I’ve been lucky enough to visit some incredible places, and at only 23, with a bit of luck I’ll get the opportunity to travel to a whole lot more!
I’d like to share with you some of my favourite places, and I’ll explain a little about why I loved visiting them so much (unfortunately some of my photos are on an old laptop, so I’ve borrowed photos where necessary):
- Vancouver. Ok so, I’m pretty lucky. Most of my Dad’s side of the family are Canadians and reside in this beautiful city! I’ve visited a fair few times as a result, and it never gets boring. To be quite honest, Vancouver warrants its own blog post – when I get chance I will write one! One of the things I love about it is the combination of (pretty snowy) mountains, beaches, and beautiful sprawling lakes and conifers combined with the city skyline and the Pacific Ocean. It offers pretty much everything! Everywhere you turn, there’s always something picturesque to see. The summers are generally hotter than those we get here in the UK, and – although I haven’t yet stayed in the winter – rumour has it the skiing is pretty damn good too… (watch this space!) One of my favourite things to do here is simply to grab a bike and cycle around beautiful Stanley Park. I recently visited with one of my closest friends and we had a great time doing just that.
- Maui, Hawai’i. I’ve been very lucky and visited the incredibly beautiful island of Maui in Hawai’i. Miles away from virtually anything and only accessible by flying in from Honolulu, I didn’t realise paradise existed until I stepped off the plane. Johnny Depp happened to be staying on the island filming Pirates of the Caribbean whilst I stayed, which meant he was spookily close! It’s a real haunt for celebs (unsurprisingly), and you’ll often spot them in the tabloids paddleboarding in Maui. Although I visited O’ahu en route and stayed on Waikiki Beach, Maui is a comparable dream. Waikiki is very overcrowded, and although still beautiful, overrated in my opinion. Head to Maui instead! We stayed in the Hyatt Regency Ka’anapali, which was stunningly beautiful and offered the most amazing views. Think hammocks and cabanas, sipping Mai Tais and eating fish tacos whilst you take in the mind-blowing sunsets. Head up the street to Whalers Village for a spot of leisurely shopping too – you’ll find some incredible freshwater pearl jewellery, Hawai’an cookies, and surfing gear. There is literally nowhere else like it and it is pretty much my favourite place in the world. Mahalo, Maui!
- Sydney. If you’ve read any of my previous blog posts, you’ll notice I recently returned from a flying visit to Australia. Sydney was where I stayed primarily – and wow, what a city it is! Visit if you’re a fan of warm, balmy temperatures, incredible beaches, good surfing, and great scenery pretty much wherever you turn. Although it is pretty expensive to stay here, try and get as central as you can. After having seen the Sydney Harbour Bridge and Opera House countless times in the media, there’s nothing quite like actually seeing it in the flesh. Make sure you do the bridge climb – even if you’re a bit scared of heights, they’ll look after you. Check out my post on doing just that here. Another highlight of my trip was heading to Palm Beach on Sydney’s northern coast. Whether you’re a ‘Home & Away’ fan or not, the beach is simply divine.
- Melbourne. Melbourne was also on my Australian agenda. I hadn’t really known what to expect before visiting this city. All I could really think was ‘Neighbours’ and Flinders Street Station. But it really blew my mind! It’s got a very European feel about it. Think tiny little cafes in alleyways, trams, plenty of street art, and some incredible food. As it’s in the territory of Victoria, you can naturally expect a lot of Victorian architecture, and as one of my favourite eras (I primarily studied Victorian literature at uni), this was really up my street (literally!) Head outside of Melbourne too for a trip to see the Twelve Apostles along the Great Ocean Road (incredible beaches with a really moody kind of atmosphere), and also head over to Phillip Island if wine tasting and feeding baby wallabies is your kind of thing! Read more about my trip to Melbourne right here.
