Z sorted now), and took a day trip to Olympia where I saw the Temple of Zeus, or at least the remains of it – it’s another one where the statue is long gone, but still.

So I’m on 3 of 7, and I’ve just realised that 2 of the others are in Turkey and I don’t yet have a T… Well, isn’t that interesting?!