Ask anyone what their dream job is and (right after Full-time Lottery Winner and Smooth-talking Billionaire Superhero) you’ll get Travel Writer.
Imagine for a moment that it’s 1969: Hendrix is shredding Star Spangled Banner at Woodstock; war rages in Vietnam; a counter-cultural revolution is taking place in the western world, and you’re part of it.
The south of France doesn’t need much in the way of introduction. It’s a world-famous combination of destination and direction, forever synonymous with dreamy Provencal lavender fields, chateaux-dotted hillsides and seaside towns straight from an F Scott Fitzgerald novel. But there is a way of exploring this impossibly romantic region that doesn’t occur to most travellers: a week-long cruise down the Canal du Midi.
It’s a long uphill climb but smiles are back on innocent faces and time it seems has healed.
My wife and I left our jobs and lives in San Francisco last year to drive the Pan American highway from Canada to Patagonia in a camper van. In doing so, we became what are known as “overlanders”, or travelers who chose to travel by land, as opposed to flying into each destination. It was something we dreamed about for several years; the ability to explore as we please and move slowly through new countries.
Meet the Bartholomews, aka You Can’t be Serious.
If anyone needs me, I’ll be out buying a mountain bike and overcoming my crippling fear of heights.
Alain de Botton is the man who made philosophy cool again. A modern day Proustian who has written about love and happiness, deconstructed some of the most famous thinkers of all time and founded a global institution, the School of Life, a centre dedicated to “developing emotional intelligence”.
Warning: may include dangerous levels of natural beauty. Consume at own risk.