When I was a little girl, I distinctly remember going into travel agents, taking loads of brochures home and cutting out all the places that I wanted to visit. I had a fascination with Venice, for some reason (a fascination that, now I am a grown-up, has completely disappeared), but I also dreamed of Paris, Rome and New York, as well as more exotic locations such as Dubai and the Maldives (7-year-old me was clearly in a dream-world).
From the age of 16 I knew I wanted to do a gap-year between college and university so that I could travel, and I worked my little behind off to make that happen. I worked in pubs, Chinese takeaways, hairdressers, ASDA and as a waitress in a hotel over three years to make my travel dreams a reality.
So while I know I am very fortunate to have been able to visit so many fantastic places, I also worked really hard to make them happen. I have been blessed with some incredible travel moments over the years and I thought this would be a rather wonderful way to document them all. Also, it may even inspire you when you are considering your next adventure!
During my gap year, the plan was the volunteer in Kenya, India and then doing a tour of Europe. Yet three days before Kenya, I met David and we had our first date a week after I got back. Smitten with a new boyfriend, that plan soon went out the window… (it’s okay, we are still together five years later and I made him go on lots of holidays with me to make up for it!).
I spent one month in Kenya, volunteering in HIV clinic, schools and orphanages, and on the weekends I got to do some incredible activities; a safari, visit an elephant orphanage, ride a camel, hold a baby crocodile, ride a bike through a game park, kiss a giraffe, and visit a Maasai Tribe. While I consider everything I did in Kenya incredible, I’ll only stick to three as that could be a whole other post in itself.
Kissing a giraffe is something I will always remember. You go up in a wooden tree house, where they give you these pellets that the giraffes love. You can, of course, just feed them from your hand, but the guide I was with showed us that if you put them in your mouth it looks like you are kissing. It’s quick as a flash though as there tounges are SO LONG, so I was probably licked about 7 or 8 times by this giraffe before we got this shot. Her name was Lynn too!
Another highlight was visiting an elephant orphanage. Poaching is such a huge problem in Kenya, and the volunteers at the orphanage dedicate so much of their time to try and combat it, but also to raise these adorable baby elephants that are left behind when their mothers are killed. When we were there, a two-week-old baby elephant had arrived the previous day as its mother had just been killed for her tusks. Its heartbreaking to think that such evil can happen, but also incredibly moving to see the volunteers dedicating their lives to saving these elephants. They are so playful and each had its own little personality, they even like playing a game of football with each other!
Finally, the biggest highlight of my Kenya trip was visiting a Maasai tribe. We spent about an hour or so, walking around the village, visiting their homes and watching a traditional Maasai dance. The tribe leader showed us around, answering any questions we had and allowed us to take some small souvenirs home with us. It was an incredibly rare opportunity to get a glimpse into the traditional Maasai life, and one that I am forever grateful for.
Seeing as I was no longer travelling around Europe, I explained to David that I would be in need of a really good holiday to make up for it. We settled on Rome and spent a week in this glorious city, eating our weight in Pizza and Gelato.
Rome was our first holiday together, so will always hold a special place in my heart, but the best travel moment of the trip, for me, was St Peters Basilica. Arriving a little after 10 am, we were blown away by the sheer grandness of it all. We joined the queue for a tour, and we were fortunate enough to have a really enthusiastic and informative tour guide. It was the first landmark we visited Rome, and while Rome is filled with fabulous historical monuments, St Peters Basilica remains my favourite. It really confirmed to me how magnificent Rome is.
Paris is the perfect city to get lost in, and that is exactly how we spent our long weekend. We were fortunate enough to have gorgeous sunny weather and, as we visited in September, the leaves in the parks were just starting to turn into the most beautiful autumnal shades of yellow, red and orange.
While the Effile Tower was stunning, the Arch Di Triumph impressive and Notre-Damn Cathedral breath-taking, my best travel moment was strolling in the park, our bags filled with freshly baked bread and almond filled croissants, talking about nonsense and watching the world go by. When I look back at our time in Paris, it is those moments that feel me with nostalgia and a desire to go back.
Morocco was my first all-inclusive holiday, one that David was desperate for after the past two holidays being city breaks. I thought I wasn’t too much of a sit by the pool and do nothing kind of girl (turns out I am), so I’d convinced David to sign up for lots of excursions while we were there.
One of the best excursions we did was a visit to The Atlas Mountains. We drove around in a 4×4 in the scorching summer sun (at mid-day it was 40oc!), admiring the views, visiting a traditional Berber household for lunch and spotting the goats in the trees who were on the hunt for argan berries. Our guide was phenomenal as well, hilarious, informative and made the entire trip rememberable.
Last year, we did a road trip around Bavaria and Austria, and Bavaria well and truly stole my heart. The best moment of the trip? Not castles, or lakes or mountainside views. But having breakfast in the main square of the colourful town Memmingen.
As soon as we arrived at Memmingen, I fell in love. We had has a busy couple of days, driving around lakes and mountains, and visiting fairy-tale castles. Pulling up into this colourful small town was a breath of fresh air, and we were able to take a slow down and take the rest of the afternoon at our own pace. The morning we were set to leave for Munich, we got up at 7 am, heading into the main square which was less than 30 seconds from our hotel room, and had breakfast outside of a cute little bakery; fresh croissants and two cappuccinos. The sun was out, and while there was that freshness you get in the morning, it wasn’t cold. It was the ultimate people-watching spot, and I wish I could have stopped time to remember the peacefulness of it all. It was perfect.
The beauty of Austria is like something out of a postcard and while everywhere was beautiful, Gosauee was a hidden treasure that we virtually had all to ourselves.
After spending the morning at Hallstatt, I saw on a Trip Advisor thread that Lake Gosausee was a hidden spot that people often overlook. We rocked up mid-afternoon and couldn’t believe how empty it was. It was a small lake with pristine blue water and backed by the most breath-taking mountain landscape. We spent most of the afternoon sat at the water’s edge, admiring the views and feeding some friendly ducks that had come along for a visit. It was postcard-worthy and a travel moment highlight that I won’t forget.
Finally, we have Liseberg Christmas market, the largest Christmas market in Scandinavia. I visited this past Christmas with my mum and it was quite possibly the most magical place on earth.
I love Christmas, and the magic that the festivities brings, and Liseberg market captures that essence perfectly. Everything is laid out in the most beautiful and classy way, from twinkling lights, snow-covered lamposts, hot coals and carrots in carts for the reindeer. They have nightly ice-dancing shows, as well as carolers walking around and singing in the streets. Smells of warm sugared almonds fill the air, along with gingerbread and hot, mulled glogg. Kids walk around with a permanent state of awe and wonder, and most adults do too. It certainly is a wonderful place, making it one of my favourite travel moments.
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