Prior to planning our epic adventure, we’ve made it our mission to travel to as many amazing places as possible. These were mostly touring / adventure style holidays and city breaks, so pretty different from travelling independently around the world, but hey at least we’ve had some practice!
The countries we’ve ticked off the list to date are….
- Spain (Majorca, Barcelona)
- France (Paris)
- The Netherlands
- Italy (Florence, Rome, Pisa, Venice)
- South Africa
- Sri Lanka
Trying to get Rob to make a nice interactive map so we can mark off everywhere we’ve visited, but for now this list will have to do.
Which countries did we like best? Our top 5 in no particular order have to be…:
Cambodia was incredible… absolutely breathtaking and every single day of our 12 day tour was just amazing. We fell in love with South East Asia after this trip, returning to Thailand just 4 months later, and making sure to add Vietnam and Laos onto our RTW itinerary.
Before we went, we watched a few films and read up on Cambodia’s tragic recent past – I couldn’t believe that only in the last 50 years they had been witness to such atrocious crimes under the rule of Pol Pot. and the Khmer Rouge. It’s estimated that up to 3 million people died, with many killed in prison camps or worked to death, and visiting the Killing Fields and notorious S-21 prison was a heart breaking experience.
Yet in spite of all the tragedy they have witnessed, we found Cambodia to be the most welcoming and friendly country we have ever visited. Everyone we met was so keen to talk to us, to share their stories of their country and to hear our experiences – we’ve never felt so at home while abroad and would go back in a heartbeat. As well as taking in the history of the country, we also saw stunning beaches in Sihanoukville and Koh Rong Sanloen, and spent several days in Siem Reap where we took in the amazing Angkor Wat.
I’m thinking a full post on this might be needed – we did a tour with Indo China tours and would definitely recommend them to anyone looking to explore SE Asia.
Despite our love for more exotic locations, and a mild feeling that European destinations as Brit are perhaps a little, well, boring maybe in comparison with Asia and Africa, I can’t help but feel that Italy might actually be my spiritual home. After visiting Rome with my Mum for my 18th birthday (BEST PRESENT EVER!) I knew I had to see more of the place. So Rob and I took off on a 12 day train tour from Rome up to Venice via Pompei and Florence in Sept ‘14. We loved it so much we went back to Florence in June ‘16 for a short break in our favourite city.
What’s not to love about Italy – incredible landscapes and history, amazing food, hot weather and the most laid back atmosphere. When we win the lottery, it’ll be the first place we buy a home abroad!
This was our first trip off the beaten track, travelling long haul and trying out an adventure tour. We’d saved for ages, with no real goal, and decided after Christmas to splash out on a holiday that was something a bit different. Heading to our local travel agents, we didn’t have any destinations in mind, apart from knowing that we wanted something exotic that combined sight-seeing and culture with a few days on the beach – something that’s been a theme of all our holidays since then!
We ended up booking Sri Lanka on a whim – a two week tour taking in the tea plantations and Nuwara Eliya, the cultural capital of Kandy, the elephant orphanage and safaris, before spending a few days on the beach on the South West coast. It was an amazing two weeks, and we left feeling like we would never take a normal all inclusive beach holiday again!
We’ve actually been to Egypt twice – once for a week all inclusive in Sharm El Sheikh when we were suffering a major case of burn out and needed to take some time out, and once for a Nile Cruise followed by a couple of days in Cairo. We went on the latter at my Mum’s suggestion with her and my sister as she’d found a great deal, and had no real expectations.
We were blown away by the sights – seeing everything from the Valley of the Kings, Luxor and Karnak temples, as well as exploring the Egyptian museum and of course the pyramids, having never realised you could actually explore inside the great pyramid itself! Best of all, although sad for the locals, due to tourism taking such a hit, most of the major destinations were more or less empty. It’s such an incredible country, I can only hope they manage to sort out their difficulties soon, and I’d recommend anyone to take it in as part of their travelling, it truly is unlike anywhere else I’ve been.
This was another trip that was a bit more chilled – a family holiday in a luxury villa on Koh Samui for my Mum’s 60th – we’re a super close family, and to spend a couple of weeks in paradise with Rob, as well as my family was just perfect. We topped off the trip with a few days exploring Bangkok, a city I was fully prepared to hate, but completely fell in love with!
One of the highlights of Thailand was one of my worst travel experiences to date weirdly – and my first time hitchhiking! Again, perhaps a dedicated post is needed, but as history geeks, we decided to take a day out to see the Bridge over the River Kwai. What should’ve been a simple 2 hour bus trip out of town turned into a 6 hour journey in 40 degree heat and almost 100% humidity on 3 buses, a tuk tuk, a taxi and a cross country hitchhike with a lovely Thai couple after we were mistakenly sold bus tickets to a mystery waterfall we had no intention of visiting! Not only that…. We were all dosed up on immodium having had a dodgy curry the night before… an interesting journey to say the least!
We’ve been so lucky to have all these travel experiences together in the 7 years we’ve been together, and can’t wait for so many more on this trip! We’re actually visiting more countries on our 8 month epic adventure than we’ve visited between us altogether, so whatever happens, it’s going to be a blast!