Our planet is so diverse and through travel, we are able to explore and experience as much of it as we can. There are destinations we may have been to already which have left us awe struck and which we will always remember fondly and there are still so so many left to see in our amazing world. It always amazes me how much we can learn from travel and from different cultures around the world. If I could (and there was no mortgage to pay), I would literally spend all my time travelling.
As the guest host of May’s monthly travel link up, I have chosen to link travel to the concept of a menu whereby if you had to pick a 3 course meal, what would be the destinations that you would remember fondly as your short haul, long haul and dessert as well as the ones you would select off a menu as your bucket list destinations?
I can’t wait to share my choices with you so without much further ado here is my travel menu! (PS I have saved the awful funny photos for the end).
Binny’s Travel Menu
Starters – Paris #ShortHaul
For my starters, I would 100% pick Paris as my all time favourite short haul destination. It doesn’t matter how many times I visit, that spark and excitement just never fades. Literally if someone said lets go to Paris now I would jump on that Eurostar train at the first opportunity because French cheese, bread, wine and of course French Onion Soup with croutons and a topping of cheese are a good enough reason to bid au revoir to London and Bonjour to Paris.
The first time I visited Paris was in 1998 and happened to be there when France won the world cup. The atmosphere there was just unreal. I have been a few times since and I have also been to Disneyland Paris a few times. I love the convenience of the Eurostar and the fact that it is so easy to get to.
I recently re-visited Paris and published a post about on what to do in a weekend in the City of Lights, as it is fondly known I stayed at a boutique luxury hotel which was in such a great location. The hotel, which is called Le Dokhan’s, is part of the Starwood Hotels portfolio and you can read my review here. It also happens to be home to Paris’s first ever Champagne bar so a really good reason to visit, even if just for a glass of bubbly!
As I had been to Paris before I felt less pressurised to visit all the main sights in a mad rush and instead chose to see them at a more leisurely spontaneous pace. We actually walked everywhere and didn’t take a taxi even once!
I loved randomly wandering into boulangeries, drawn by the aroma of freshly baked bread, and sitting outside indulging. I somehow also ended up in lots of Bistros, where I sipped wine and pretended to be Parisian. My advice is wander far from the tourist sites down random roads and just let yourself discover the real Paris until you find your points of interest to take those photos for the gram 😉
My second piece of advice is try and take some Macarons or baguettes (or both) back home with you so when you have the holiday blues they will perk you up! I did and it certainly helped.
Fun fact: The Eiffel Tower was meant to be a temporary structure but it still stands proudly as an iconic landmark.
Mains – Glamping in Kenya #LongHaul
This was a real tough one to choose from and I as much as I tried to pick something different I had to go for Kenya because it will always be my number one long haul destination. I wanted to share a particular trip, as I have a lot of content related to Kenya on my blog, so I have chosen our safari in Masai Mara, where we stayed at the luxurious Olare Mara Kempinski as my memorable long haul trip.
We had a short flight from Wilson Airport in Nairobi to the Olare Orak conservancy, which was close to the Ntiaktiak river, in an uncrowded part of the Masai Mara Reserve.
We had chosen to treat ourselves and stay in the honeymoon tent, which is literally glamping in the wilderness, and we even had our own plunge pool.
Our tent, which was the 12th and most remote, had an ensuite bathroom, an outdoor shower, indoor shower and bathtub, but my favourite part was definitely the plunge pool which had views of the Hippo Pool and the Conservancy. In fact at night we heard a hippo splashing about and it sounded so close that I was convinced the hippo was in our plunge pool.
Game drives were super fun and having gone on multiple safaris in my lifetime, this one was extra special as we had a Cheetah come up close to our car and then eventually jump on the car next to our and sit there for what felt like hours!
This was something I had never experienced before and was definitely one of those “pinch me” moments. We could hear her purring just as a cat does and she was simply using the roof of the car as a vantage point. It wasn’t scary at all and it certainly taught us a lesson both in patience as well as how as long as you don’t provoke an animal we can all live in harmony.
The conservancy also had such dramatic scenery and rugged savannahs and just took my breath away. There is just something about Africa – I can’t get enough of it and no I am not being biased!
If you haven’t been on an African safari, I cannot recommend it enough! If you are planning to go on one I have a post on top tips for an African Safari.
We were lucky to see such a vast variety on animals in the 3 days that we spent in the Mara and apart from the Cheetah, my favourites were the lazy lion and the slender lionesses and adorable lion cubs we saw, again so close to our car!
Our car had no windows as such so it was pretty exciting getting up close and personal with some of the big five!
The food at the lodge was exceptional and we were treated to both a romantic candlelit dinner inside as well as al fresco dining literally out in the wild.
