I have been a keen traveller for as long as I can remember. From childhood holidays to Spain, Portugal, Florida and many more to my first solo trip on a student exchange to Quebec aged 16, I have always loved the thrill of discovering somewhere new to me. As a painfully shy child, I would never have imagined that I would do the student exchange and what it would lead to. Spending a month with the host family in Quebec, surrounded by a language I only new through GCSE European French (there is a difference!), really boosted my confidence and upon my return I knew that I would be spending more time travelling than studying. I hadn’t ever figured out what I would do at university anyway, so I don’t think it was much of a shock to anyone when I made my education a travelling one.
I have been to some amazing countries and although there are still so many incredible places I’m yet to have visited, this week’s top 10 is all about where I have been and what their impact on my life has been. In no particular order, here goes:
- Quebec, Canada – It’s where my solo travelling bug was firmly caught in 2003 and I loved that province. From luging down a mountain to whale watching on the Saint Laurence river and eating copious amounts of poutine, it was a wonderful experience and I was lucky to have an amazing host family and their friends who welcomed me with open arms. Huge thanks to my local Rotary Club who arranged it all for me.
- Siam Reap, Cambodia – Phil and I were planning a final big holiday before we bought a house and tried for a baby and had decided on South East Asia. Cambodia was out first port of call and after a gruelling 2 days of travelling from Christmas Day 2012 onwards, it was atop a tower at Angkor Wat that Phil proposed to me. I truly thought he didn’t want to get married and had been trying to be okay with that so needless to say it was just amazing!
- The Gibbon Experience, Laos – Following on from Cambodia, Phil, myself and my sparkly new ring went to Laos to live in a treehouse for a few days. We trekked through the Nam Kam national park for hours with a great group of people before being divided into our treehouse groups. The catch? The only way to get to your treehouse and other parts of the jungle was by zip wire! Honestly, one of the most incredible experiences of my life and having a shower 200m above the ground having awoken to the sound of gibbons singing was magical. We were lucky enough to have a few glimpses of the shy and beautiful creatures swinging through the trees too. The Gibbon Experience is a conservation project and if you’re heading to the area I would highly recommend you check it out.
- Cornwall, England – Such a wonderful county full of treasures and I’m still yet to explore so much of it. I love The Eden Project, the beautiful fishing village of Fowey (pronounced ‘Foy’) and of course the beaches. Sadly I don’t eat fish and seafood but I have it on good authority that it’s wonderful there and I really do wish I liked it more. Or at all!
- Rio de Janeiro – I have been to Brazil a few times and lived in Sao Paulo for a few months but it was my return to the country in 2007 which saw me experience Rio for the first time. I adore the vibe over there, the food, music, drink – no Caiprinha in any bar over here is as good! I was travelling alone and do wish that I’d known Phil back then or had a friend with me to experience it all. The most wonderful part was after trekking up to Pico da Tijuca, which is one of the highest points in Rio. I could see everything from up there and as I was gazing over the city, a cloud gently floated over me. For a brief second I was cut off from the entire world and it was just breathtaking. As quickly as it came over me the cloud moved on and I was back on the top of a mountain but just wow!
- Machu Picchu, Peru – Before Rio, I spent a couple of weeks in Peru. Lima is only good for flying in and out of in my opinion, but my stay in the Amazon in a log cabin was amazing, Cuzco is one of my favourite cities in the world and the trek up to the famous Incan site of Machu Picchu was just spectacular. Again, I wish I’d known Phil or had a friend with me and I’m adamant that Phil and I will go there one day because as you reach the site and the view unfolds beneath you it really is the experience of a lifetime.
- Rome, Italy – Quite simply great attractions, great food, great people and great cars! Seeing world-famous landmarks such as the Colosseum and Vatican City along with going outside of the main city to the Pope’s summer residence of Castel Gandolfo whilst eating some of the best food in the world is a really great way to spend a few days.
- Lake District, England – I adore the Lake District and have stayed in and around Windermere a couple of times now. I love the Beatrix Potter museum, the boat trips, gorgeous cafes and restaurants, friendly locals and the best cooked breakfasts at the brilliant B&B’s! You really don’t have to leave the UK to have an amazing holiday and I’ve been to the Lakes during wet and sunny weather and had amazing times no matter what.
- Florida, USA – Call it over-commercialised, but I love the place! The theme parks are exciting and the people really are so friendly, plus you’ll never go hungry there! It’s not all about Disney either, which I think is a common misconception. My favourite theme parks are Universal Islands of Adventure and Busch Gardens but aside from the rollercoasters the state is home to beautiful beaches and The Everglades where you can get see native species such as alligators, bottle-nosed dolphins and even panthers.
- Home, England – Okay, sorry, cliche alert!! I adore mine, Phil’s and Toby’s home and it is my favourite place to be with my family. It’s the first house Phil and I have owned together, the house we came back to as newlyweds, the house we brought our newborn baby boy to for his first night on this earth. It’s special. We live in a 200 (ish) year old cottage in the East Midlands, surrounded by beautiful countryside and lovely people. It’s not huge and we’d certainly struggle to have more than two children here, but to be honest if having more than two meant leaving our village then we have said it would be a serious consideration to not have any more children because we love it here so much.
You’ll have to excuse the terrible pictures of pictures – I sadly don’t have the digital copies of my Brazil and Peru photographs.
Stunning sunset and a little photo-bomber in Cambodia!
The spot where Phil proposed (Re-enactment!)
Me and Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado
A dolphin in Florida
Incredible Machu Picchu
On segways in the Lake District
Here is a little clip of zip-lining and gibbons singing in Laos: