I turned 26 last week, whilst I was in Edinburgh, and amidst the celebrations and travel, I took some time out to think. To think about what I loved over the last 26 years and what I’d like to do differently this year.
This got me thinking. I’m a girl who is fully consumed by wanderlust. I’m asked all the time about where I’m going next and yes my list is endless. I’d love to travel the whole world – and that’s no small ambition. This year, I’m going to consciously remember how lucky I am for having been to some of the most wonderful places in the world. I want to take more time out to appreciate the trips I have made, as well as make new discoveries.
Recently, I’ve been joining the monthly Travel Link up, where a group of us travel bloggers write on one topic for one post each month. Last month, I co-hosted the Travel Link up and wrote all about the incredibly inspiring Mexico City. This month’s Travel Link up theme was a bit more abstract! I was asked, “If travel was a menu, what would be your starter (short haul), main (long haul) and/or dessert (a place with a lasting impression)?”
I thought hard and toyed with the paradox of choice. So many options! I’ve been to so many incredible places – where do I start? I decided to go with a few of the places I’ve been daydreaming a lot about recently! So, based on the trips I’ve made, here are three that would make up my “travel menu”.
Hint: There’s a “course” choice in here that you may not have expected from me. Read to the end!
Starter – Short Haul
Copenhagen in Denmark is to me, the perfect weekend break from the UK for any foodie. With flights taking less than two hours, and often costing very little (we once flew for £20 from London Ryanair!) Copenhagen is a perfect spot to soak in some culture, fall in love with the art of Danish hygge (think warming candles, fluffy cushions, minimalist interiors, hot mulled wine over winter and other cosy little pleasures).
I’ve visited twice and even now I’d return happily in an instant. It’s been named the happiest city in the world and I can see why. Not only is it achingly cool but it is laid back, pretty and the people are seriously welcoming.
The fashion scene is, to me, some of the best. I struggle to find pieces I like but both times in Copenhagen I’ve come back with suitcases filled to the brim. You just can’t beat the shopping!
I love picking which boat I’d have, amongst sherbet coloured Nyhavn, where the canals are. I love walking hand-in-hand with my other half around the maze of cobbled streets. I love catching some sun in the lush, green parks. But most of all, I love the food in Copenhagen!
The capital of Denmark is truly going through a foodies revolution. Scandi-style influences everything from top-notch street foods at Torvehallane Market, kooky little coffee shops to high-end fine-dining iconic restaurants like Noma. Nordic cuisine to me has the best bread in the world (the sourdough bread from Mirabelle Bakery has a firm spot on my wish list for my last ever meal on earth!).
It’s a small enough place that you could see it in a weekend from the UK, but it’s so charming that you won’t be able to resist going back time after time!
Main course – Long Haul
A truly alternative long haul that I loved was visiting Canaima, in South-Eastern Venezuela, along the border between Guyana and Brazil. We were off to see the highest uninterrupted waterfall in the world, Salto Ángel, more often known as ‘the Angel falls’. These falls are named after Jimmy Angel, an American who was searching for gold and diamonds in 1935, and instead happened upon these falls.
There is no road access to Salto Ángel, instead masses of lush wilderness which truly adds to the magic. Honestly, the views on the hike through Canaima National Park are just as breath-taking as Salto Ángel itself, through beautiful smaller waterfalls, with exotic wildlife and incredible colours.
This was one of the places where truly the journey is equal to the final destination, in terms of beauty, and even though flip flops are officially the worst choice of hiking footwear, I loved this hike so much!
It’s a place unlike any other. Canaima is a wildlife-rich destination that didn’t fail to surprise and impress me. I visited with my best friend, without very much research but with a strong bout of wanderlust and a desire to explore. It’s a spectacular national park and one I have incredibly fond memories of!
Sadly, for most, Venezuela is no longer on the tourist to-do list. Whilst it was once a very rich, powerful country, it’s now deemed unstable and relatively unsafe. It’s a real shame as for me, it’s one of the most interesting and beautiful places I’ve visited.
Despite this, it’s a long-haul destination I won’t ever forget and deserves to be recognised for a place of unrivalled scenery.
Dessert – the spot with a lasting impression
I don’t think I’ll ever forget visiting South America for the first time. I was nineteen years old and went to Argentina and Brazil for 6 weeks on the first independent trip I’d ever made. From this trip, one place stands out to me more than any other, and it is where I escape to in my daydreams on any bad day.
Paraty in Brazil is an easy place to get stuck into and an even easier one in which to linger, amongst the pristine soft flour-like sandy beaches where you can spot turtles and catch a Brazilian tan. Its cobblestoned streets are closed to most cars so pollution is low and there is an easy going vibe. It’s the place I felt safest in all of Brazil, so much so that the hotel owners told us it was fine to hitch hike up the main roads, and we even caught a lift with a man transporting bananas (but that’s a tale for another day!)
With dozens of picture-perfect, secluded beaches, rum distilleries and a backdrop of the vivid green jungle, it is my paradise and a place which left an impression like no other. One of my happiest travel memories was diving into the turquoise waters with the sound of samba music on the boat.
It’s hard not to fall for Paraty as the people are kind, the beaches are some of the best in the world and the tropical fruit just can’t be beaten! I’ve vowed to go back one day, and if you get the chance you should too!
I’ve been lucky to visit these beautiful places. On the next drizzly grey day in London, well, you know where my mind will be!
Which places have you loved? Have you visited Denmark, Venezuela or Brazil? Have you got any of these on your list? Leave me a comment below, I love to hear from you! xx
At the beginning of each month, I like to take part in the monthly travel link up hosted on the incredible blogs by Angie, Emma, Polly and this month’s special co-host, Binny’s Kitchen and Travel Diaries. You can join in too by leaving a comment below, checking out other posts on the link up, or adding your own post to the widget now until May 7th.