- Antigua. A few years ago, I took a trip to the Caribbean. Antigua was chosen because of its absence of snakes (my mum has a terrible phobia!), and it was completely the right choice. One of the more obscure Caribbean islands, Antigua is composed of the capital – St. Johns – and holiday resorts all around the coast of the island. St. Johns wasn’t quite what we expected – a sincere lack of tourists apart from the cruise liners that turn up, and we did feel a little unsafe at times. It’s also sad driving in, viewing what are essentially shanty towns, but it was quite an eye-opener. The coast, meanwhile, is pretty amazing. We stayed at St James’ Club, and I would wholeheartedly recommend it. It’s an all-inclusive hotel that offers several dining options – three course a la carte restaurants, ‘The Docksider’ which offers barbecued grub whilst you watch the sun go down, and even a beach shack offering the tastiest chicken burgers and fruity cocktails to provide sustenance whilst you sunbathe.
- San Francisco. Probably my favourite American city, San Francisco has a big place in my heart. It feels more like a town to me than a city, but there’s so much amazing culture and history to this place. If you enjoy shopping, head to Union Square. If you want to taste local food, there’s clam chowder, fresh crab, and sourdough galore. Or, if you want to see the sights, there’s so much to see – the Golden Gate Bridge, Alcatraz (a definite highlight!), and the Coit Tower to name just a few. One of my highlights was heading to the Haight-Ashbury district. Renowned as being the centre of the Swinging 60s, see where Jimi Hendrix was a local alongside many other members of Club 27 – if you’re into that kind of culture, it’s definitely worth a visit. Hop on to a bus tour and see all of the sights in a relatively short space of time if time is of the essence. The Painted Ladies, Lombard Street, and Pier 39 are all also worth checking out.
- Miami. I’ve been lucky enough to travel all over Florida, and Miami is one of those places that has just happened to stick with me. If you’re tired of rollercoasters after visiting Orlando or simply fancy a classy beach break, you could always hop down the coast to Miami. South Beach is certainly one of my favourite beaches in the world. It’s just as you see on TV – beautiful people, celebrities, some incredible art deco hotels, and rollerskaters along the beach promenade. I stayed in one of the art deco hotels and the views are pretty incredible. When the sun goes down, there are plenty of restaurants, rooftop pools and bars to occupy you on the famous Ocean Drive, and some pretty impressive clubs too – although I was a little too young to experience these at the time I visited!) Do be careful here after hours, however. I do remember accidentally coming across some slightly shady areas so just bear this in mind and you’ll be fine.
- Iceland. A little more off the beaten track, Iceland was somewhere I visited with fairly low expectations but was hugely, pleasantly surprised. I’m desperate to go back, and here’s why: sparsely populated – meaning you get to avoid a lot of tourists (and locals!), some incredible outdoor swimming facilities, natural thermal spas, a unique culture (the national dish is ram’s head – yuk!), and some fantastic scenery. Make the Blue Lagoon your number 1 attraction – swimming around in a startlingly blue natural thermal spa with clay to cover your whole body does wonders for your skin! It’s sooo incredibly relaxing too. I have, however, heard there are other thermal spas across Iceland that are a little less touristy. If you’re into the geographical side of things, go trekking across a glacier, check out the many waterfalls across the country, or board a little plane and head over to the little island of Heimaey – previously renowned as a fishing island, if you can ignore the smell there is an incredible trek up the dormant volcano for some really great views. Reykjavik is also beautiful, and, as the most northern capital city in the world, you may well be surprised at how tiny it is! Worth a wander, nonetheless.
- Belleville. One of my final favourite destinations is a bit of a peculiar one. Nestled, essentially, in the middle of nowhere (or rural Ontario, Canada), is Belleville. I happened to stay here whilst with a friend travelling across Canada. She has family who live in Thomasburg, a tiny village near to Belleville. A bit unsure what to expect, we thought we would use it as a base for travelling to places including Ottawa, Niagara Falls, and Toronto. But while we did manage to fit these places in, we didn’t realise how much fun we’d have in and around Belleville itself. I think much of this was down to the fact tourists are virtually unheard of in this area of the country. They took us in in amazement, and we spend most of the time tubing across the stunning lakes, eating poutine (try it if you haven’t yet – you’ll never look back!), drinking our weight in Palm Bay, 4-wheeling across the landscape, and even shooting guns. It was amazing!