Tag Archives: visit

The 10 Places I loved visiting (and would love to go back to!)

Carrying on from Sunday’s blog post, here are ten places in the world that I truly loved visiting and, in a heartbeat, would run back to if money, time and common sense were chucked out of the window. I have only been to 35 countries but I have seen a fair few sights which really should be shared with the rest of you. So without a do, here are my top ten places that I have visited and would definitely visit again in a heartbeat:

10) Seychelles.

I know I have a bias towards the Seychelles as it is my mother’s country, but I have to be blunt. I really do love this country. I also love Sri Lanka, my father’s country, but due to its security situation, I really do not want to go back there for pleasure. You see, Seychelles attracts me, not just for family, but for the islands themselves. There are over 100 islands in the archipelago, and I have only seen four of them. And it is not just beaches. Great wildlife, a steamy hot and mountainous interior and wonderful old colonial architecture give the islands one hell of a lot of variety for such a small place. Plus, the culture, a polyglot of the islanders’ ancestery means that this is a fascinating place to see and meet people. Yes, the Seychelles are expensive, they are a pain to get to but it truly is one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

(Last visited 2008)

9) San Francisco.

I love America, and I jump at the opportunity to travel there. The country is so vast, and is naturally blessed with some of the most spectacular landscapes in the world. America’s cities are also some of the best that humanity has ever built. New York, Philadelphia and Boston are wonderful places that were launched on the backs of their old colonial past. But for me, San Francisco is the place to get to. A wonderful city in probably one of the most naturally beautiful places on Earth. And it is not too big or small, San Francisco is just that right size where you can explore and relax in equal amounts. A city steeped in history but also at the forefront of modern technology, this really is one of the happiest places on Earth.

(Last visited 1994)

8) Mexico.

All right, I know this is a big one, but Mexico is one hell of a country, and I have to return here one day. From the magnificent ruins of Chichen Itza, to the wonderful beauty is Chiapas and the frenetic capital of Mexico City itself – which I have to point out as one of the best cities I have ever visited!

I saw a hell of a lot of this country, but a visit back is a must for me. I loved my time here, and would happily go back and this time see the north of Mexico as well has head to the coasts for a bit of R&R.

(Last visited 2002)

7) Budapest.

One of three European cities on my list – and surprising, as I have only really begun to explore Europe in the past two years. But Budapest is truly beautiful. Split by the Danube you have the flat and fun Pest on one side of the river and the hilly, snooty but really beautiful Buda on the other bank. One thing, the Danube really shapes this city and its history. I am probably biased to this city, and I have a lot of fond memories of the place, which is also why I do want to hedd back here. But genuinely, memories are not the only thing. Budapest has tons of stuff to see, and has awoken from its communist stupor with vigour. Check it out when you have the chance, you will not regret it! I will certainly be heading back there.

(Last visited 2011)

6) Meghalaya.

The wettest place on Earth may seem like a strange place to recommend, but Meghalaya is truly a cultural gem of this world. Its unique hilltop location on a ridge overlooking the Gangetic plain both isolates and links it to the surrounding country in one fell swoop. Three unique cultures dot the state, and its pristine environment truly makes this one of India’s great surprises. I have never felt do relaxed and refreshed in my life as I have in Meghalaya. Whether it is the excess amounts of water, the wholesome food or the really cool locals, Meghalaya is a place I could visit time and time again.

(Last visited 2009)

5) Yunnan.

One of China’s true gems, Yunnan has it all. Great food, spectacular countryside and a culture that intertwines South East Asia, Mainland China and Tibet all rolled into one easily accessible destination – no small feat for a country as difficult as China. From the border with Burma to the fringes of the Tibetan Plateau there is something for everyone. Dotted with the famed backpacker hangouts of Dali and Lijiang, it is easy to be an independent traveler or to mosey in and relax with the crowd. It is definitely a part of China that I would not hesitate to visit again!

(Last visited 2001)

4) Krakow.

Wow, wow, and wow would be the best three adjectives to describe Krakow.

I know, it is surprising to include this city here, but really, my Poland bias aside, I really have to recommend Krakow and it is a city I would run back to in a heartbeat. To simply put it, there is A LOT to do in Krakow, and Poland’s piss-poor marketing skills means that it is a destination that flies far beneath the radar. Without the crowds you get in other European hotspots (unless it is a stag-do summer), you can feel a little like a pioneer coming here with all the ease of mainstream European travel. There is so much to recommend about Krakow, go on, treat yourself, and take some time out over here.

(Last visited 2011)

3) Xinjiang.

China’s biggest province is arguably it emptiest as well. Yes, there are a hell of a lot of tensions over here, with a separatist movement that is far more bloody than Tibet’s. And it is hard work to travel across here. But it is a culturally fascinating area. Plus it is a desert, now that counts as a huge amount of kudos for me. I have spent an inordinate amount of time here. It really was the first place that I experienced ‘independent’ travel, far cut-off from family, friends and anyone else, having to survive on my own with my interactions meaning the difference between food or nothing. I also crossed this vast area by foot (took me two months and lost a third of my body weight) which drove me slightly nutty.

