Who doesn’t love an excuse to reminisce over trips from years (or months) gone by? I’ve not done one of these tags for yonks, and in the weeks since Rebecca from Rebecca Goes Rendezvous tagged me in this one I’ve been mulling over my responses, leafing through photos and pondering future escapes. Let’s crack on!
1. How many countries have you visited?
19: Austria; Belgium; China (Hong Kong and Macau); Czech Republic; France; Germany; Italy; Japan; Luxembourg; Norway; Portugal; Republic of Ireland; Singapore; Spain; Switzerland; The Netherlands; UK; USA; Vatican City.
2. Which destination is number one on your bucket list?
New Zealand, for its jaw-dropping natural landscapes. I’d want to spend more than a couple of weeks there, though, so it’s not going to happen in the near future!
3. Three other places at the top of your bucket list?
- The Land of Ice and Fire looks bloomin’ beautiful, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about it.
- Patagonia – more specifically, Torres del Paine National Park.
- Closer to home: the Cairngorms National Park, in Scotland.
4. What does the ideal holiday look like for you?
5. Favourite picture you’ve taken during a trip?
Whenever I’m asked this question, I always seem to come back to this photo I took in Kamikōchi:
6. Have you had to travel for work? If so, where?
I moved to the Land of Baguettes for my first job – but once I was there, it was a half hour speed-walk into work each day. I’ve been to a few conferences with my current job: IATEFL in Brighton; ALDinHE in Exeter (followed by a long weekend in exploring Dartmoor National Park); RAISE in Newcastle (which involved an escape room-inspired workshop, PuzzlED); and our internal sales conference in Bath.
7. With whom would you like to go on holiday sometime?
Pretty much all of my trips are with Laurence, and I’m happy with that! (I highly doubt any of my friends could be roped into the sorts of hiking trips I like doing . . .)
8. Who or what would you take with you to an uninhabited island?
Bear Grylls – to maximise my chances of survival.
9. Would you rather go to a theme park or a zoo?
Zoo – hands down. But only if it’s engaged in conservation and treats its animals with the respect they deserve; not all zoos do. I’m an absolute wuss when it comes to rides.
10. Mountains or sea?
11. Which countries will you visit this year?
I’ve had my fill of overseas trips this year, but I’ve got a (much-needed) long weekend by the coast coming up.
12. Where would you never visit?
Anywhere the Foreign and Commonwealth Office advises against travelling to. I’m not prepared to put my life on the line to experience another culture.
13. Which place did you think was so special that you wanted to return immediately after leaving, and still want to revisit now?
Japan. I loved the fusion of old and new – ancient temples and glittering skyscrapers – in the bustling metropolises and the stunning countryside. Oh, and the cartons of pineapple iced tea from the vending machines.
14. A place you’ve been to that you would not go back to, and why?
Although I really enjoyed touring the National Air & Space Museum and taking in the view from the top of the Washington Monument (amongst other things), I can’t say I feel the need to return to Washington D.C.
15. Which was the last country you visited?
Italy. (Should that be Eat-aly?) I spent five days munching my way round Rome, Florence and Bologna last month. Stay tuned for more on that trip!
16. What is your favourite place that you have been to?
Hong Kong. For a tiny place, it has so much variety – in landscapes, food and architecture.
17. Favourite place in your home country?
I’ll always have a soft spot for Chester (where I grew up) and Leeds (where I studied). Sorry, that’s two places.
18. You’re in an airport and you can board a plane to any destination. Which part of the world would you choose?
Alsace. I spent my year abroad in Colmar and (regrettably) haven’t been back since. Colmar and Strasbourg are absolutely magical at this time of the year.
19. What’s your cup of tea: tropical island getaway, snowy ski break or city break?
Of these, a city break. I’m terrified of skiing, and a beach-based island holiday isn’t really my thing.
20. What are your top three hand-luggage must-haves?
A notepad and pen (to jot down everything I get up to on the road) and a reusable water bottle to fill up airside.
21. Which three things would you take on holiday if you could?
I’d take my pillow (a sub-par pillow is a recipe for a poor night’s sleep), Scrabble (ideal for a rainy evening) and a pint of milk (for a morning cuppa – powdered milk and UHT just aren’t the same).
22. Any travel tips to share?
Take advantage of any discounts going, especially for attractions and rail travel. In the UK, many train companies offer ‘Group Save’ fares for groups of three or more people travelling together; in Europe there are often reduced fares for under 26s. Make the most of your EU citizenship before the dreaded B-word comes into effect: if you’re under 26, you can save a bomb on attractions in cities like Paris and Rome.
23. What is your most pleasant trip memory?
Seeing ibex on the Tour du Mont Blanc was pretty darn special. I’m not going to forget that birthday any time soon.
