Since any travel is off the agenda for the foreseable future, I thought I might live a bit vicariously with this Travel Tag which was doing the rounds late last year. Who doesn’t love an excuse to reflect on trips past? I’ve not done this particular tag before and I’ve consequently enjoyed both mulling over my responses and checking through my photos. A big shout out to whichever blogger suggested I do this.
I hope you’re sitting comfortably, this is another massive post!
1. How many countries have you visited?
36: Andora; Antigua; Austria; Australia; Barbados; Belgium; Canada; China (Hong Kong and Macau); Czech Republic; Denmark; France (incl. Corsica); Finland; Germany; Greece; Hungary; Italy (incl. Sardinia and Sicily); Japan; Lichtenstein; Luxembourg; Malta; Monaco; Norway; Poland; Portugal; Republic of Ireland; Singapore; Slovenia; Spain; St Kitts & Nevis; Sweden; Switzerland; The Netherlands; UAE; UK; USA; Vatican City.
My beloved’s been to a further 20 countries (mainly on business): Argentina; Bermuda; Brazil; Bulgaria; Croatia; Egypt; Grand Cayman; Israel; Korea; Lithuania; Malaysia; Mexico; New Zealand; Romania; Russia; Serbia; Slovakia; South Africa; Thailand; Turkey.
2. Which destination is number one on your bucket list?
I want to visit Japan in the autumn, my last visit in was during Sakura (cherry blossom) and I’d like to see much more of the country. I do feel that another visit of 3-4 weeks minimum is required.
3. Three other places at the top of your bucket list?
My bucket list is quite modest and features a number of places I’d like to revisit. Also, since compiling the list I’ve been to Mallorca, The Hamptons (again) and Hungary. Top of my list should be places I’ve yet to visit.
4. What does the ideal holiday look like for you?
Outdoors-y, with plenty to see and do. We like cycling around the countryside, meandering beside the sea/lake/river and walking around urban areas, visiting art galleries, museums and restaurants. I think that’s why we adore places like Bilbao, San Sebastian, Saint Jean de Luz and Gijon.
5. Favourite picture you’ve taken during a trip?
That’s pretty easy. It’s a recent one from our last trip to Australia featuring a very touristy site: Heart Island on the Great Barrier Reef.
6. Have you had to travel for work? If so, where?
I’ve travelled extensively for work but the issue is that you don’t have time to sightsee. For example, I don’t think I saw anything of New York, other than the airport and hotel, until my sixth or seventh trip. Where I undertook longer work trips in Europe (3-4 weeks), I made a point of travelling and sightseeing at the weekends, rather than returning home.
7. With whom would you like to go on holiday sometime?
8. Who or what would you take with you to an uninhabited island?
Obviously I’d take my beloved but I’m not sure how much use he’d be? Though he does make great cocktails. My answer should probably be Bear Grylls – to maximise my chances of survival.
9. Would you rather go to a theme park or a zoo?
Actually, I not awfully keen on either unless the latter specialises in conservation.
10. Mountains or sea?
While I love both my favourite is the sea.
11. Which countries will you visit this year?
For very obvious reasons, I’ll be staying on home soil (France) this year and maybe venturing into other European countries later next year (by car).
12. Where would you never visit?
There are lots of countries that hold little appeal because of their oppressive regimes or climatic conditions.
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 people, the cuisine, the culture, particularly its fusion of old and new, and I loved how everything just worked.
14. A place you’ve been to that you would not go back to, and why?
There are quite a few small countries where I’ve been there, done it and got the t-shirt. I don’t need to go back.
15. Which was the last country you visited?
I was about to say Dubai for our annual trip combining my beloved’s attendance at an exhibition with a few days enjoying the sunshine but then I realised it would’ve been Monaco, the weekend before lockdown.
16. What is your favourite place that you have been to?
This is really difficult. I’ve been to so many fascinating places that it’s really hard to choose just one. But, if you insist, I’d choose Paris.
17. Favourite place in your home country?
Although I grew up in the UK, I now regard France as my home country and one of my favourite places (aside from Paris) is the south-west, specifically the French Basque Country.
18. You’re in an airport and you can board a plane to any destination. Which part of the world would you choose?
I’d probably check where the MotorGP races were taking place that weekend and hop on a plane to go and watch.
19. What’s your cup of tea: tropical island getaway, snowy ski break or city break?
Okay, I’m going to choose a city break at a seaside resort, probably San Sebastian. While I love cross-country skiing, I’m not really into tropical islands. The last one we visited was Nevis, many years ago and, while it was memorable, I’ve not sought to repeat the experience.
