Places I’ve Sworn I’d “Leave Tomorrow”

by Brenna Holeman

Taganga Colombia 2

Taganga, Colombia

The way I’ve travelled has evolved over the years. In the beginning, when I first strapped my backpack to my back and took off around Europe, I moved quickly, barely getting to know one city before hopping on a train to the next. While sometimes that is the most efficient way to see a lot in a short period of time, I don’t like to travel that way anymore. I prefer, at the minimum, a few days in each place, and to visit at least a few places per country. Of course, it doesn’t always work out that way – I recently only had time for four days in Italy, for example – but, in an ideal world, I would be able to travel slowly.

Over the years of adapting a slower style of travelling, then, there have been a few places that have just completely captivated me, or, perhaps, captured me. These are the places that I keep telling myself I’ll leave, that there are other cities and towns and beaches, and yet, for whatever reason, I end up booking another night at the hostel, and another. In no particular order, here are a few.

1. Taganga, Colombia

Taganga Colombia

I could really mention all of Colombia. From Cartagena to Medellin to Salento to Popayan, I ended up staying longer in each place than I initially thought I would. Taganga was one of those places that I just couldn’t leave, no matter what deadlines I made for myself. To be completely honest, Taganga isn’t stunningly beautiful or even that charming compared to other places in Colombia, but what it lacks in sightseeing it makes up for in diving. I started by doing a few fun dives at Aquantis Dive Centre and then stayed on to do my Rescue Dive Course there, too – meaning I stayed for well over a week when I had planned for only a day or two. From there I also visited the gorgeous park and beaches of Tayrona, which I recommend for anyone going to Colombia. I still crave the fresh fish from that one little restaurant along Taganga’s main beach…

2. Pai, Thailand

Pai Thailand

I could wax romantic about Pai for a very long time, as I stayed there for, well, a very long time. I initially thought I would go for only a few days after the wild parties of Songkran in Chiang Mai, but I stayed for two weeks and then some. I got to know the restaurants so well that the servers knew exactly what I would order. All I did there was ride a motorbike through the hills, eat, write on my blog, eat, party in the Jamaican bar, and eat, but it was a glorious two weeks. Bonus points for having my own little cabin beside the river for only 100 baht per night (that’s less than £2, or just over $3).

3. Utila, Honduras

Utila Honduras

I had a pretty set plan when I first started off in Central America in 2012. Relax in Belize for a week or two, then head to Antigua, Guatemala to study Spanish for at least a month. Then, a short stint in the Bay Islands of Honduras before heading south to Nicaragua. Turns out, it rained the whole time I was in Antigua and I quickly craved the beach, so I left after three weeks. And that short stint in Honduras? It turned into two weeks and a few days, all of which were spent on the island of Utila (save a few days in Copan Ruinas and La Ceiba). I was instantly welcomed by Utila Dive Centre and did a total of 15 dives there, falling in love with both the stunning underwater life and the hilarious dive masters I got to know. Throw in some very cheap seafood, some great parties, and a travel romance, and I was pretty sad to finally leave the sweltering island.

4. Tel Aviv, Israel

Tel Aviv Israel

Israel isn’t often in the news for very good reasons, especially now. I’ve always said that I wouldn’t get too political on this blog, especially when there are so many sides to a story and especially when I don’t feel that I have the knowledge or the authority to speak about it. What I can say about my time in Tel Aviv last year is that I stayed far longer than I thought I would; I had initially intended to stay there for a few days, then head south to Eilat to dive, then head into Jordan. I even had a flight out of Amman. After spending a few days with my sister Zalie, who lives there, I knew I wasn’t going anywhere. There’s something to be said about putting two sisters together in a city with a beautiful beach and an abundance of amazing restaurants. Simply put, I was more than happy to stay in Tel Aviv with her, and cancelled that flight from Jordan.

5. Tokyo, Japan

Tokyo Japan

I lived in Osaka, Japan for over two years, and I’m ashamed to admit that I didn’t see as much of that fascinating country as I perhaps should have. And while I did try to spend weekends in other places – Hiroshima, Koyasan, Kyoto, Nara, Kobe – it was always Tokyo that drew me back. I must have visited Tokyo at least a dozen times in those two years; once I planned to go further afield when I had a week’s holiday, but I just stayed in downtown Tokyo the entire time. I loved its culture, its food, its flashing lights and its expanses of parks. I loved that I never knew what I would see when I turned the corner. I loved how, even in a huge, bustling city, one of the biggest in the world, I was always spoken to with respect, and always greeted with a smile. Tokyo is still one of my favourite cities in the world.

6. Copenhagen, Denmark

Copenhagen Denmark

When I visited Copenhagen in the summer of 2006 I had no intention of returning any time soon… until I met a man who changed all of that. Instead of continuing on through the Baltics after Scandinavia, I instead returned to Copenhagen to spend a few blissful summer weeks in Denmark’s capital. While I’m sure the romance had a lot to do with it, I grew to love Copenhagen for so many reasons: its history, its architecture, its food, its fashion, and its culture, of which I knew nothing about before spending so much time there. I even returned for another month in the autumn, when it was just as beautiful (and I did eventually get to the Baltics).

