Locations to inspire your desire to travel in this new decade
So, here we are, a new exciting decade has arrived, and you have a holiday calendar waiting to be jam-packed with some incredible destinations.
A family on the water in Tortuguero, Costa Rica
Gary and I know how treasured your annual leave is every year, and you certainly don’t want to waste a day. Therefore, squeezing in a mini-break here and there is one way to stretch those days further. Although for those of you that love the open highway, then a 2-week road trip may be on the cards.
Together Gary and I have visited some magnificent places over recent years and would love to give you an inspiration for your travels in 2020.
The Hemisfèric in the City of Arts and Sciences in the centre of Valencia, Spain
We’ve shortlisted 14 favourites, some near, some far, and a mixture of road trips and mini-breaks. Do let us know if they are on your wish list?
We’ve visited the Alsace region of France on several occasions. It’s a beautiful part of France and overflowing with incredible food and drink.
The canals of Colmar
I love the German influences that can be seen throughout many towns and villages. The colourful half-timbered homes were just brimming with vibrant flowers, tumbling down from the window boxes.
We embarked on a road trip through the region, weaving our way around the patchwork of terraced vineyards, it was a truly pleasurable way to experience Alsace.
A Pinot Noir in those glasses, Obernai, France
A helpful guide
If like us, you love visiting different regions of France then this Michelin guide will definitely assist in your planning.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our eastern France road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.
If you are a UK dweller then a location little closer to home to visit, is Kent. Situated in the southeast of the UK, this county is also known as ‘The Garden of England’.
However, on this occasion, it isn’t the rolling countryside to be lured by. It’s the incredible number of quintessentially English, seaside towns there are dotted around the shoreline.
The little harbour in Margate, Kent
Time and investment are being spent on these iconic towns, and the rejuvenation can be seen in buckets and spades.
Beautiful sandy bays and bustling harbours are now welcoming back the young and old. You may have heard of Margate and Broadstairs or even the pebbly shores of Deal. However, add Folkestone to your list, particularly if you enjoy urban contemporary art, by the likes of Antony Gormley or Yoko Ono.
The Old High Street, Folkestone
Another Time XVIII” by Antony Gormley
And of course, where better to enjoy good’ol fish and chips, than beside the seaside.
Praça de Santiago at night, Guimarães, Portugal
During our road trip around the north, we based ourselves in a couple of locations. One of which was the charming town of Guimarães and is considered to be the birthplace of Portugal. Its whole historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Northern Portugal is so incredibly captivating and unspoilt, there are some remarkable landmarks throughout the region. Bom Jesus do Monte just outside Braga and Our Lady of Remedies in Lamego, cannot be missed.
The Church Ponte de Lima, Portugal
Looking up to Our Lady of Remedies
I loved the fact that while we were touring around, you still saw local folk out and about on a horse and carts tending to their daily chores. Ladies dressed in their housecoats laughing and chatting with each other while scrubbing their clothes in the open-air washstands.
And come on, who doesn’t love a crisp glass of the effervescent Vinho Verde?
A reference guide
Our recent new found love is Portugal, it is such a beautiful country. While planning our trip, I used the DK Eyewitness books. I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our north to south Portuguese road trip, now you can grab the revised copy.
Ahh, this is another location that just screams out for a road trip. Cruising the winding lanes through the land of magical castles and enchanting Brother’s Grimm towns and villages.
It does feel a little surreal at times, that some of these captivating German towns have managed to stand the test of time.
Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Bavaria, Germany
There’s a well-known touring route the ‘Romantic Road’ that takes you through the heart of Bavaria. All along the trail are beautiful chocolate-box towns that you just can’t help stopping at to discover further.
The route runs from Würzburg to Füssen or vice versa, it’s your choice, or even just handpick a few. The entire distance is around 285 miles (460km).
Schloss Neuschwanstein nestled in the mountains
Gary and I have visited a number of the picturesque cities and towns en-route and here are a few of our favourites. You may have already heard of Rothenburg ob der Tauber, Dinkelsbühl or Füssen, where you can visit the fairy-tale castles of Neuschwanstein and Hohenschwangau. However, I’d also consider adding Nördlingen and Augsburg to your list.
Let us know what your town or city is, as we’d love to add them to our list.
The Mirabell Palace Gardens
Salzburg is incredibly picturesque, with the Hohensalzburg Castle keeping a watchful eye from the hillside above. The city embraces its culture and heritage with style and elegance.
Strolling along Getreidegasse
All along the cobbled streets in the Altstadt are colourful shopfronts tempting you in with their local delicacies and delicious chocolates. What I found so appealing, was that even though a few of the shops were chain stores, they were disguised so well the intricately wrought-iron signs.
Something to make your travels easier?
If you want a safari like no other, then I suggest you visit Zimbabwe. On nearly every occasion that we jumped in the back of a safari truck, for an experience of a lifetime, we were the only couple in the truck.
A lone Hippo in Lake Kariba
Whether we were on the perimeters of Hwange National Park or deep in the heart of Lake Kariba, the whole experience was breath-taking.
Me in Matobo National Park, Zimbabwe
Zimbabwe is such a beautiful country and full of so many welcoming people. Don’t be fooled that Zim is all about the majestic Victoria Falls (which are incredible) it has so much more to offer. Head further afield and sample more of its delights.
