The travel game has changed with the rise of smart-phones, selfie sticks and all the filters your heart could ever desire. Whether amateur or professional though, there are some corners of the world that bring out the photographer in everyone. KATIE ELLEN WILKINS offers five suggestions below.
The Swiss Alps
While some places are visual feasts for their architecture or people watching, being in the Swiss Alps feels as if you’ve come into contact with your computer screensaver IRL. The impossibly stunning vistas that you thought only existed in the Internet world prove that nature really is the boss.
This is the place for a good old-fashioned outdoor binge, featuring all the usual (yet nonetheless spectacular) suspects: snow capped mountains, lakes you can see your face in, rolling hills (Sound of Music style), wild berries and wild flowers. Plus, the Swiss folk keep a fine home: manicured lawns, gingerbread houses and charmingly perfect neighbourhoods (and their equally charming residents) are scattered throughout the hills.
Maybe your picture of the mountains will look exactly the same as your friend’s picture of the mountain, but they’ll both be frame-worthy. Even a toddler on an iPhone couldn’t take a bad picture with views like these.
Sydney’s sea baths
Sunbakers on a canvas of crisp light blue and grey concrete, fruity swimsuit/swimming cap combos, textured waves, dark blue ocean, and shiny sunscreen-lathered skin. Visually, you get the best of both worlds: natural coastal beauty and elevated views of the classic poolside scene. Having grown up in Melbourne, where you could either go to the pool or the beach, Sydney’s sea baths sure feel pretty lux.
The salt-water baths offer a calm place for doing laps (or just floating) without the worry of waves or rips, but without having to go to your average public pool. Perch on the hill above the infamous Icebergs at Bondi, or laze on the rocks at Bronte while swimmers young and old do their daily exercise (regardless of the weather). If you want to do the rounds, check out Wylie’s Baths in Coogee too.
Texas is a weird and wonderful state. The so-called blueberry in the tomato soup, Austin, is a youthful, liberal city, known for being the home of international music festival, South by Southwest, and resident companies like Facebook and Google. Yes, Austin is progressive and creative, but it’s still no doubt Texas.
You’re likely to stumble upon breweries where a moustached man wearing suspenders will sell you a Blood Orange IPA or an Oatmeal Stout (among countless other options), but you’re just as likely to stroll around the corner to find a parade of Longhorn fans donning cowboy boots, huge belt buckles and giant orange hands.
Austin is a city of polar opposites, with possibly as many guns (and gun-related events) as there are taco joints and vegans. The city prides itself on being weird (their slogan is ‘Keep Austin Weird’), and weird she is! With brightly coloured architecture and signage, an average of 228 sunny days per year and some of the best people watching your heart could desire, you’ll come home from Austin with hours worth of slide shows for mum and dad.
There’s something enigmatic and mystical about the expansive red soil of Central Australia. I remember stepping out of my air-conditioned car into suffocating heat and the emptiness of endless road and 360-degree views of flat earth invoked a sense of isolation unlike any other.
There may not seem like there’s much to see around here, but that’s kind of the point. When we’re used to being surrounded by things constantly moving around us, the stillness can be a welcome change. And it definitely makes you view things (through your eyes and your camera lens) in a different way. Australia’s outback is full of unique natural beauty so clever it somehow survives in such a harsh and unforgiving environment.
Travelling along the Stuart Highway you’ll see termite mounds dressed in lingerie and various other costumes, and maybe even the odd roo. If you make it up north, there’s nothing quite like the red soil meeting the bluest of blue water.
Budapest’s Thermal Baths
The Széchenyi Medicinal Baths boast three sprawling outdoor pools and 15 indoor pools. Designed by architect Gyozo Czigler and built over four years between 1909 and 1913, the neo-Baroque baths are open all year long. In summer, you can join hundreds of swimmers and bake in the sun or play a giant game of chess as you bathe.
In winter, stroll through the snowy park and brave the chilly air before dunking in one of the steamy outdoor pools. It’s strange (but kind of awesome) to walk around in the snow in your bathers. While the palatial Széchenyi Baths are my favourite, it would be unfair not to mention the Gellért Baths.
If you want feel as though you’re a star in a Wes Anderson film, go swimming in the brilliantly tiled indoor baths on Gellért Hill. With amazing combinations of aqua, purple and mustard, the mosaics there are truly works of art.
(All images: author’s own. Follow Katie on Instagram here.)