by Dave and Carmen Allan-Petale
A new year is upon us and many of you will shortly be planning your adventures for this year. We thought we’d devise a list of the top 13 places we think are worth visiting over the next 12 months. Some of the locations we’ve been to but others we’re yet to see
Places we’ve been and want to go back to:
1. Plitvice Lakes, Croatia
If you haven’t been to Croatia, the country is worth a visit in itself but make sure you put Plitvice Lakes on your itinerary. Many people venturing to the country stick to the coast but this national park is well worth the trip away from the ocean. Imagine mile after mile of deep forest, crashing waterfalls and water so clear you can see the scales on the countless fish swimming through the reeds.
2. Lisbon, Portugal
Portugal is one of our favourite European countries but most Brits head to the south when they visit. We loved Lisbon because it’s very charming – it’s almost like being in Italy except the locals aren’t as used to tourists, which is nice. The tram system is the oldest in Europe and as you roll up the cobbled streets it really feels as though you’ve stepped back to the early 1900s.
3. Puglia, southern Italy
This is where the Italians go on holiday in Italy. When we went we stayed in a beautiful villa that’s been featured on the architectural show Grand Designs, called Il Collegio. It’s very remote but that’s half the beauty of it. Up on the hill is the town which has sweeping views over the vineyard-spotted land.
4. Cornwall, England
If you want to see the true English countryside, this is the place to visit. The best thing about going to the southernmost tip of the country is that the locals are a lot more relaxed than elsewhere in the nation, making for a pleasant visit. Tourism is their lifeblood here so you’ll be treated well. Ensure you go on a country walk and finish of your jaunt in a pub lunch, ordering the fish of the day.
5. Santorini, Greece
Take advantage of the many tourists being deterred from travelling to Greece this year because of the austerity crisis and make the trip. Santorini is like an island out of fairytale. You can choose what colour sandy beach you’d like to visit – thanks to the volcano on the island there’s black, white and red sand to pick from. Take a day trip to the nearby uninhabited island where a volcano is still active a hike to the crater.
6. Marrakesh, Morocco
If you want to visit a place that is a strange mix between first and third world then Morocco is the place to be. You can order a mint tea at a French cafe before visiting the hustle and bustle of the main market square where it’s not uncommon to see men carrying sheep on their shoulders. Relax in one of the many hammans as the women give you a scrub down, or go on a hiking trip to the nearby Atlas Mountains – the beauty is spectacular.
7. Ypres, Belgium
Next year is the 100 year anniversary of the beginning of World War I but get in early with a historic trip to the battlefields. Dave went to Ypres last year with a friend to retrace the footsteps of their grandfathers who fought in World War I and II and although very sad, they found it rewarding to learn more about their ancestors. Ypres was completely destroyed in the Great War but its inhabitants rebuilt it brick by brick until it was restored to its former glory, so it’s well worth a visit.
8. San Sebastian, Spain
We loved our visit to San Sebastian a few years ago, where we hired out a campervan and travelled like hippies all around the country. We found that if you’re worried about staying in touch with your family when you’re on the road, you can use local phone cards. And if you don’t wish to spend any money on phone calls, international texting is one more option that’s cheap and easy.
In San Sebastian, we spent a beautiful sunny afternoon swimming at the beach before enjoying an afternoon glass of wine at one of the many bars in the town. Everyone around us sipped their drinks slowly, revelling in being with their friends and enjoying the moment.
Places we haven’t been and want to go to:
9. Coral Bay, Western Australia
I used to visit Coral Bay as a kid but Dave’s never been and I’d love to take him there. Dubbed the new Great Barrier Reef, unlike Queensland’s reef you don’t need to take a boat out to reach the coral, you simply swim to it. Which makes it great for those who don’t yet have their scuba license – like me – as it’s easy to enjoy the fish with just a snorkel and some flippers. During my time there I’ve swum with some stunning fish and even a turtle.
10. Utah, USA
After seeing the film 127 Hours we’ve put Utah on our list. In fact, the setting is so stunning there’s been many a film set here. The scenery in 127 Hours looks amazing and we’d love to hike through the rocky regions. We’d set out early to watch the sun rise but we’d make sure we let someone know where we’re travelling to so we don’t have to chop our arms off if we get stuck down a ravine.
11. Kenya, Africa
I did a safari in Zimbabwe with my parents when I was nine and Dave’s never gone further south than Morocco in Africa, so this is another place I’m dying to visit. After watching David Attenborough’s Africa, how could you not want to visit this ever-changing continent? Serengeti looks stunning and I’d relish in the chance to see elephants and rhinos in the wild once more.
12. Falkland Islands
We went to huge travel show in London and the Falkland Islands had its first ever publicly campaign to bring tourists to its remote shores in the freezing South Atlantic. The islands are famous for the violent tussle between Britain and Argentina in 1982 for control of their sovereignty. Politics aside, the folks at the stall told us about the miles of rugged coast to explore and the teeming species of wildlife there. Seals, penguins, albatrosses and even whales – all seen from the back of a hired Land Rover with a B&B and a warm pub waiting at the end. Worth fighting for!
13. Havana, Cuba
Our good friends Corrin and Rosie just went to the Cuban capital and had a blast. We all know the sterotypes – mojitos, cigars, rum, salsa dancing and old American cars. We want to experience all of that, but also see how day to day life is in this Communist holdout. Decades of American sanctions and poverty have taken their toll but it seems things are loosening up so it would be cool to see the changes as well as the traditions.