By Julie-Ann Sherlock

I am lucky to have done a lot of travelling, particularly since 2017, when I left Ireland to begin a digital nomad life. I started in Asia, where I fell in love with Kuala Lumpur and made it my base for exploring the region. 

In 2019, I holidayed in Thailand, worked in India with Bempu (a fantastic startup whose mission is saving babies’ lives) for a few months, before going to Scotland for my sister’s wedding and spending a few weeks bumming around Portugal and the UK. My time spent back in Europe really got me thinking about how much of my native continent I still had to see. 

So now, I am impatiently waiting in my hometown for a chance to scratch the itch in my feet, hit the road again, and tick off some more destinations in Europe. Here are a few of the places I NEED to visit as soon as possible!

Athens, Greece

I love the beach, but I love cities too, particularly ones with lots of history. So Athens is the first stop on my fantasy trip around Europe. A visit to the Acropolis, ancient ruins and the museums dedicated to Greek civilisations of yore, will sate my inner culture vulture. I would intertwine museum-hopping days with relaxing on one of the beaches near the city like Alimos or Vouliagmeni’s Akti. It’s all about balance, you see! 

Zadar, Croatia 

With a bit of a beach bum and vintage vibe, my next stop would be Zadar in Croatia. Located on the Dalmatian Coast, this historic city offers a smorgasbord of ancient Roman history and modern, chic, European living. I would sneak in a day or two of total relaxation on one of the beaches in the area like Boric or take a boat trip to Nin Island to soak up some sunshine on Ninska Laguna. Those who enjoy diving or snorkelling will also find some great options in Zadar. I prefer just to dip my toes in the water to cool down between bouts of reading. 

Budapest, Hungary

Inspirer of catchy songs, madcap movies and arguments with a now-deceased friend (she wanted to go to Prague and I wanted to go to Budapest), this city is a must-visit for me. It comprises two parts—Buda and Pest—dissected by the River Danube and offers old-world charm, rich cultural experiences and a funicular railway that puts the fun in climbing to the castle! No stay in this vibrant city would be complete without a boat trip on the famous Danube. Personally, I would opt for the nighttime sail with champagne to toast my dear deceased friend, Theresa. 

Vienna, Austria

This city of sophistication and style seems to be the epitome of class and culture. From Baroque buildings to the opulent Opera house, this Central European capital’s architecture is just divine. I see myself strolling along cobbled streets, humming some Mozart while oohing and ahhing at the beauty of my surroundings, before stopping for some Apfelstrudel with an Almdudler wine spritzer in a quaint café. 

Sicily, Italy

Mama Mia! How have I lived most of my life in Europe and never visited Italy? Having been to pretty much all the countries in Western European, Italy has so far eluded me. But not for much longer—I hope. While I would love to explore Florence’s art galleries, lean against the Tower in Pisa, and float along Venice’s canals, Sicily is my first stop when I make it to this Mediterranean country. Small towns full of character, stunning beaches and the danger of Mount Etna possibly erupting, not to mention the Mafia history, make this an intriguing location for me to explore. It’s also my oldest son’s favourite place to visit, so maybe he will come too. 

Hyères, France

Where? It may not be one of the most famous cities in France, but for me, a piece of my heart lies in Hyères in the form of my youngest son. He moved there with his New Caledonian girlfriend in September, and I haven’t seen him since Christmas 2019. So a visit to this fairytale, French Riviera city is a personal must-do for me. While there, I will explore the historic town centre, take a trip to some of the islands nearby and sip some wine in a vineyard with my youngest in tow. 

Right now it is not even possible for me to travel 1.5 hours to Dublin to visit my eldest son, never mind a trip to France. While it breaks my heart that I can’t travel, it hurts even more that I can’t see my boys. Until that changes, I will have to content myself with daydreams about holidays and exploring Europe with my two sons by my side.