There are always going to be places that you love more than others. They are the ones you feel the pull to return to every time you think about or see a reminder of that place. Of course every traveller has an opinion on what is the greatest city and country to visit or live in the world so here are my picks for my best of travel so far and my reasons why.
It’s really difficult to pick just one. Kyoto, Prague and New York all come to mind instantly but if I had to pick just one I would go with New York.
Being in NYC was like walking around a real life movie set. Everything looked so familiar yet not, all at the same time. I loved the stunning architecture, the village feel of areas like Greenwich Village and Chelsea, the oasis of Central Park and most of all the sense of importance and opportunity the city gives off. New York is a melting pot of cultures from all corners of the globe giving it such diversity. As Alicia Keys sang “……concert jungle where dreams are made of there’s nothing you can’t do now your in New York”.
A few months ago I wouldn’t have had to even think about this one as Switzerland jumps straight into my mind but since visiting Japan and discovering how awesome it is I am going go with Japan for this one.
For me Japan, it’s all about the people, their unique way of life and hard working attitude, the diverse scenery and the delicious (occasionally odd) food. I was drawn originally to Japan because of my sister raving about it and I now join her in raving about it to anyone who will listen. I felt happy, safe and welcomed in Japan more so than any other place I have visited. It is such an interesting country that I could spend years exploring and never get bored.
Another tough one as I have seen so many amazing sights so far. The lochs, glens and towering mountains in the Scottish Highlands, the picturesque and romantic canals running through Bruges in Belgium and the gothic St Vitas Cathedral in Prague are all up there but this one goes to my first glimpse of snow at the top of Jungfrau in Switzerland.
For some people seeing snow probably isn’t that big a deal but for this Sydney girl who’s only experience with snow before this was a small pile on the side of the road in the snow fields of Victoria, it was incredible. So incredible that when I walked out onto the viewing platform where this pic was taken I cried a little (I am such a dork!).
The journey to get to the so called ‘Top of Europe’ (not the highest peak but the highest railway station in Europe) was pretty special in itself. Travelling by three trains from Interlaken in about two and a half hours, the scenery on the way up gives you glimpses of snow covered peaks, rolling green pastures and secluded Swiss Chalets. At the top there is more than just a viewing platform. You can take a walk out onto the snow, explore the ice palace, go skiing or sledging and take a hike through the snow.
Without a doubt this one for me goes to Italy.
In my three weeks in Italy I had some bad meals, well a lot of bad meals really. I managed to find myself in some of the most touristy restaurants that were dishing up so many meals a day that quality wasn’t their main priority. But the ones that were good were out of this world good.
From a delicious pizza and salad in Positano to a mouth watering pasta dish in Rome I managed to find a handful of incredible restaurants that I don’t think can be beaten no matter where I travel to in the future. An then there is the gelato. It became a staple in my diet with not a day went by where I didn’t have at least one. From chocolate to more fruity flavours like peach and strawberry, I was only disappointed once with a horrible pistachio gelato in the Amalfi Coast.
Pizza, pasta and gelato have never been the same for me since returning home.
Best Train Journey
I love travelling on trains! As this website grows you will discover just how much I love it.
In most cases, I think it is the best way to get from a to b because it is comfortable, scenic, practical and competitively priced. So you wont be surprise to learn that during my travels I have been on many great train journeys but the stand out here is a train trip in Switzerland from Interlaken to Lucerne.
The train trip was just supposed to be a means to get to Lucerne early in the morning so I could fit in as much sightseeing in the city as possible before heading to Zurich later that day. What I didn’t know was that the train I had tickets for was one of the dozen or so scenic trains running through Switzerland. I had heard of the Golden Pass train which runs from Montreux to Lucerne but thought you needed special tickets to take this sort of train.
Throughout the journey I was dazzled as the train climbed up and down the hills, along powder blue lakes and past towering waterfalls, through country side more beautiful than I had seen so far in my travels. To top that all off, due to the early morning, Mick and I were the only ones in the panorama carriage with extra large picture windows for viewing. So we spent the journey moving from one side of the carriage to the other to get a glimpse of the best unobstructed views available. It was two of the best hours I have spent travelling to date.
Usually my preference is for independent travel rather than taking tours but sometimes for whatever reason a tour can be a good idea. Theoretically you get the guidance of an expert tour leader, all of the leg work of organising accommodation and transport is taken care of and you get to meet like minded people and have fun. I have been on half a dozen or so multi-day group tours over the past few years, most of which had good and bad points but only one was the whole package for me, my recent Tucan Travel tour Back Roads of Japan .
To start with this was a small group so this made getting around and getting know everyone easy. There was no ‘cool group’ segmentation like you sometimes get on the bigger tours and everyone was super easy going and great to get to know.
Our guide was great also. A fellow Aussie, he knew all the facts, kept our little group in line and on time and took us to places for meals and entertainment that weren’t part of the tour like a Billy Joel themed bar in the Fuji Five Lakes district.
There was minimal included activities and meals with lots of free time which gave us the freedom to see and do what we wanted in each place. The transport had a sense of adventure, only travelling by train which to me is better than spending hours on bus each day just to get from city to city (although some of our travel days involved multi trains and hours of travel) and this gave us the chance to experience Japan’s famous bullet trains.
As for the places we visited it was a mix of big cities and off the beaten path rural areas such as Yufuin in the south. Next time I am looking for a tour it will be hard to go past a small group adventure tour like this one.
Best Day Trip
Day trips offer you a great opportunity to see something outside of the city your staying in. Whether it be a full day exploring a region close by or a half day trip to an attraction just out of town, every city you visit you will find a tour like this. My favourite day trip to date would have to be the full day excursion from Edinburgh to the Scottish Highlands, Glencoe and Loch Ness with Rabbies.
This small group, full day tour in a comfortable mini bus is a great way to see the Highlands and the lochs and glens of the region. Being in a mini bus our guide was able to pull over along the road anywhere a car could so we could hop out and take pics of the out of this world scenery. While in the bus he dazzled us with tales of the highlands and Scottish myths and history. Although we weren’t given a lot of free time at the scheduled stops, this is a great option if you don’t have days/weeks to explore the region on your own.
Best Theme Park Destination
I have been to dozens of theme parks all over the world now and plan to visit lots more in the future thanks to my husbands love of thrill rides. But nothing says fun and theme park more than Orlando, Florida.
Me and a group of friends spent ten days visiting eight theme parks in the region, including Disney Worlds Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios and Epcot. It was epic, exhausting and more fun than any other holiday to date. My favourite park was definitely Universals Islands of Adventure. I loved The Amazing Adventures of Spiderman ride while the boys went on The Incredible Hulk Coaster over and over again. No matter how old you are its hard not to find something to love about Orlando and its theme parks.
Over to you!
What have been your favourite travel experiences from the categories above?
Let me know using the comments section below or join me on social media to start a conversation.
Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoyed this post.