From boats to balloons, Hawaii to hotels, these are ten of our most memorable travel experiences in ten years of blogging.
"But really... what's your favourite place?" "So where should I go next year?" "Well there must be some place you didn't like."
After ten years of blogging, I hear questions like this all the time. Alas, dear reader, I am horrible with these queries. If you need someone to weigh in on finding pizza in Bruges or the quality of food tours in Quebec City, I am your girl. But sweeping generalizations are not my strong point. I can tell you about some destinations I didn't like - but I'd also have to get into how I slept funny the night before and skipped breakfast and honestly, that's probably what made me dislike Istanbul on my first visit (for the record, I love it now). The reverse also holds true. I'm convinced that an unexpectedly stellar hotel and accompanying breakfast factor into my long standing enthusiasm for Athens as the spot everyone should visit next.
That leaves the biggest question of all, my favourite place. People seem to think it's a bit of a cop out if I try to explain about how sometimes the most memorable trips aren't the most fun in the moment, or that the things that made me love a trip had less to do with the particular destination and more with other factors in my life. So sometimes I just name Hawaii as my favourite destination but this is what feels like the real cop out to me. Like, a decade spent travelling and writing about the world and my best answer is the one place that has long been established as the most desirable destination? Surely I can do better than that?
And that is exactly what I'm going to attempt here. These are ten of my most memorable travel experiences and destinations after ten years of blogging. I'm not going to go so far as to rank them or even say that they're my definitive top ten travel moments. These are simply the stories that flood my heart with happy remembrances and what they all have in common is that I invariably thought at some point that I truly have the best job in the world. And I do!
Death Sets With The Sun In Botswana's Chobe National Park
In Botswana's Chobe National Park, we happened upon an elephant in mourning. Watching the adult gently nudge and toss the bones of a long-dead baby, as if it was urgently trying to wake them up, was haunting.
A View From The Top Hotel In Istanbul
What's better than a bargain hotel room? A hotel room that's waiting for you at the end of an epic walk, the kind of 'I can't believe nothing went wrong' odyssey that sees you crossing the city with a vague hope that it all works out and then suddenly it does, spectacularly. This was the day that I decided to love Istanbul.
Exploring Belgium's Beautiful Countryside On Route To Aulne Abbey
In this minuscule hamlet in rural Belgium, we caught a glimpse of village life, explored a crumbling abbey, and indulged in one of our most memorable travel meals: slow-melted cheese, boiled new potatoes, and crunchy salad. My level of relaxation soared in tandem with my cheese consumption.
Besotted With Bagan: Day 10 & 11 of Our Round The World Trip
It's the kind trope that's overused in cheesy travelogues - you embark from your seafaring voyage to emerge as a stranger in a strange land, trying to make sense of the world around you. Yet our arrival in Bagan, Myanmar, was almost exactly that: We got off a river boat, negotiated a ride, and immediately found ourselves in the middle of a parade.
The BEST Travel Experience of My Life - My Ultimate Anti-Adventure with Balloons Over Bagan.
Even after nine years, it's hard to articulate just how magical, how spectacular it was to float over the ancient temples and pagodas of Bagan on a sunrise hot air balloon ride.
Tales From The Anti-Adventurist: Vanessa Survives Sweden's Wildest Boat Ride.
I do not do boats. I certainly do not do fast boats. But this wild ride through Stockholm's archipelago was nothing short of amazing and some of the best fun I've ever had (on water or land!)
Essence of Lapland "Flavor Tour", Jokkmokk, Sweden
As detailed in a blog post about our most memorable travel meals, the night we spent learning about Sami culture, song, and cuisine in a fur-lined meat smoking hut in Jokkmokk, a town within Sweden's Arctic Circle, remains possibly the most cozy travel experience we've ever had.
Roman Recipes: Culinary and Life Lessons from Nonna.
Thinking of this homey, delicious night in Rome in which we learned traditional recipes from a delightful local grandmother still fills me with joy after all these years. In truth, just about every cooking class we've ever participated in would be a contender for this list.
Orvieto Wine, Food, and Family
We wouldn't change a single thing about the gorgeous snug nook of a wine bar and restaurant we visited on repeat in Orvieto, Italy.
Exploring the North Shore: Oahu's Sweet and Sandy Side
If you want to get really technical about things, our trip to Oahu pre-dates the blog. But I'm going to slip it in because I have, after all, wrote about our landmark first trip to Hawaii. I'll never forget those first few glorious moments in the open-air airport, the warm gentle breeze, the tropical flowers. I said then and there that we'd return in two years - and we did!
Hmmm....Maybe Hawaii really IS my favourite travel destination after all.
Finally, a few honourable mentions
I'll never forget...
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