Xinjiang is definitely a place with strong emotional ties, but I can also safely say that this is a part of the world that has a hell of a lot to give to the outside visitor. And despite beinfg in China, it is ironically the easiest part of Central Asia to visit, and that is a spectacular region of the world to taste…

(Last visited 2003)

2) Berlin.

Surprised? Well, you really shouldn’t be. Berlin has it all. An all encompassing history, easily accessible tourist spots, all at a reasonable price. Whether you are looking for cool bars, great food or simple fun, Berlin has something for everyone. London and Paris may get all the glitz and glamour. Barcelona and Milan get all the cool kids. But Berlin itself is simply magnificent. There is far too much to see and do that can be simply described in a short paragraph. There is so much I have left to see. I will be back here, and probably sooner rather than later.

(Last visited 2012)

1) Assam.

There really is not an order to this list, and while Assam currently takes the number 1 spot, I would go back to any of these destinations if I had instant access to cash. But the reason I value Assam so highly is multiple. Firstly, it was my first destination in India, and so I will always have an emotional attachment here. Secondly, it is so big, and so the variety is there. Thirdly, it is undiscovered; despite its huge size and obvious attractions, foreign tourists are few and far between, partly as it is so cut off.

But Assam is truly a stellar destination. It is easy to get round, once you get there! It is also really friendly, with a shockingly competent Tourist Office that will go out of its way to give you information. With a wide variation in Geography from lowland plains to mountainous, I just did not have the time to see all there was. There is a magnificent history, one of Asia’s great civilisations nestled here in the fields. Lush forests and wildlife that will make your jaw drop (I saw my first Rhino here!)

I will go back to India again, and while there is so much of the country I have not seen, I will have to make a beeline for Assam.

(Last visited 2009)

So that is my top ten of places I have seen, and ideally, would love to go to again. Any comments, drop them in the box below. And have you been to any of these places? Agree with me and what would be your top ten?



Filed under fun, places, travel

De ja vous Poland – Back in Wroclaw 1

(Yes. I am convinced that ice cream is a good thing at -5C. And for those with rudimentary Polish, Lody does have two meanings in that language.)

I have just returned from an excellent trip to Wroclaw. I was there last weekend, and despite the cold weather, it was good to be back in one of my favourite places in all of Poland. Home to cute bronze gnomes, cute trams and cute hotel receptionists, this is far more than just a cute little city. It is to be the European Capital of Culture in 2016, and it has a long history of over one thousand years. Oh, you want me to tell it…okay.

Founded by the Czechs (1000 AD is the founding of the diocese), before being taken over by the Germanic Luxembourg Dynasty in 1335. Wroclaw kept on growing under the rule of the (Austrian) Habsburg’s in 1526. Unfortunately this was at a time when the whole Reformation shindigs was happening and it was not until Frederick V of Rhine decided to challenge this. However, the leader of Palatine of the Rhine Defeated by the Austrians, the city lay in a kind of limbo. Ruled by Catholics, but strongly Protestant, the Dresden Accord was signed which spared Wroclaw and Silesia from the worse of the Christian turmoil spreading through Europe during the 17th Century.

But the invasions were not to end there. The genius King of Prussia, Frederick II (or The Great)decided that he wanted a piece of Silesia and Wroclaw was the prize he scalped from the Austrians. Until Napoleon, the city was rather pleasant and thrived. And then the French arrived before going back to Prussia.

Then you had the last one hundred years. During World War I, Wroclaw, or Breslau as it was known was a patriotic German city. And after Germany’s defeat, it recovered well. And then World War II arrived. To be blunt, this was a nasty time in the city’s history. The first concentration camps were built here, and the city’s population of Jews and Polish (around 7% at the start of the 20th Century) was decimated. It also was one of the fiercest theaters of the Eastern Front that left the city in ruins.

After WWII it became a part of Poland, and what was left of the indigenous population was shipped off to what was fast becoming East and West Germany. In their place, many Polish refugees from what is today Belarus and Ukraine arrived and made the city their home.

Count the number of times the city changed hands. Nine times (not including the Russian invasion at the end of WWII). There is probably no other city, nay region in the whole of Europe that has been so hotly contested in the past 1000 years. As a result, the city was a melting pot or trade and people until the brutality of the Second World War put a stop to that. Today it is a thriving Polish City and thanks to the EU it is fast becoming a bit of a hot spot for visitors from around the continent with a steady supply of tourists flying in on budget airlines for weekends or more of fun. And those cheap flights to Stansted and Luton. Yeah, that’s why I was there…again…

(The Rynek or Market Place of Wroclaw. Yes, it is cute! And for some reason, the Polish Christmas lasts until the end of January…makes the British penchant for shopping look tame…)

I must admit after the rush at Christmas, it was fantastic to be on the road again, even if it was for a few days. After all the hustle, hassle and bustle of the past year, it felt good to take some time out, to be happy, not have to please anyone. Just me enjoying myself in one of Poland’s most picturesque towns…

(Rebuilding work around Wroclaw’s main railway station. Not so picturesque. Yet.)

Well, Euro 2012 is coming, and this is going to be one of those destination points as the Group stages will be played here. If you care about football. I do not.

In reality, I just love the city. So much so, that I will be here again…next month…what is it about Poland that keeps dragging me back here? Maybe I should broaden my horizons. Ahem…


Filed under europe, places, poland, travel