Travelling has only recently become an interest of mine, as it was really only a few years ago I really discovered what it meant to travel. Sure, I’d been on holiday before, usually to the same place each year with my family, where we stayed in an all-inclusive hotel with a swimming pool. We ate in the hotel, we spent evenings with “entertainment” in the hotel. In fact, We never ventured far from the hotel, apart from the occasional trip to the beach or to a restaurant.
As I got older I would become increasingly bored doing the same thing every day, and would drag my family along on day excursions or to visit historical monuments. When I was old enough to stop going on family vacations and travel alone, that’s when the travel bug really hit me. There’s nothing that can beat the thrill of discovering new things.
When I travel I try to keep an open mind as much as possible. It’s not just about visiting the tourist sites, which are often crowded and expensive. To really get a feel for a destination I like to do whatever the locals do – sample the local cuisines, visit markets, or go for long walks around the village or into the countryside. So, in no particular order, here are some of my favourite travel destinations:
New York, USA
A bit of an obvious choice, but this was my first time visiting America and really I hadn’t seen that many tall buildings before. (Remember I live in a sleepy village in Scotland!) So every moment was “wow” for me, from the tall skyscrapers of Manhattan to the hip neighborhoods of Bushwick and Williamsburg in Brooklyn. We went for my 30th birthday and spent an absolute fortune. But then again, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so it was well worth it.
Highlights: Helicopter flight across Manhattan, vintage shopping in Bedford Avenue, picnic in Central Park, and sipping cocktails in a rooftop bar.
A little tricky to get to, with numerous coach trips and changes, but it’s definitely worth the hassle. When we went to Bled in 2014 I had no idea what to expect, but the scenery there was simply breathtaking. A fairytale castle on top of a cliff overlooking the lake, and a centuries-old church on an island in the middle of the lake. Log cabins and wooden chalets surround the lake, and the whole scene is bordered by snow-top mountains. It was like something out of a Disney movie.
Highlights: Climbing the hill to the castle, going for a nude sauna, spending my birthday with a picnic in a boat on the lake,
Of course, I am biased as I have always lived in Scotland. But I genuinely believe it has some of the most beautiful scenery in the world. People often forget to go out and explore what’s on their own doorstep, and I’ll never understand why. With Scotland being so small, you can drive anywhere in the space of just a few hours, so I often spend weekends camping around various parts of the country.
Highlights: Walking the west highland way, the Fife coast, Ancient Edinburgh
Cote D’Azur, France
I’ve visited the South of France four times, and one of the main reasons I keep going back is that there are so many picturesque towns and villages to explore. Plus the locals are friendly, the weather is great, and the wine is delicious, so what’s not to love?! People have a misconception that the South of France is only for millionaires. Yes, there are lots of expensive restaurants and fancy yachts, but it can actually be fun watching the other half pass by in their Louboutins and Lambourghinis. But there is plenty for “normal” people too! you can pick up some wine cheese and olives in the local supermarket for €5 and enjoy it on the beach, watching the sunset.
Highlights: Freshly caught seafood, day trip to Monte Carlo, Boat trip around the bay of St. Tropez, wine-tasting at local vineyard, antique market in Nice
If you want to let your hair down and party with friends, then Dublin is the place to go! The bars are bustling with people – both tourists and locals, and everyone is friendly and up for a good time. On Sunday afternoons, you’ll find traditional Irish bands playing in most bars, and a variety of other types of music during the week. Of course, you have to drink Guinness, which is brewed in Dublin, and you can have a tour of the factory to see how it’s made.
Highlights: Temple Bar area, Guinness Factory, Live Irish music, craic with the locals
You can read more about my travel adventures here.
Many thanks for reading, and please let me know your travel recommendations!
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