Paperchase Travel Notebook / Treat Box Mini Inspirational Cards
I love travel (or should I say, I love going on holiday). In fact, I love nothing more than walking around a new place with a camera in hand, just snapping away. As a result, I have a hard drive jam-packed with thousands and thousands of travel photos. Ever since 2010, I have been to 18 different places, so thought it would be nice to share with you two photos from every place I have visited because one photo is just not enough.
Myself and my then-boyfriend visited Amsterdam for the long Easter weekend in 2010 and absolutely loved the city. It’s so photogenic with so much to see and do. Our hotel, Hotel Nadia, was situated perfectly in the centre of the town. It held the record for the worlds narrowest and steepest staircase (not officially, we just gave it that award). We were only there for a few days but saw The Heineken Museum, experienced a couple of their “coffee shops”, went on a double decker train to see some windmills and stopped off at the famous cheese town of Edam. We also managed to get ourselves totally lost many many times walking along the countless canals which all looked exactly the same. It was all good fun though.
2. Rhodes, Greece
For me, Rhodes signified a very special holiday. It was the first time I went abroad after my four stone weight loss. I felt super proud of my achievement and remember buying a whole new suitcase of holiday clothes to celebrate. We stayed in a town called Pastida in a very pretty hotel, The Garden Hotel which came complete with it’s own daily rooster alarm clock at 4am. During the week we took a trip to Faliraki and visited the Kallithea Springs – an ancient spa surrounded by palms and pine trees. It was quite beautiful and quite hot too – in July 2010, it was peaking at around 31°C.
3. Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt
Egypt was the first real adventurous holiday I went on, we stayed in the Tropicana Sea Beach Hotel in Sharm. In the space of a short week in December 2010 (we lost two days due to snow on the runway in the UK) we crammed a lot in. We didn’t actually realise that to see the Giza pyramids you had to get a internal flight on an Egyptian airline which was an experience in itself. We were there the same week of the Sharm shark attacks and went quad biking through the Sinai desert. A very eventful but cool experience I’ll never forget.
4. Corfu, Greece
In April 2011, I spent my 25th birthday on the sunny Mediterranean island of Corfu, staying in the Aiolos Beach Hotel in Perama. Corfu, like all Greek islands was absolutely stunning. I don’t remember too much about this holiday, expect we went to Achillion Palace which according to Google is ideally located in the picturesque village of Gastouri. We also went on an island tour with our guide who spoke very limited English. She just pointed out the window and said “lovely views” every five minutes. We left the coach none-the-wiser at what we had seen but were in agreement that Corfu did in fact have very lovely views.
5. Playa del Carmen, Mexico
Mexico, the place of tequila, lizards and the all-inclusive all you can eat buffet. In December 2011, we spent two weeks in Riviera Maya in Playa del Carmen and only left the hotel twice. This wasn’t due to personal choice, you just couldn’t go anywhere in Mexico unless it was with an organised coach trip or shuttle bus transport provided by the hotel. We went on one trip to both Isla Contoy and Isla Mujeres – sold by Thompson as two island paradises in one day + a free lunch. We were also lucky enough to squeeze into the hotel mini bus one day and have a few hours freedom wandering around in Cancun. I like to sightsee and not just sit around the pool eating and drinking all day, so this holiday felt a bit restrictive.
6. Crete, Greece
You can probably guess by now that I do like a little Greek holiday. For my 26th birthday, in April 2012, we went to Crete and stayed in the village of Analypsi. A holiday in Greece isn’t complete without visiting a harbour for the day, finding a pretty taverna and enjoying a spot of lunch looking out at the sea. We did just this on my birthday and went to Agios Nikolaos, a little coastal town with all the lovely views. On this holiday, we also arranged a day trip to the picture-postcard island of Santorini.
7. Santorini, Greece
Santorini is Greece. It dominates the Greek postcard industry and I can see why. It’s beautiful. You can get the ferry from Heraklion in Crete directly across the water to Santorini in about two and a half hours. With my camera all set up and ready to start snapping away, I didn’t first factor in that we would need to use quad bikes to reach these picture-perfect photo spots. It is scary, clinging on the back of a quad bike, but pretty exhilarating too. When we finally reached the beauty spots in Oia, it was well worth the bumpy ride. You can see the whole place in a few hours so I would recommend just a day trip if you are holidaying on a nearby island.
8. Phuket, Thailand
Thailand probably deserves its own post as it is such an incredible destination. We spent two weeks here in September 2012 in Kantary Bay, Cape Panwa, Phuket and I can still remember it so clearly to this day. I experienced proper Thai massages (ouch), ate the best Pad Thai ever, held on for dear life in a Tuk-Tuk (and I thought quad bikes were scary!), went elephant trekking, saw Buddhist temples, went to the party district of Patong and ended up in hospital with influenza. Wow. We were supposed to go on a few island trips but these were cancelled as the sea was too rough. Oh well, even more reason to return there some day.
On Boxing Day, 2012, we booked a spontaneous trip to The Algarve in Portugal to escape the cold UK weather. I remember it being warm even though it was December and I even wore my shorts. We found a last minute deal on a hotel in Albufeira which was just a short walk along the beach to the town. On one particular day, we got a train and ended up in Ayamonte, Spain for the day drinking cocktails in Sgt Peppers Bar. Last minute holidays are always memorable.
