Top ten travel experiences so far




Could you manage to list the ten favourite places you’ve ever visited in your life? Before we sat down to plan this year’s big travel adventure, we thought we’d give it a go. Is yours on the list?


No Name cayN: Hiring a boat in Green Turtle Cay in the Bahamas and heading over to the neighbouring island – No Name Cay – which was uninhabited. Moored up on the most amazing beach I have ever visited.

J: Visiting Anne Frank’s hiding place in Amsterdam at 13; just after reading Anne’s diary. Powerful, heartpunching moments.


N: Staying the night in the mountain monastery in Montserrat, near to Barcelona. Once all the tourists had gone, and the moon was shining on the pale rock, it felt like another world.

J: Jumping out of a hot Saab into gaspingly cool, clean summer lakes touring Sweden at seventeen…and realising there were more lakes to dip into whenever we pleased.


Nice bay croppedN: Visiting the stunning 2,500 year old Persepolis, seat of the Persian Empire, in Iran in the 1970’s, before the country went into lock-down. Just like Jane with her Tonga project, I did a project on Iran for school too.

J: Gazing down at the blue Bay of Angels in Nice from the Colline du Chateau and realising you could still hear children squealing way below, as they ran into the sea.


N: It’s an incredibly odd experience floating in the Dead Sea. The water feels oily and, of course, you are so buoyant. But this day in 1993, whilst looking up at the cloudless sky, it began to rain. I’m not entirely sure how the atmospherics created this phenomenon, but the whole thing was topped off when a coach-load of Soviet opera singers got into the water and started belting out arias in Russian. Just surreal.

J: That first holiday without parents: feeling unfettered, bordering on the feral, to be one of six 16 year old girls trusted to behave in a Camber Sands caravan for a whole week. We didn’t.


N: A school trip when I was 13 to the Swiss alps in summertime – to this day it is probably the most beautiful place I’ve ever been.

J: Trembling with excitement to be snuggling down in pyjamas, aged six, with my eight year old sister, before a long night’s voyage from London to Scotland in an ageing Ford; in a mini double bed formed by the back seat and a piece of hardboard alongside it; mum lighting cigarettes which she’d pass to Dad all night to keep him awake at the wheel.


N: Waking up on the sleeper to Fort William, wandering down to the dining car and watching the unbelievable highland scenery scroll by. And going eyeball-to-eyeball with a magnificent red stag.

J: Trying to take in the murderous magnificence of Rome‘s Colosseum and its breathtakingly brutal past.


N: Watching my daughters’ faces as we walked round the Medina in Marrakesh – their eyes were like saucers!

J: Feeling true love for Paris, as I stood alone at the top of the Montparnasse Tower and drank in the city below…..


P1010156N: Reaching Everest Base Camp in Nepal, in 2012 – the hardest physical and mental challenge that I have ever faced.

J: …..then remembering the vista from the Top of the Rock in New York with two equally excited daughters: taking in its exhilarating view of the Empire State Building; before laughing and singing the night away at Ellen’s Stardust Diner on Broadway.


N: Venice – just everything about the place. My favourite city where, to my mind, 20150211_130446‘decrepitude’ translates directly as ‘beauty’.

J: Realising my youngest daughter Alice, an au pairing 18 year old, was a pretty smart adult, as she negotiated hairpin bends from Geneva up to lunch in the mountains in beautiful Les Gets overlooking Mont Blanc …and then treated me to a spa massage. A breathtakingly wonderful day.


N: A near silent, sunset camel ride in the Sinai desert with my elder daughter (then about 5 years old) sitting in front of me, ending in a starlit dinner on rugs in a Bedouin camp.

J: Standing on a simple but stunning lakeside pier at Pepin, Wisconsin with close friends and family, as eldest daughter Juliet married Jake. One of life’s best ever days.

We’d love to hear your best travel experience. Or, even better, your top 10!

10 thoughts on “Top ten travel experiences so far

  1. So, a top 10 of travel…it’s tricky with so many moments over so many years, but here’s today’s list ( subject to change every time I remember something else wonderful!)