24. What is your most unpleasant trip memory?
I still remember when a guy bumped into Laurence on a busy street off Times Square, and wanted to pick a fight. Luckily, a local stepped in and defused the situation (dropping her milkshake in the process… I felt pretty bad about that).
25. Most surreal travel moment?
Seeing Le Palais Idéal – an extraordinary creation built by an ordinary postman – in the flesh. It’s really quite something.
26. Most embarrassing moment?
I’m pretty much teetotal, so I don’t have any booze-fuelled embarrassing moments. I’ve botched the pronunciation of a few places (Yosemite and Kyoto) on my travels, but that’s not too embarrassing.
27. Biggest disappointment?
Martigues. Perhaps the clue was in its nickname, ‘The Venice of Provence’. I knew it wasn’t going to be like Venice (not that I’ve ever been there . . .) but a single canal hardly justifies a comparison to a city built on over a hundred islands.
28. Nicest surprise?
I didn’t expect to like Rome as much as I did. Tasty grub (gelato and wood-fired pizzas spring to mind) and mind-blowing archaeological sites are a winning combo.
29. Favourite food discovery during a trip?
Sweet: ice cream sandwiches in Singapore, in particular the mango flavour with rainbow bread. Savoury: trapizzino (pizza pockets) in Rome.
30. Why do you travel?
For lots of different reasons: to discover new places and cultures; to ‘switch off’ and unwind; to break out of my everyday routines.
31. Have you picked up any phrases from travelling?
Beyond hello, goodbye, please and thank you, I don’t tend to pick up much of the local lingo on my travels.
32. Your dream travel companion?
I much prefer to travel with friends and family who, like me, like exploring on foot, spending time outdoors and holing up in a café for a wedge of cake.
33. Favourite city or country?
- City: Hong Kong.
- Country: France.
34. Best item purchased abroad?
When it comes to souvenirs, I tend to stick to postcards and sweet treats. If I had to single out one item, I’d say the blue-and-white patterned plate I picked up at a street market in Kyoto is my favourite souvenir.
35. Advice for those who want to travel but think they can’t?
Start small – and pick up any free magazines or newspapers (like Cambridge Edition in – surprise – Cambridge and Time Out in London) for the lowdown on local events. I’ve been in Cambridge for just over two years and still have lots of spots on my local bucket list.
36. Travel accessory you always pack?
Flip flops are essential for any trips involving a shared bathroom, and ideal for pottering round campsites after a long day’s walking.
37. Your most treasured passport stamp?
Canada, as it was my first.
38. Can you recite your passport number from memory?
39. Preferred mode of travel: planes, trains or cars?
I’m a big fan of double-decker trains (for better views) and sleeper trains (for longer journeys). If I can avoid the hassle of airports, I will – though if I’m going beyond the UK’s borders, that’s usually the quickest way to get from A to B.
40. Hostel, hotel or Airbnb?
Depends on the trip, in all honesty. I’ll usually go for a hostel or budget hotel, as it gives more flexibility on check-in/-out times.
41. Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places?
There are a fair number of places I’d happily return to time and again (like Leeds, the Yorkshire Dales and Hong Kong), but I like a mix of repeat visits and new places.
42. Do you read up on your destination (culture, history, safety) or wing it?
I always do some pre-trip research: mostly on food and landmarks, but also on getting to and from airports/train stations.
43. Favourite travel website?
I’ll often bookmark fellow bloggers’ posts for future reference. At the moment, I’m particularly enjoying reading John’s series of posts on the Trans-Siberian and following Clazz’s road trip on the NC 500. Rhiannon from Wales to Wherever, LC from Birdgehls, Rebecca from Rebecca Goes Rendezvous and Diana from Handstands Around the World never fail to serve up a solid dose of travel inspiration!
44. Where would you recommend a friend visit?
Lyon. Whether you’re a culture vulture, outdoor enthusiast or mega-foodie, there’s something for you in France’s gastronomic capital (and the surrounding area).
45. To which destination did you first take a plane?
I don’t know off the top of my head, but I’d wager Jersey or Guernsey.
46. Suitcase or backpack*?
*That’s a rucksack on this side of the pond. I’d choose a rucksack every time; suitcases are a pain to manoeuvre and nothing screams ‘tourist’ more than a wheelie suitcase.
47. Is there something you do on every trip?
Like Rebecca, I always scout out an aerial view. More often than not, it involves climbing lots of steps!
48. When travelling do you talk to locals easily?
I’d say that depends on whether we share a language.
49. Do you feel like you’re different when travelling?
I’m not all that different, but I’m definitely in a better headspace when I’m out on the trails and away from my usual routines.
50. What is the greatest travel dream you would like to accomplish before hitting your next big life milestone?
I’d like to complete Corsica’s GR20, and explore a little more of Eastern Europe before I hit the big 3-0.
Rather than nominating anyone in particular, I’m going to throw this tag open to anyone who fancies a trip down memory lane.