7. El Nido, The Philippines

El Nido Philippines

When I booked a holiday in the Philippines for three weeks back in 2010, I had a grand plan for exploring three or four islands. After a night in Manila and another five days in Boracay, I headed to the island of Palawan. And, wouldn’t you know it… I stayed for the remainder of my time in the Philippines. I went snorkelling every day, wrote pages and pages in my journal, read books for hours on end… and just relished in the slow pace of life there. Coming from my life in Japan, this was one of the best places to relax.

8. Havana, Cuba

Havana Cuba

I visited Cuba when I only had a week’s holiday from work, so I didn’t really have the option to travel much farther than Havana. Looking back, even if I had had longer, I still would have spent a full week in the country’s capital. Full of life and colour, I spent most of my days just walking around the city’s vibrant streets; the sightseeing and the abundance of activities to do in the city are phenomenal. I completely fell for its cars, cigars, and for all of its incredibly welcoming people.

9. Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires Argentina

Despite having three weeks in Argentina, I only visited three places: Mendoza for one week, Iguazu Falls for two days, and, well, Buenos Aires for two weeks. While I really enjoyed the sightseeing I did there, to be completely honest, I was exhausted after over eight months backpacking through South America and welcomed the ease of being in Buenos Aires. I really couldn’t ask for much more at that point: amazing food, my favourite wine (Argentinian Malbec), ridiculously good-looking people, huge tree-lined streets, and some of the best nightlife I’ve ever encountered. You couldn’t have paid me to leave at that point.

10. The Perhentians, Malaysia

My sister went to the Perhentians in 2001, and since then I had been dying to visit these little islands near Thailand. When I finally got there in 2011, I intended to stay for five days or so. I mean, what can you do on an island with only one main strip along the beach and no roads? Turns out, a lot. Those five days turned into over two weeks. I read about ten books, ate amazing grilled fish every day, and spent every night sitting on the beach under the giant starry sky making new friends from around the world. I still think of the Perhentians as paradise.

11. Melbourne, Australia

Melbourne Australia

During my backpacking stint around Southeast Asia in 2011, I had the wild idea to fly to Australia to visit my friend Ali, who was living in Melbourne at the time. I could only afford ten days (and those ten days used up more of my budget than an entire month in Laos and Cambodia) and I thought that I would start in Melbourne and perhaps take a road trip outside the city, or even try to get a domestic flight to Sydney. Turns out, other than a day spent along the Great Ocean Road, I stayed in Melbourne the entire time. With some of the best street art I’ve ever seen, plus a fantastic café culture, Melbourne turned out to be one of the cities I could envision myself living in one day. Even with ten fairly packed days of sightseeing, I barely scraped the surface. I’d love to go back.

Bonus 12. London, UK

London UK

This one shouldn’t really count, as I live here now… but I am still devastatingly in love with this city. I have my ups and downs with it (like any relationship) but I can confidently say that I have no desire to live anywhere else at the moment. Whatever you want, London has it (or its only a short flight away). London is one city that I can’t imagine saying that I want to leave at all.


What about you? Do you have a place you kept saying you’d leave tomorrow? 

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Katie Featherstone July 17, 2014 - 1:10 am

I know exactly what you mean about Utila. I could have stayed there forever!

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 1:51 am

I’d love to go back!

Actually... July 17, 2014 - 9:42 am

Havana. That’s where I’ve never been that I must must go to. What a lot of lovely inspiration! And I’m totally with you on spending the time, and really getting to know a place. Much more satisfying than constantly flitting.

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 5:35 pm

I’m sure you would absolutely love Havana! There is so much to do in that city, and the people are so kind.

Nikita July 17, 2014 - 11:41 am

I have yet to visit Pai, and yet I’m already hopelessly in love with it. I can only imagine how hard it will be to pry myself away when I actually make it there!

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 5:33 pm

Pai is such a dreamy place, I think I might go back later this year!

Tam July 17, 2014 - 12:10 pm

Oh Brenna! I love your blog and the way you write.
The pictures you take make me want to travel and visit the whole world 🙂 🙂
I especially like when you describe your “love stories”, you should definitely write a book about love stories 😀 I would be glad to read it 😉
Keep posting articles, please <3 😀 and enjoy London 🙂


Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 5:34 pm

Thank you so much, Tam! Plenty more stories to come…

Laura July 17, 2014 - 12:40 pm

London was definitely a city I didn’t want to leave! While in the Gilis in indonesia I was only going to stay for 5 days, I ended up staying for 11! Some places just suck you in.