    In at 10 is the 10 hours we spent on a train last year….meandering down from Montreal, past the side of Lake Champlain for what felt like hours & then arriving in New York. Snow falling outside, hot chocolate inside…

    Gazing in awe from the top of the Eiffel Tower with a whole bunch of school mates on our first exchange visit …think the snogging with Gary was pretty good at the time too!

    Sitting on a US bound plane as a young teenager, my first flight, with my 68 year old nan next to me, also her first flight, she kept jerseys shut nearly the whole way to Atlanta…

    In seventh spot….seeing the face of my daughter light up when she saw ‘Cinderella’s Castle’ in Walt Disneyworld…truly a magical,place for little ( & big) children.

    Leaving our package holiday hotel in Turkey & driving hundreds of miles to get to Pamukkale…we stayed in a tiny farmhouse where the garden was criss crossed with dozens & dozens of strings of peppers & chillies drying in the sun…

    At 5 is 5 days, 8 friends & my 50th in Edinburgh last September…all standing at the top of Calton Hill in the sunshine drinking prosecco!

    Finding a fish restaurant smaller than my kitchen in a back street in Venice…rated as one of the best in the world where you wait for your table out in the street with everyone else & a glass of something cold & sparkling to help pass the time.

    Many highlights from our two trips to Oman, but for me the most wonderful was watching the sunrise over the ‘Grand Canyon’ at Jebel Shams before we went off to climb it…

    Standing at the top of a mountain in the Alps with three children age 11, 9 & 6 on their first skiing holiday & wondering if they’d all make it down in one piece…they did!

    And top of my current list is,
    Landing by seaplane in the Indian Ocean & being disgorged onto the tiniest pontoon to await the boat which would take us off to our Maldivian desert island…we stood & watched rays, sharks & all manner of tropical fish swim past us. Jaw droppingly beautiful.


    1. Wow…that’s quite an amazing list, Michelle, and plenty of miles covered! Thanks so much for contributing…ok..who’s next?! Don’t worry if they’re a bit closer to home–Michelle listed Edinburgh and I even had Camber Sands in the mix! Over to you….–J


  2. See, this is what happens when you start remembering where you’ve travelled….you get taken back to so many other places too…..I’d forgotten….

    Sitting in a bar up above Jemaa el Fnaa square in Marrakech watching hundreds of little restaurants pop up in the evening dusk…light, smoke & noise, not to be missed…

    Listening to Simon reading Harry Potter to our daughter on a tiny beach in a bay in Greece that we’d needed a boat to get to…..

    A ski holiday last year where we watched with pride our 22 year old son instructing a group ski lesson simultaneously in English & German…

    Watching a water spout form over the sea in Kas, Turkey…

    Eating BBQd sardines that had come straight off the boat in a tiny harbour side restaurant in Portugal as a young girl….I can still smell them!

    On a German exchange visit, sitting on a stone at the point where Germany, Belgium & the Netherlands meet…..

    And don’t start me on Sri Lanka…

    Eating the most fabulous fish curry in a scruffy little cafe a taxi driver took us to, it contained a whole crab!
    Watching the fishermen bringing in a catch up on their stilts..

    Driving high up into the hills to the tea plantations of Nuwara Eliya….

    Watching the Kandyan dancers….their equivalent of the whirling dervishes….

    Almost another whole list….so stop me now!


  3. This is brilliant, Michelle. With this many travel lovers and brilliant writers contacting us…we`ll be chartering a plane so you can all come….!!–J


  4. Yesterday I saw my 57th Birthday, sometimes you wonder what you have achieved, what have you seen. This blog has made me consider how lucky I have been, there is lots more where this came from.