Just after my 27th birthday (April, 2013) we went off to Los Christianos in Tenerife. This was a memorable holiday as we spent our entire budget on two tickets to go up Mount Teide and had to spend the rest of the week cooking pasta and drinking sangria from the supermercardo. Great planning haha. I also remember Mount Teide well, I stumbled around the top of a volcano with a cold wearing flip flops. Quite a ridiculous thing to do but an achievement nonetheless.
In July 2013, we went on another holiday, this time to Fethiye in Turkey. There is actually loads to do in Turkey and we crammed a lot into the week. We went to the mud baths in Dalyan, visited the ghost down in Kayaköy, went hiking in the Butterfly Valley in Oludeniz, had a Turkish Spa and went to İztuzu beach (a nesting site for turtles). We didn’t know then, but this would also be the last holiday I went on with my then-boyfriend, as a month later we ended our six year relationship. It was sad, but people change and life moves on.
12. Kefalonia, Greece
A year later, at the end of June 2014, I rekindled my love of holidays and went away with my new travel buddy – my sister, Vicky. We went to Kefalonia in Greece and had a lovely week in the sunshine. We stayed in the Olive Garden Apartments in Lassi which was a short hilly walk to Argostoli. Vicky fondly remembers the time when I let her struggle up the hill carrying all the water whilst I marched on ahead and took photos. We went on a boat trip to the nearby Greek island of Lefkada, looked for the rich and famous in Fiscardo, ate lots of Greek ice cream and visited the beach town of Scala. We also went on an organised cave tour with a bloke who was the spitting image of Rod Stewart. Good times.
13. Disney Land, Paris
To celebrate the end of my degree in October 2015, me and my new partner in travel went on a little jolly to Disney Land, Paris. The hotel we settled for was the very grand Dream Castle, although we did not opt for a grand evening meal so we spent most nights emptying all our loose Euros into the vending machine at the end of the hall. Anyway, what’s not to love about Disney and all the queuing for hours and hours to get a photo with your favourite characters. Vicky was way more enthusiastic about this than I was. When we were done with Disney, we took a little trip on the train into Paris to see the sights. Note to self: when you are at the very top of the Eiffel Tower it is probably not the best time to discover you have a fear of heights. The walk down the stairs was very very shaky indeed.
14. Dublin, Ireland
Just before the big 30th, my sister and her boyfriend, Dan took me on a little fun trip to Dublin. There isn’t too much to do in Dublin except drink Guinness which we managed to do very well. We visited the Guinness Storehouse and tried all the different flavours, strawberry Guinness anyone? We also went in to The Temple Bar for a “quick drink” after lunch and staggered out at about 11pm at night. It’s hard not to get carried away in the merriment of live Irish music, acoustic bands, singing, drinking and generally having a fab time. What an awesome way to celebrate turning 30!
15. Gran Canaria
I first met Shaun in May 2016 and by July we were going on our first holiday together. Some may think that’s a little crazy and fast-paced but 18 months on we are still together, so I say just go for it! Shaun and I went to Gran Canaria and had a really great week together in the scorching sunshine. We had champagne on the plane, played mini golf, visited the port of Mogán, trekked across hot sand in Playa del Inglés, went on a sailing excision on the Aphrodite boat and drank our body weight in Tropical beer. We stayed in Bahia Feliz which was a short walk along the beach to the many restaurants and tavanas. This will always be a very special holiday for many reasons. If something feels right, why wait.
16. Kos, Greece
A few months later, in September 2016, we went away to the Sunny View Hotel in Kardamena, Kos for Shaun’s 29th birthday. One of the best days was when we went to Zia, a picturesque village in the mountains and walked around a very tranquil Nature Park which offered stunning views across Kos. This day also happened to fall on Shaun’s birthday so it was perfect. On this holiday we went on a boat trip to visit the nearby Greek island of Nisyros and only had a snickers bar all day and also had a few unfortunate encounters with stray angry looking dogs (my worst fear). But other than that another brilliant holiday in Greece. And George from Sunny View also sent us a Christmas Card last year, nice touch George.
In April 2017 this year, I turned 31 and like always I wanted to spend my birthday somewhere hot and sunny. We picked Cyprus for our third holiday together and chose Paphos as it looked like a good resort. We stayed in the amazing Constantinous Bros hotel and later became firm friends with another George, the food and beverage manager, after a particularly boozy night around the dart board. On my birthday we visited Coral Bay for ice cream which was lovely. On another occasion we ended up on a bus travelling from Paphos to Nicosia for a solid two hours (and then a further two hours to return back). Always check the map when you don’t know where you are going. Lesson learned.
18. Zante, Greece
Our most recent holiday was to the beautiful island of Zante, Greece in September 2017. This trip was to celebrate Shaun turning 30 and it really was the perfect place to be. We stayed in the Contessa Hotel in Argassi and after a quick room change we had a fantastic time. The most iconic thing in Zante is the Shipwreck and this appears on almost every postcard. After a particularly choppy journey we arrived in one piece and took some snaps. We also went turtle spotting, played mini golf, had a horse and cart ride, went to Tsiilivi, Gerakas and ate a lot of Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. It was the best holiday yet and I’m so excited to go somewhere new with Shaun next year. To read my Zante Travel Diary click here.
Have you visited any of these places? If so, I would love to hear what you thought! Also, can you recommend me somewhere awesome to visit for my birthday in April next year? I love holiday planning!
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