A whimsical topic for this blog. ‘If travel was a menu, what place is your starter (short haul), main (long haul) & dessert (lasting impression)’
Kinda depends on where you live in regard to what is considered long or short haul, but for what its worth :
Best weekend trip – anywhere in France. If you are living in Europe, and especially in France or the countries surrounding it you can pretty much land anywhere and have a satisfying weekend of a bit if sight seeing, a bit of eating and a bit of shopping. There is always a chateau close by. Shopping and eating takes a little research, but it is worth it and that is part of the fun of traveling.
The beaches of the Cote d’Azure and Biarritz and warm weather, or the French Alpes to the east. In the north is Normandy, Le Touquet or St Malo and more rugged and beautiful coast. In the middle is Lyon, the gastronomic capital or France and around the Loire and Tours are the most beautiful chateaux.
Main Course :
Best long haul adventure – Russia. A friend and I took a trip on the Trans-Siberian many years ago and disgracefully all my photos are in a box in storage. But suffice it to say we had a good adventure.
Lake Baikal and the wild wild west (except it is the east). The train journey from Ulaan Bataar in Mongolia through to Moscow took five days. I think. It was all a bit of a blur after a while. This consisted of four days of Siberian forests, and at that time Russia was going through a bit of political upheaveal and there were men in flak jackets coming onto the train and people jumping out windows. After that we crossed the Urals and technically we were in Europe.
Moscow – so much history. The Kremlin dominates and can be visited. The Arbat, where we were offered guns and protection while sipping coffee. St Basils’s and the oh so well known onion domes. The Red Square, the GUM department store on the edge of the red square; and Stalin’s Seven Sisters Skyscrapers that dominated the skyline when I was there, and the incredible metro stations. We visited the Armory which had Fabergé eggs, Peter the Great’s boots, and the gold carriage used at the Catherine the Great’s inauguration.
St Petersburg has the Hermitage Museum, much more delicate architecture and more of the gold topped cathedrals. Plus the Neva River, midnight sunsets and its own version of history – much more closely allied to Europe.
Lasting impression – Japan because it is so different and culturally intact.
You visit Japan and boom, you know you are somewhere different. Although having said that, everyone compared Hokkaido, where I was living, to Canada. Not having lived anywhere cold before I couldn’t make the comparison.
But Japan – a dessert can’t be mistaken for something else, and so it is with Japan. Guest houses – ‘Ryokans, with tatami mats and futons; ‘onsen’ – public baths where you can relax; yakiniku – barbecue houses; Royce chocolates that are exquisite. Ikebana flower arrangements, and the Japanese tea ceremony. I stopped at truck stops and ate what the truck drivers ate and it is different flavours of ramen. (YUM!). There is a Japanese way to do everything and when it comes to food and design it is normally better.
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