    1. Llandudno. As a child Mum,Dad and I took the epic drive in our Ford Zodiac, from one seaside town, on the Thames Estuary to another. I remember lying on the Great Orme in a dip, wearing a scuba mask (don’t ask), watching the enormous gulls swooping overhead. Later after setting up home in Shropshire, Will and I have re kindled that love. The first class St Tudno hotel, breakfast overlooking Lake Como, it’s links to Alice in Wonderland,special touches including Molton & Brown toiletries. The Victorian arcades shopping, Punch and Judy make it a special place.
    2. Basel in Switzerland, my first holiday abroad. Flying from Stanstead airport, which in those days, was not much more than a small cargo airport. Then by coach through the stunning Swiss countryside for what seemed like a lifetime, to the Italian Adriatic Coast. My first Italian phrase “Aqua Minerale per favore”. My start of life time love for Italy.
    3. Venice. Firstly visit was with Mum and Dad. Piazza Saint Marco, the smells, the noise, the bustle. The canals, my fondest memory, on a water bus. Dad “What are you looking at?”. Me”I’m not, I’m being sick”. To this day I don’t have sea or air legs. Again, aged 40 years, I returned with Will in March. The best time to see this wonderful place.
    4. Paris. Again, two visits, two special lots of memories. Will and I, BC (before children) then again later the three girls! . The Louvre had grown on the second visit and Mickey Mouse had moved in. Notre Dame with or without Esmerelda, should not be forgotten.
    5. Vancouver, the Rockies, Banff, Jasper, paddling in Lake Louise. Four of us in a three man tent, my cousin Jennifer, her husband Murray, Will and I. We certainly made friends in such close proximity. I rang the UK for my midwifery results from the Rockies, a phone box and loads of dollars. My Dad was made to answer a bunch of tricky questions to check he wasn’t telling me I’d passed, so not to spoil our holiday. The ‘Bear Bins’ in the forests, never did see see a bear. The glaciers what a joy. Then later, with the girls, Vancouver Island, loggers, crisp air.
    6. Australia. Brisbane to Adelaide in a camper van. Long, long roads, never the like experienced before. Sydney, carrot cake siting overlooking the harbour from the Opera House. No Dame Edna. Hugging Koalas, before it was frowned on. Those beaches, deserted and solitude.
    7. New Zealand. The Four Smiths on the road. Dolphins and whales in the wild. T’s only ever birthday in the sun. Rotarua, Moari dancers, Polynesian springs. Thermal mud. White Water Rafting an experience never to be repeated. How I loved New Zealand, my family are there, it’s like home but far away.
    8. Hong Kong. I’ve always been fascinated by the orient. The overwhelming humidity, the stunning views from The Peak over the Harbour, riding on the Star Ferries. Bamboo scaffolding a health and safety nightmare. Food, smells, noise, people everywhere, what bliss.
    9. Singapore. The contrast between the orient and Arab, old and new. Unforgettable odour of damp from the old Arabic buildings. Raffles and the British presence.
    10.Sorrento. Italy again, I love this place. The bay of Naples, olives growing by the road. The best coffee in the world and ice cream. Pompeii, a sight that should be seen by everyone, a village frozen in time. The Italians have a special place in my heart and how I wish I could end my days there.


    1. Hi Julie. I love so many of your top 10 too, particularly, Venice, Hong Kong and Singapore. And we’ve got the Canadian Rockies and New Zealand in our round the world itinerary, which are new to me. Hope you enjoy our blog! N.


  5. Here we go then.
    10. Walking the Pennine Way with my son. Done in the approved manner- camping and buying milk and eggs from farmers.
    9. Trapani Sicily. I love Sicily,still undiscovered by many. Not Italy, nor Africa, but a vibrant place of great food and cheaper wine.
    8. Iceland. Simply stunning. The power of the earth made me realise how temporary a life is.
    7. Berlin. The great European capital-quirky, sometimes brutal. A place to be young in.
    6. Montevideo. Wow! What a city. South America in all its decadent luxury. Then…
    5 Buenos Aires. Boca Juniors versus River Plate. Utterly terrifying and magnificent.
    4. South Georgia. A long way… One of those places, where arriving is far better than the traveling. Take a vomit bag and be aware of horny seals.
    3.Namibia. Great red sky and elephants.
    2. Another African adventure Tangier Chaotic, beautiful, humanity with spices and great food. Morocco, might be my favourite place.
    1.Peak District. The missed bit around the fringes of Staffordshire. No one goes there, a place to wander around The Roaches, walk over reef limestones, listening to the sound of England. Take picnic and sketchbook.


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