If you are thinking of visiting Kenya and going on safari I can’t recommend the Olare Mara Kempinski enough. It is so private, ultra luxurious and the service and the food is superb.
Fun fact: The current Queen of England visited Kenya as a princess and left as a queen.
Dessert – Antigua and Barbuda #TheLastingImpression
The one destination which I would liken to dessert that has been the pièce de résistance
would be the Caribbean islands of Antigua and Barbuda, which come as a pair and a match made in heaven. This also happened to be where in June 2008 Amit proposed to me, and he couldn’t have picked a better place for it.
To be honest I am still shocked he wasn’t put off by the awful sun burn and tan I had recklessly somehow gotten whilst out there! This was also our first long haul trip together so a big test in our relationship.
I have covered the whole proposal story in a separate blog post which you can read here. However, Antigua and Barbuda is what kicked off my love affair with the Caribbean. We literally find sanctuary in that part of the world yearly with the exception of the last two years as we have been slightly wary of the Zika virus. We have since been to St Lucia, Barbados, The Bahamas, Cuba and St Kitts.
Antigua and Barbuda is definitely my favourite though as Antigua has 365 beaches…yes you read that right! One for every day of the year. Book that ticket and pack your bags because this is what the beaches look like! PS Excuse the quality of the photos as they were taken in 2008!
Seriously! How beautiful is that beach?
Highlights of our trip were the beaches, where we spent a heck of a lot of time soaking in the sun, drinking the Antiguan rum in the form of rum punches, the jerk chicken, listening to the Caribbean Steel bands playing popular tunes and the day trip we did on a catamaran to Barbuda.
Now this is Barbuda – is this not literally heaven on earth?
Barbuda has glimpses of pink sand and the romantic husband that I have bottled some up when I wasn’t looking and presented it to me as a memoir of our trip and I still have it sitting on my desk and it always makes me smile!
I cannot recommend Antigua and Barbuda enough and if you are going to Antigua you have to 100% do the day trip to Barbuda because it is seriously stunning.
It is the perfect honeymoon destination or an amazing island to relax and recharge your batteries. You can never get bored as there is so much to see and do and you are literally spoilt with 365 beaches to choose from! We did a boat trip around the island to see the various beaches as well as a sunset cruise, which was spectacular and which I highly recommend too.
Amit definitely picked the perfect place to propose and it will forever be etched in my heart, just like an amazing dessert that complete an incredible meal. The best thing is that what counts in this instance are the memories not the calories 😉
Fun Fact: Fire a grog means to drink rum
Bucket List Menu
Short haul – The Amalfi Coast, Italy
My bucket list short haul destination, which I am hoping to tick off at some point, is to drive along the breathtaking Amalfi Coast in Italy. I am smitten with the idea of driving around in a Fiat whilst stopping for gelatos along aromatic orange and lemon tree lined lanes.
I love Italian wine so I want to combine the trip with some visits to some vineyards! If anyone has driven along the Amalfi coast and has any tips I would love to have them!
Long haul – Costa Rica
I have recently become obsessed with Sloths. (Don’t worry I still also love Giraffes, Elephants and Rhinos). This is largely due to the hilarious sloth scene in Zootropolis although am sure Sloths aren’t that slow in real life! If you haven’t watched the movie, you can see the scene I am referring to here:
I recently discovered that there is a Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica and therefore Costa Rica has somehow whizzed to the top of my bucket list!
I would love to go visit the sanctuary as well as experience the beaches, volcano and hot springs, jungle, waterfalls and stay in a tree house! It is also apparently the world’s happiest country so what better place to be for happiness!
If anyone has been I would love to know more about it!
So there you have my favourite and ideal travel menu of short, long haul and most memorable trips as well as the ones that I really want to tick off my bucket list. I would love to know what you would choose as your favourite and bucket list short and long haul trips as well as which trip is forever going to be your fondest memory. Let me know in the comments section below!
If travel was a menu, what would be your starter (short haul), main (long haul) and/or dessert (a place with a lasting impression). These could be past, present or future travels. Have fun with the topic…
How to link up your post
Just pop your post up over the first week of the month (the 1st – 7th May 2017), add it to the link up widget found on Follow Your Sunshine, Adventures of a London Kiwi, SilverSpoon London, or on the blog of our lovely guest host Binny at Binny’s Kitchen and Travel Diaries from the 1st.
As ever there are no real rules – basically all we ask is that you check out some of the other cool bloggers that are involved in that months travel link up; tweet a few of the posts out to your followers that you think they will love and make a few comments here and there. It really is a great way to meet some new travel bloggers and share some blogging joy!
The Travel Link Up is open to all bloggers as long as the post is relevant.