This month’s travel link up combines two of my favourite things, travel and food!! We’re posing the question, if travel was a menu, what would be your starter (short haul), main (long haul) and/or dessert (a place with a lasting impression).
Having lived in the UK all my life, Europe has always been a short flight for me with opportunities to explore the food and culture of the continent. My favourite destination in Europe is Italy and along with our neighbour France, it’s probably the country that I’ve visited most. Forget about counting countries, I could return to Italy again and again and Mr S and I have a tradition of going to Italy together every year, and since I started my blog I’ve sometimes been more than once!
Our first ever trip to Italy saw a stay in Milan at the Principe di Savoie.
We hired a shiny red Ferrari and zoomed through the streets of Milan driving through narrow roads up to the beautiful Lake Como.
Lake Como holds some incredible memories and I can’t wait to return in just under three weeks time for our second wedding anniversary.
Our next trip to Italy came just days after our wedding as we spent a romantic minimoon in Florence staying at Il Salviatino.
Staying in this beautiful villa hotel and exploring the city of the Renaissance was enough to have me fall even deeper in love with this country and I think Florence is probably my favourite city.
Needless to say, but I also think that Italian food is the food of love, I mean sharing spaghetti and meatballs Lady and the Tramp style is surely the most romantic thing ever? Or sharing the very best bowls of bread dipped in delicious olive oil…or plates of beautifully cooked seafood. Oh and the cheese…
It’s no surprise that we returned to Italy again and spent our 1st wedding anniversary in Rome and the Hotel Eden by The Dorchester Collection.
Though Rome doesn’t quite have my heart like the other cities – it’s very crowded and touristy – It’s the best place to truly discover history.
During this trip, we both marvelled at the relics of the ancient world and the incredible artwork that you could see throughout the city.
Italy will always be a place synonymous with love for me as our next trip was back to the Florence to celebrate my best friend’s wedding.
Honestly I don’t think there’s a better venue for a wedding, with the Tuscan hills in the back ground and the very best food served for dinner. This time we stayed in the beautiful Four Seasons Firenze and also had to time to explore the Tuscan countryside with a visit to Chianti to try the wine!
Later that year I went to Venice on a solo press trip and I absolutely loved my stay at The Gritti Palace. I kept on thinking how much Mr S, with his love of boats and the water, would have just fallen head over heels with Venice and it’s definitely a place I’d love to return to with him.
With my press trip to Turin earlier this year, I’ve already visited my favourite country once in 2017 and I absolutely cannot wait to return with Mr S for our anniversary. I think it’s clear to see why Italy has such a firm place in heart and why I could just return again and again.
For the main course in this metaphorical meal I’m choosing Australia, one of the ultimate long haul destinations from the UK. Four years ago we decided to take some time out and travel around Oz for five weeks, and as I never took a gap year this was the longest I’d ever been away from home. Australia was a country that really and truly blew me away for some many reasons.
Firstly for the diverse landscape as we exploring the cosmopolitan cities for Melbourne and Sydney with it’s iconic landmarks.
As well as the dramatic scenery of the Blue Mountains and the glorious coast line of the great Ocean Road.
We fell in love with the lush landscapes of the Daintree Rainforest and chilled out on the beaches of Hamilton Island.
But also experienced a total contrast to this by heading into the centre of the country and staying in the desert with a view of Ayers Rock.
The food in Australia also totally blew us away. Whether it was fine dining at Vue de Monde, one of the best restaurants that we’d ever been to, the freshest of seafood on the beach, wine tasting in Yarra Valley or even simple takeaway salads. Everything was just excellent.
We stayed in some of the best hotels of my life including eco-luxury lodge Wolgan Valley, tents with a view at Uluru and the beautiful qualia, which has been voted one of the world’s best hotels.
Service at every place was utterly incredible totally friendly and relaxed but not all intrusive.
And long time readers will know that our epic trip to Australia culminated in Christmas in Sydney and a Mr S proposing on Boxing Day at Jonah’s, a beautiful cliff top hotel.
You’re probably wondering, did I not guess that the question would be popped at the end of such an epic trip. Well I hadn’t at all and it took me totally be surprise!
So what place left a lasting impression and the sweetest taste in my mouth? Well honestly, when I’m asked my favourite country of all time I find it hard to choose between South Africa and Australia so I often give a different answer! But South Africa was my dream trip, a country I wanted to visit so much that I was almost scared to just in case it disappointed me. But I really didn’t need to worry about that.
I’ve never seen such beautiful scenery in my life during our adventure in Cape Town, The Winelands, The Garden Route and on Safari in Kruger Park.
The food was exquisite, and we visited some of the world’s best restaurants but also enjoyed the finest seafood on the Waterfront and most incredible wines in Franschhoek and Stellenbosch.
Some of my all time favourite hotels have been in South Africa, including Ellerman House, Birkenhead House, Tsala Treetop Lodge and my all time best, Singita Boulders. All fantastic for not only the beauty of the places but the unique experiences offered by them.
Seeing the wildlife of the country was a total highlight for me especially as it was a chance to see elephants, my favourite animal, in the wild.
And the penguins on Boulders Beach.
South Africa really is a country that has it all…a place that will always be in my heart.
If travel was a meal where would you choose?