A helpful guide
If you're considering an adventure around Zimbabwe, then your in for a holiday of a lifetime. I always find it incredibly useful to plan our trips with the help of a guide book.
Take a look at this informative Bradt guide, it will give you great tips and advice.
The Plaza de la Virgen
Valencia has such a diverse mix of architecture, tranquil little plazas and a culture I could easily slip into. The now dry River Turia has been transformed into a beautiful park leading effortlessly into the City of Arts and Sciences.
The Església de Sant Joan del Mercat
The Mercado in Valencia is a must to see, not only for the ornate structure that it is housed in but for the abundance of fresh, colourful food on display through its bustling aisles. Be warned ‘mind your backs’.
Gary and I were taken aback at how pretty it was. Not just for the picturesque riverside location but, the beautiful half-timbered dwellings that hold so many stories to the life of William Shakespeare.
A view of the River Avon at Stratford-upon-Avon
Too close to miss
A weekend break to the Côte d'Azur that sounds idyllic and an ideal location for some spring sunshine.
The shoreline at Nice
Sweeping palm tree-lined beaches, old bustling, tiny lanes with French blue shutters thrown open above you. Balconies teetering on the edge of ancient pastel coloured homes and locals sharing a tale or two across open windows. This is Nice.
Place Rossetti, Nice
And trust me here, I don’t mind if it’s warm or chilly, I love an ice-cream any time of the year, and Nice has some mighty fine ice-cream parlours.
What’s not to love about the French Riviera?
Now I have to be perfectly honest, I hadn’t heard of Trento prior to us heading there for a travel conference. Perhaps as there are so many other charming Italian cities within this northern part of Italy, that it has become overshadowed slightly.
A view from Piazza Duomo
However, this characterful city deserves a piece all on its own. The architecture is striking, its location south of the Dolomite mountains is stunning, and it has such diverse ancient history that makes it so appealing.
For many years it formed part of the Austro-Hungarian empire, and only around 100 years ago was annexed back to Italy.
Inside the Castle
It’s such a pleasant little city to stroll around with so many lanes and alleys to discover. Ohh yes, it has some wonderful restaurants too.
I feel that so often people will arrive in the Netherlands and just visit Amsterdam. This country has so many other charming towns and cities to discover.
Two porters, waiting to transfer their car of cheese. Alkmaar
The annual opening of Keukenhof gardens with their captivating flower displays is enchanting. The traditions of the cheese market in Alkmaar are great fun to watch. And if you are visiting the Netherlands at the end of April, then try to hang around for King’s Day. This day of celebration is such a memorable experience and remember to wear orange.
The Old Harbour, Rotterdam
The city that Gary and I really embraced was Rotterdam. It suffered heavily during WWII; however, in recent years it really has seen a revival. The mixture of different architecture blends so well together.
Did you know?
Rotterdam is the host of the 2020 Eurovision Song Contest in May. Book early, I think it may get a little busy.
A helpful guide
If you're thinking of heading of to the land of tulips and cheese, then grab this DK Eyewitness guide to help with your planning.
I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood
The vibrant architecture on the churches and theatres is so eye-catching you just stop and stare. It is an incredible city to stroll around and so different from other cities we’d recently visited.
Palace Square and the Hermitage Musuem
For two centuries St Petersburg was the Imperial Capital of Russia and the opulence and magnificence can still be seen. I loved visiting St Petersburg, and if you fancy visiting a city that has that little something special, I urge you to pack your bags and go.
A useful guide
If you've yet to discover the incredible history and architecture in St. Petersburg, you're in for a treat. I found this DK Top 10 Pocket Travel Guide invaluable, they're extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into discovering more.
We used a previous version of this book to plan our St. Petersburg adventure, now you can grab the revised copy.
Perhaps Aachen is a city break that you hadn’t considered before; however, it is full of charm. Aachen is the westernmost city in Germany, and it sits in one of those rare spots where three countries meet. The other two are Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Circle of Money Fountain
Aachen has so much history it is incredible. Emperor Charlemagne played a considerable part in Aachen’s past, along with the Romans and the discovery of ancient hot springs.
The old town has bundles of character, it’s lovely just strolling around spotting all the brass sculptures and fountains, each with their own tale to tell.
Inside Aachen cathedral
The eye-catching Rathaus stands proud in the city although, there is one beautiful building you must pop into, and that is the 1st-century Cathedral. It is unbelievably striking inside and not surprising it is no.3 on UNESCO World Heritage List.
Our first Sloth in Costa Rica
I fell in love with Costa Rica from the moment we arrived, primarily when I spotted a sleepy sloth huddled in the arms of a tree in the wilds of a national park.
Costa Rica is an experience I will never forget, precariously crossing wooden bridges in a cloud forest to ziplining by a flock of toucans through a rainforest. Although what truly makes Costa Rica special are the local Ticos.
The cable line back to the Sky Tram base, Arenal
Not only may you see a parade of marching ants crossing your path, or the distinctive sound of Howler Monkeys swinging high above you. The vibrant and shocking colours of the vegetation stop you in your tracks.
You won’t regret a holiday to Costa Rica, believe me.
Inspired for 2020?
Any of these wonderful destinations or regions. I urge you to take the plunge and head to the one that excites you the most.
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