My passion for all things foreign stemmed from an early age pouring over the much-loved pages of the home Atlas. National Geographic magazines were piled in stacks around my room and my father’s obsession with European history (especially Scandinavian) was infectious. As soon as I turned 18 I was out the door, out of the country and off to Paris where I lived in a little apartment and worked in a café while studying French. This experience profoundly changed my life in a myriad of ways, and now 2 decades and many countries later I get to help others with their journeys. I take great satisfaction when I see my clients have gotten what they were looking for from their holiday.
Favourite destination: It’s a close tie between India and Italy. India, with all the colours and chaos, incredible food and warmth of the people is still so vibrant in my mind years later, and every time I send clients off on their own journey there I wonder if I can sneak into their suitcase…and then Italy, passionate people, majestic countrysides and cobblestone streets. Go for a stroll, turn a corner and find yourself face to face with a building or site straight out of a movie. Italy is my favourite country to find a little outside pub or bar, order a local wine and lunch and watch the people and the world go by.
Destination I am dreaming about right now: South America, specifically Argentina and Buenos Aires. The “Europe of South America” with a very strong cafe culture, colonial architecture, Latin flavours like the tango, and wide avenues reminiscent of the Champs Elysee. It is also a great gateway for Iguazu Falls, Patagonia and the Antarctic. I’d happily spend a month there living like a local before a cruise to the Antarctic.
A close second would be a Botswana Safari in Africa before a self drive in Namibia.
A FEW OF MY FAVOURITE PERSONAL JOURNEY'S
TAIWAN, VIETNAM AND CAMBODIA
My first foray into Southeast Asia was a wonderful eye opening experience for me. Starting in Taipei, Taiwan I travelled with a group for a quick whirlwind journey, taking in the Taiwan and Chinese culture (there are differences from mainland China!), before flying off to Vietnam.
Hanoi, Halong Bay, and Ho Chi Minh went by in a flash as our group explored the history and natural sites of this lovely country.
Before long the group tour was over, and I took to local transport with a friend as we made our way through Cambodia. The Khmer Rouge regime’s atrocities were a real awakening, and the majesty of Angkor Wat and her sister temples still gives me goosebumps to this day.
Lastly we were back to Vietnam to relax in Hoi An before enjoying a motorcycle journey through the highlands around Delat.
In 2016 my best mate and I bought a Tuktuk (Auto Rickshaw) and travelled over 2400km from New Delhi to Ahmedabad in India. Along the way we had vehicle support from Total Holiday Options, and they really helped bring this dream trip to life.
It was an extraordinary journey, with visits to a lot of the must do’s like the Taj Mahal, Amber Fort, and the lake District of Udaipur. We also spent a lot of time off the beaten track in small local villages and hidden gems.
Looking back, the three memories that are the most vivid even now are:
1) sitting in a village elder’s home in Rajastan, being served home made chai and learning about their lives
2) sitting in the back of the tuktuk, cruising along at the “hectic” speed of 60km/h with the tunes blasting, wind blowing, and taking in the sights along the way
3) sitting in the common room of the Best Marigold Hotel, local beer in hand, watching the Best Marigold hotel movies.
It is not an understatement when I say it was the adventure of a lifetime and set the bar really high for me going forward.
India…I shall return!
A Globus tour through Italy seemed like the right way to maximize the short time I had in this brilliant country… and it really was.
Landing in Rome we were collected from the airport and taken to our hotel which was a few short blocks from the Vatican City.
Bright and early the next morning we had VIP entry into the Vatican City and Sistine Chapel, and later that day the same privileged access to the Colosseum. After one look at the queue for general access I can’t see any way we would have weathered the wait for both of those in one day. VIP access is a must!
From there we were off to Lucca, Florence, Pisa, and the Cinque Terra before making our way to famed Venice.
Now Venice is a city where location matters…what a maze. Tip: Get a hotel near a major tourist attraction because the signs indicating the way to that attraction are very clear. My hotel was right by St Marks Square, so even after a big day out I didn’t have to think too hard to make my way back. Do be aware that Venice is a day time city and pretty much goes to sleep at night, so if you want a night out save it for your next city destination.