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 5:32 pm

The Gilis sucked me in, too! Well, I knew that that would happen, so I went ahead and booked two weeks there (it was at the very end of my nine months in Southeast Asia). I could have stayed much longer…

Zalie July 17, 2014 - 1:11 pm

I loved this post! I think that some of the best travel memories come from staying in a place where you just don’t want to leave. That was definitely the case for me when I went to the Perhentians (btw I was there in 2000, not 2001 haha)! Originally I only wanted to stay a week but that quickly turned into a month 🙂 I still laugh about your Israel/Jordan plan…don’t worry, next time you come I promise to get you out of Tel Aviv! xo

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 5:33 pm

Oh how ambitious I was… and yes, I really want to see Jordan next time!

Ashley @ Ashley Wanders July 17, 2014 - 7:17 pm

Loved this! I also could not get enough of Melbourne and would still love to revisit.

Brenna Holeman July 17, 2014 - 8:50 pm

Thanks, Ashley! I would also love to revisit Melbourne, pity it’s so expensive to get to from the UK…

Gemma July 18, 2014 - 12:40 am

I can completely relate to this post, It’s interesting to see the variety of places that have drawn you in too!
I have only been to Utila on your list, and it didn’t have the same draw on me, however, I have experienced the pull of a place, I spent 6 weeks in San Pedro on Lake Atitlan, Guatemala. I was learning Spanish there, and after an initial 2 weeks there I found it hard to leave, particularly as I made so many friends there and was living in a fantastic home stay family.
The other place that drew me in was Little Corn Island, Nicaragua. I left after a week as I’d planned, but I love relaxing on the beaches, snorkelling and diving there, I could easily have stayed for longer if I hadn’t decided to leave with a new travel buddy!
I’d love to go to South America, I’ll definitely leave plenty of time for Columbia after reading this post!

Brenna Holeman July 19, 2014 - 3:58 pm

I think that Utila had that pull on me because I met such a great group of divers and enjoying diving with them so much. Had I not been diving I don’t know if I would have felt the same way!

I only had one day in San Pedro, and I would love to go back to experience it fully. I also spent a week on Little Corn and really enjoyed it, even though it poured rain the entire time! I would also like to go back there and see it in all its sunny glory.

I really can’t recommend Colombia enough – it’s one of my favourite countries in the world. I hope you get to go soon!

Elina July 18, 2014 - 2:38 pm

I was so happy to see Melbourne on this list! I haven’t been travelling all that much yet – still more than most of my friends, mind you – but I’m certain Melbourne will always have a special place in my heart. I spent two months there during my Australian trip and ended up going back for a week more later, and now that I think back I can’t say I did much anything, but I still loved every day. I had a convenient little romance there, partied with a couple of insane Irishmen, got a great job and then got fired from it… I had my ups and downs but the city always had someting that could comfort me, and the suburbs are absolutely delightful. That is really the only word I can use 😀 god, I love Melbourne.

Another city like that would be Tallinn. Completely underrated as a city since it’s swarming with rude Finnish tourists in search of cheap alcohol and overlooking the fact that the old town is one of the prettiest in Europe, and that the locals are incredibly friendly and warm-hearted.

Brenna Holeman July 19, 2014 - 4:00 pm

Yes, Melbourne is such an amazing city! I think everyone I know who has lived there or visited has completely fallen in love with it. If only it wasn’t so expensive…

I really liked Tallinn, too. I agree that it is underrated… I think that Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania are underrated in general, and they’re all fantastic to visit! I was in Tallinn in 2006 and so I think it’s time for me to return…

Craig July 19, 2014 - 3:19 pm

A lot of people never leave Pai – it should come with a warning!

Brenna Holeman July 19, 2014 - 3:56 pm

Ha ha – indeed it should! I think I’m heading back this November…

Kiara Gallop July 20, 2014 - 4:04 pm

I’m with you on Pai. Although there’s not a lot to ‘do’ there, it somehow draws you in. I love the surrounding countryside, the laid back vibe, the food and the smoothies 🙂 Recently Cusco in Peru was the one place I found it hard to leave. I totally love the San Blas neighbourhood and if I’d had time I could have easily based myself there for a few months learning Spanish and aimlessly wandering its cobbled streets.

Brenna Holeman July 20, 2014 - 8:59 pm

I really liked Cusco, too! I spent nearly a week there before going to Machu Picchu. I nearly fell so many times on those cobbles… they were so slippery!

Stacey July 29, 2014 - 7:09 am

Woo hoo! Melbourne made the list!

Some of those places I have been and some I am planning to go to… and am now super keen for south/central america! Well, I was before, and I am more now…

Brenna Holeman July 29, 2014 - 4:35 pm

Central and South America are amazing! I hope you get to go soon…

Yzzah August 12, 2014 - 6:29 pm

Hello Brenna!
I must say that I really like your choices of places. I’m particularly interested in Tel Aviv (after reading a book which was supposedly set there). Also, I like how you were honest that you like some of the places not because of the attraction.
I hope you visit El Nido again!

Brenna Holeman August 14, 2014 - 2:07 pm

Thanks a lot! I’m glad that you like the choices. I do recommend Tel Aviv although at the moment it is perhaps better to wait until things have settled down a bit.

I hope to visit El Nido again, too!


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