My top five destinations to return to
If you had to choose five past destinations to go back to, which would they be? Although I’m always looking forward to the next place I would like to visit – and have a travel wish-list which only ever seems to get longer and longer – there are a few previous destinations that really captured my heart. When you’ve got a limit on the time and money you have available to travel, it can hard to justify returning to the same place again, but sometimes going back lets you dig deeper into a destination, or just gives you a second chance if a trip didn’t work out quite as planned. I wrote a bit about this in a post about my travel loves, old and new, but it’s also the premise of a new competition. I was nominated to share my choices by Travel with Kat and Flights, Camera, Satisfaction, and narrowing my list of favourites down to just five was almost impossible. I’m sure that if you asked me the same question tomorrow I’d probably choose a completely different selection of places. But my choices right now would be (in vaguely chronological order)…
If there’s a question about travel New York is normally the answer – my first long-haul flight, my first trip out of Europe, the place I first fell in love with travel. Aged 18 I flew out for a week that changed my life. Coming from a small English town, New York was so different from anything I’d ever experienced – the towering skyscrapers, the accents, the sheer number of people. But on the other hand the famous landmarks, the yellow cabs, the steam rising from subway grilles – it was all so familiar from films and TV shows. For me New York had the perfect mix of the familiar and the exotic, and it still does. Since that first trip I’ve been back four more times and every trip I’ve discovered new places to visit, new neighbourhoods to explore and new stories to tell. And even if I went back every year I’m sure I’d never run out.
Méribel-Mottaret, French Alps
After 25 years as a ski skeptic, Méribel-Mottaret in the French Alps was where I was finally convinced to give it a try. And I couldn’t think of a better place to do it. At the heart of the Three Valleys ski area above bigger neighbour Méribel, the village has the classic wooden chalets strung with fairy lights and pine forests sprinkled with snow, all with a background of towering peaks. By the end of the week I had a decent parallel turn, an obsession with vin chaud and a new love of the Alps in winter. I’ve flirted with other ski resorts since then – Zermatt, Morzine, I even tried a long-term relationship with St Jean d’Aulps – but Mottaret keeps drawing me back. It has familiar slopes to ease me back into skiing, my favourite restaurants with a view, but also has access out into the Three Valleys so there’s always somewhere new to ski.
I could easily put the whole country of Italy on my list of places to return to – something about the combination of amazing food and wine, diverse scenery and a fascinating history that brings me back again and again. But that would be making it a bit too easy, so if I have to choose one place it would be Sorrento. One of my favourite trips of the last few years, it was a small-scale version of all the things I love about Italy – visiting world-class ruins at Pompeii, mixing with the beautiful people on Capri, drinking prosecco on a terrace overlooking the sea and eating fresh seafood and gelato on the beach. I’ve been desperate to go back since and in October I’ll be staying just down the road in the Amalfi Coast so get to revisit a few favourite spots as well as checking out another gorgeous patch of Italian coastline.
Lulworth Cove, Dorset
Not all of the destinations I’d return to are in exotic foreign countries, some are a bit closer to home, like Lulworth Cove in Dorset on the south coast of England. This lovely horseshoe-shaped bay has been the site for some of my best family holidays. Not so much when we were young but more in the last few years, when our extended family have hired a big house and descended from across the country for a week of catching up, coastal walks and country pubs. Although we have tried out a few other destinations – from Portugal last year to Northumberland this year – Dorset and Lulworth Cove in particular has always been a favourite. Hopefully it’s a tradition we’ll continue for years to come, and get to introduce a new generation to this part of the world when my brother and his girlfriend have their first baby later this year!
Although most of these destinations I’ve spent a few days in, I only had a few hours in Santorini on my Mediterranean cruise earlier this year, but it was long enough to know I have to go back. The white buildings and blue-domed churches, with the dramatic backdrop of the caldera with its volcanic islands rising from a deep blue sea – it was like walking into a brochure for the Greek Tourist Board. I’d wanted to visit for years and sometimes expectations can be hard to live up to, but Santorini delivered, even though we only scratched the surface with a day in the town of Fira. Despite being hot and packed, it was inescapably beautiful. But there are also the ancient ruins at Akrotiri, the perfect sunset spot at Oia, the black sand beaches at Perissa and not to forget the island’s wineries. I’m already looking out for flights for next year.
So those are my choices – narrowly beating other favourites like Paris, Ubud in Bali, and Sedona in the USA. But what would your choices be? Let me know in the comments below, or find out more about the Booked.net – Top Destinations to Go There competition.