Tuesday Traveller: Claire Hopkins – Wandering, Not Lost

This week we have Claire Hopkins. She’s a British 29 year old whose jacked it all in to go back to Australia on another Gap Year. When she’s not writing profound poetry I don’t understand she’s dreaming up adventures in far and exotic places.

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Where is your favourite beach in the world?

Porthcothan Bay in North Cornwall. It’s classic Cornwall in that it just appears at the side of a country lane – rolling grassy dunes giving way to an empty expanse of sand, ending at the crashing Atlantic. The surf is great, the locals are chilled and those sand dunes are the perfect setting for a barbeque on a summer night after a long day catching waves. Throw in a blanket, some good music and a few beers and you couldn’t get much closer to perfect for me.

You walk into a Hostel and everyone must graffiti on the wall. What do you write?

“Not all who wander are lost”. When you decide to take some time out and go travelling a lot of people will support you, but you’ll always get some who question your motivation. You’ll probably hear comments along the lines of ‘whatever you’re running from you’ll just take it with you’ – for me this J.R.R Tolkien quote is an answer to that. Travelling isn’t about being lost, not knowing where you belong or where you want to be. It’s about wanting to be everywhere, to experience as much as possible and to belong in the moment, not in a physical location.

What’s the most memorable Hostel you’ve stayed in?

Definitely the Belford Hostel in the centre of Edinburgh. It’s a totally unique hostel, housed within a converted 19th century church. From the street the place still looks exactly like a historic church, so I use the term ‘converted’ fairly loosely. Inside it has retained its huge, ornate stained glass windows, and original high ceilings, lending the place a funky, gothic feel. Plus it has a great residents bar downstairs in the cellar/crypt which is slightly creepy.

Scuba or Sky Diving?

Scuba. When you spend time diving a reef or a wreck you’re literally experiencing a new world. You’ll see things that people who don’t dive will never have the chance get to set eyes on, and every dive is different, even at the same dive site. I love the feeling of serenity that comes from being underwater. Everything is quiet, it’s darker, and life happens at a different pace – it’s just you, your buddy and the fishes, with no pressures and no time limits beyond the air left in your tank.

What type of traveller really bugs you?

Competitive ones! This often manifests himself in the question ‘so how long have you been travelling for?’ Whether you’ve been away from home for 2 months or 2 years it shouldn’t be about counting off the days – it’s the experience that’s important.

What book are you planning on taking with you on your next journey?

I’m looking forward to re-reading Jack Kerouac’s ‘On the Road’. It really captures the sense of freedom and the longing for the open road that makes anyone take a trip. It’s based on a real journey that Kerouac himself made across the breadth of the states in the 1950’s – he set off from New York with fifty dollars in his pocket and had the most amazing set of experiences that he eventually turned into this iconic book.

In your opinion, what do you think is the sexiest nation?

It’s an awful cliché but I’m a total sucker for an Irish accent. I met a Dubliner in Sydney who could have pretty much read the phone book out to me and I would have been entranced! For me a bit of charm and a sense of humour go a long way towards sexiness and so far I’ve never met an Irish man short of either!

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