"Frustrated Wanderlust" illumina's Profile

Making up for lost time...

New!!! Lahore is in progress. Hampi is done!

I've longed to travel my whole life, but I didn't leave the country at all till I was 20, which was only to go to Ireland for a week with University; and I didn't leave the British Isles til I was 24 when I jumped in at the deep end a bit, with a busman's holiday to go digging in Albania.

I'm an archaeologist, which is a chronically underpaid career, so I have to live fairly frugally to be able to afford to travel at all - but it's worth it! Occasionally I do get to travel with work though; as well as Albania I've worked in Spain, France and Denmark - this does rather make up for things!

My preferred style of travel is backpacking. Particularly when I can take off for a few months at a time, I love to just move around an area, staying as long as I feel the need to in each place, without a sense of hurry. I love to be able to explore and get to know a place. That said, I do like to see the 'sights'... I just like to experience other things as well. Working in a country is a fantastic way to get to know it better, I'm hoping I can do that again (and again!).

I'm gradually working on creating and updating pages for all the places I've visited; it's going to take me quite a while, I've got so much I'd like to say! I also want to create pages for all the places I know and love in the UK. I think that travelling around and getting to know your own country is just as important as going abroad, and there is so much diversity within the British Isles. I'm currently still working on tips for 2009's trip to India etc, and I still have to finish off tips for Egypt and Spain (2008!). Works in progress, so keep checking back.

Past Trips

Ireland - Dublin, Limerick, Bunratty, Blarney, Cashel, Holycross, Newgrange, Tara, the Boyne Valley

Corfu - Kerkyra (Corfu Town)
Albania - Sarande, Ksamili, Butrint, Gjirokaster

Belgium - Dessel (Graspop Metal Meeting), passing through Northern France on the way

France - Paris, Saint Denis - the first birthday I spent abroad; the first of many I hope and plan.
UK - Glastonbury
Belgium - Dessel (Graspop Metal Meeting)
Germany - Wacken (Open Air festival) passing through northern France, Belgium and Holland
Finland - Helsinki
Denmark - Copenhagen
Sweden - Malmö, Lund

Italy - Rome and Vatican City Another birthday trip!
UK - Cornwall
UK - Stratford and Kenilworth

Turkey - Istanbul and the Bosphorus (birthday trip no. 3!)
Netherlands - Amsterdam
Czech Republic - Prague, Kutna Hora and Sedlec
Slovakia - Bratislava and Devin
Austria - Vienna

The last three were visited in a single trip: 'backpacking' around Central Europe for two weeks, travelling by train between cities. Follow our trip, starting with Prague.

Egypt - Cairo, Alexandria, Aswan, Abu Simbel, Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.
Trip for the big 3-0!
Spain I was very lucky and managed to get a job working in the Basque Country for two months. Spain´s a wonderful place! I was living in Vitoria, and took several trips from there. We came home via Andorra and France... follow the trip from Vitoria!

The year of the mammoth trek, which lasted 7 months and took in 14 countries, including India, Pakistan, China and Mongolia! We started on a cold and frosty morning back in January, leaving on the Eurostar for Brussels - click on the link to follow our trip (work in progress!).

This trip took in the furthest points South and East for me! I spent my birthday on the wonderful, beautiful, Andaman Islands - do have a look!

Jan- Mar 2010

Work in Brittany. Unfortunately I had to spend my birthday working this year, but at least I was in France!

May-Jul 2010

Road trip; France, Spain, Gibraltar, Morocco, Portugal, Andorra, Italy, Switzerland and Belgium! Follow the trip starting with Rouen.

Drove through France, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, moved to Denmark, stayed in Sweden for a month and visited Oslo briefly.

Still living in Denmark. For Easter 2012 we visited a friend in Stockholm, and took a short cruise of the Baltic, visiting Tallinn, St Petersburg and Helsinki.


A 3 month trip to Mexico, Cuba, Guatemala, El Savador, Honduras and Belize, where I seem to have gained a new hobby - I learned to Scuba dive!


We had a 3 week break in the Canary Islands in January, including a weeks diving (completed the Advanced Open Water course).

Just back from a weeks' break in Italy - Rome, Naples, Pompeii and Sorrento!


I have a huge wishlist of places to visit:

Croatia (Dubrovnik in particular)
Greece (Athens, Rhodes, Delphi...)
Libya (Leptis Magna, Qasr al Hajj)
Jordan (Petra)
South America (Machu Picchu, Chachapoyas etc)

oh, and lots of other places!

As an archaeologist with an enduring love of history, one of the main reasons I travel is to see 'old stuff'! I also have a somewhat morbid outlook, and love to wander around churches, cemeteries, crypts and catacombs. You can expect to see all of this illustrated in my tips, and as I also love to share knowledge, I try to write a bit about the background of the places I visit.

(This photo of me appeared in Current Archaeology!).

I also like to combine travel with another of my loves - music! I quite often visit places within the UK to see bands live (London and Nottingham most frequently) and have travelled to Belgium, Germany and Finland for gigs and festivals. This picture shows me with the singer of Sentenced at a signing at Wacken 2005.

Inspired by others, here are my Travel "Records":

Most countries visited in 1 year: 14
Most countries in 1 day: 6 (Poland, Germany, Netherlands, Belgium, France, UK - one looong bus ride!)
Countries I have lived in: 3 (UK, Spain, Denmark)
Countries I have driven in: 5 (UK, France and Spain [car]; Turkey and India [scooter])
Countries I have worked in: 5 (UK, Albania, France, Spain, Denmark)
Passports: 2
Number of countries visited: 36
Number of countries I have walked into: 2 (Nepal and Pakistan)
Borders I've driven across (at the wheel): 1 (France to Spain)
Passport stamps obtained on a boat: 2 (Albania and Morroco) (and a Russian one after getting a ferry into St Petersburg!).
Highest altitude I've slept at: 3,900m (13,000ft) at Kara-kul Lake, China.
Longest train journey - Ulaanbaatar to Moscow, 5 days, 6304km (2nd longest - Urumqi to Chengdu, 51 hours, 3026km). Strangely I still like trains!

Superlatives that I have visited:

Smallest country in the world - Vatican City
Largest country in the world - Russia
Most populous country in the world - China (1,300,000,000 people)
Most sparsely populated country in the world - Mongolia (1.78 people per sq km)
World's furthest city from sea - Urumqi, China
Highest border crossing in the world: Khunjerab Pass (4733m /15528ft)
Deepest metro station (Europe/World?): Kiev Arsenal'na (105m)
World's largest public square - Tian'anmen, China
World's longest fortification - Great Wall of China
Longest river in the world - Nile
Longest river in Asia - Yangtze
Oldest Pyramid - Step Pyramid, Saqqara, Egypt
Largest Pyramid - Great Pyramid of Khufu, Giza

I have seen the largest volume, and also deepest, freshwater lake in the world, Lake Baikal, but only from the train!

Europe's Oldest Cave Painting - at El Castillo Caves, Cantabria, Spain.

World Heritage Sites visited - 72/962

  • Intro Updated May 26, 2014
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