20. What are your top three hand-luggage must-haves?
My iPad to take photos and on which I make notes of what we’ve been doing, my black cashmere shawl and vegan snacks.
21. Which three things would you take on holiday if you could?
My bike, my helmet and my cycling kit.
22. Any travel tips to share?
Planning and preparation are the keys to success in most things and travelling is no exception. Do your research thoroughly before-hand.
23. What is your most pleasant trip memory?
Riding a mountain bike in the Blue Mountains with kangaroos hopping beside us.
24. What is your most unpleasant trip memory?
Flying back from a vacation in Spain (with my sister and mother) where I arrived back in the early hours of the morning to find my beloved wasn’t waiting for me as arranged. He had been advised that the charter flight had been grossly delayed and diverted to another airport. This was early in our marriage and well before the advent of mobiles.
25. Most surreal travel moment?
Getting upgraded to first-class on an Emirates flight from Dubai to Melbourne in January 2016.
26. Most embarrassing moment?
This was probably in the 80s when I drank way too much Sangria and almost fell into the swimming pool as I wove my way back to the apartment. The room was still spinning round the following morning and I’ve never, ever touched the stuff again.
27. Biggest disappointment?
Carcassonne. It looks rather magical when you drive past it on the motorway, particularly if the castle is shrouded in mist. But it’s allure is illusory.
28. Nicest surprise?
29. Favourite food discovery during a trip?
30. Why do you travel?
For personal enrichment.
31. Have you picked up any phrases from travelling?
I always try to pick up a few basic phrases which I’ll try out.
32. Your dream travel companion?
My beloved is my dream travel companion but, if he’s not available, I much prefer to travel on my own. That way, I can do what I want, when I want.
33. Favourite city or country?
34. Best item purchased abroad?
When I first started travelling extensively, particularly on business, I used to purchase frogs from different locations but the collection is now very large, so I’ve stopped.
35. Advice for those who want to travel but think they can’t?
Get to know your own surroundings well and those of immediate neighbouring areas before venturing further afield. Start small and always do your research.
36. Travel accessory you always pack?
My black rubber Birkenstocks.
37. Your most treasured passport stamp?
It was probably Hong Kong, my first long-haul destination.
38. Can you recite your passport number from memory?
39. Preferred mode of travel: planes, trains or cars?
I love being driven that way I get to enjoy the countryside in full. I enjoy train travel in Europe and, for long haul, am a big fan of the Middle Eastern airlines.
40. Hostel, hotel or Airbnb?
It depends on how long we’re staying somewhere. If it’s just a few days, I’ll prefer a hotel but if it’s a couple of weeks I like the flexibility of apartment hotels or rental apartments. My days of staying in a hostel are long behind me and I have never stayed in an Airbnb.
41. Are you a repeat visitor or do you explore new places?
There are a fair number of places I’ve happily returned to time and time again but I prefer 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 plenty of pre-trip research it’s one of the best bits of the trip though I do like to leave some room for spontoneity.
43. Favourite travel website?
I don’t really have one as it depends on where we’re thinking of visiting. I’ll often check fellow bloggers’ posts for information, plus the areas’ tourist websites, Booking.com, Conde Nast Traveller and so on.
44. Where would you recommend a friend visit?
I’m a bit biased here as I’d always recommend someone visits the Cote d’Azur. Indeed, I get lots of requests for information and suggested itineraries which I’m always very happy to put together for friends, and friends of friends.
45. To which destination did you first take a plane?
It was Guernsey way back in 1964.
46. Suitcase or rucksack (backpack)?
Again, it depends on the length of the trip. If it’s a long one, I tend to do both. A small rucksack as hand luggage plus a large four-wheeled suitcase means I have at least one hand free.
47. Is there something you do on every trip?
No, not really.
48. When travelling do you talk to locals easily?
That depends on whether we share a language or not, but I’m always happy to chat if we do.
49. Do you feel like you’re different when travelling?
No, not at all.
50. What is the greatest travel dream you would like to accomplish before hitting your next big life milestone?
When you get to my age, many of those milestones have already been achieved. I guess I’d just like to be able to keep travelling for as long as possible.
Firstly, thanks to whichever kind soul suggested I do this tag and secondly, rather than nominating anyone in particular, I’m going to throw this tag open to anyone who fancies a trip down memory lane or a spot of virtual travel.Please just go for it!