Sorpresa! I’m back again already. All this talk of Italy planning seems to have got me in blogging mood. I thought that since I felt so inspired to plan my own wanderings, I’d try and inspire a few of you with some recommendations! So… whether it be in the UK or abroad, I thought it’d be fun to do a little list of my favourite places I’ve been. I’ve chosen these out for a variety of reasons- whilst some come from my favourite childhood memories; others are places I’ve only seen briefly. Either way, they’re all very near and dear to me, and I’d recommend them to anyone! Please enjoy this list of beautiful places!
1.) Lisbon, Portugal
I was lucky enough to experience this beautiful city briefly this year. There’s a massively authentic feel to it created by the surrounding ancient buildings and intricate artwork that seems to cover the streets. One of my favourite things about the city was in fact the elements of art that could be seen throughout it, giving it this great sense of character. Everywhere seems so bright and excentric; and I can’t imagine there’s a time there when it doesn’t feel like Summer. There’s a constant echo of beeping tuc tuc’s which gives great liveliness to the city, and the smell of Spanish spices are ever present.
The hilltop views are just one of the things that make Lisbon simply stunning. It’s a long, hard walk in 30 degree heat to get to the highest point of the city, but definitely rewarding once you reach it. The expanse of time-worn monuments and bohemian looking villas is breathtaking to say the least, and oddly enough in the distance, you can see a nonexistent barrier between the new and old. Spanish stone buildings turn to huge steel skyscrapers as you reach the modern part of the city. It’s unusual, but ideal for the variety of tourists which flock there. It’s a bustling, cultivated, antithetical city which I would definitely visit again!
2.) Sands End Valley, UK
It may not be as exotic or extravagant as Lisbon, but Sands End Valley, located on the Yorkshire coast, is still just as wonderful to me. With a stream running from the sea around an ancient old oak tree in the center of the valley, it’s almost as if this place has been taken straight from a fairytale. It’s a very near and dear place to me due to my fond childhood memories there. In fact, the same rope crafted swing which hangs from the old oak has remained there for almost the entirety of my growing up. It’s picturesque to say the least, and never changing. There’s also a little colony of goats on the hillside which adds to the countryside feel, and a chorus of quacking can be heard throughout the valley from the families of ducks which reside there. In my opinion, it’s the perfect get a way place- secluded and very family friendly. This scenic and timeless place made my top 5 without a second thought.
3.) Gibraltar, Spain
There’s certainly a British element about this unusual little place. It definitely has a homely feel, which is strangely comforting when you are in fact a long way from home. The accents, food and currency all have an aspect which makes you feel oddly familiarized, until you look around and spot the palm trees and turquoise coloured ocean. There are many lovely little touristic places in Gibraltar- St Michaels cave in all its magnificence for example. My personal favourite was the ape spot on the rock, where you were able to interact with the famous Gibraltar monkeys. Even though I’m not keen on monkeys (they scare me a bit), it was hilarious to see just how mischievous they were.
On our travels, we drove over a long, ominous looking strip of land which was covered in traffic. It was only when we heard a loud alarm being sounded and saw that the barriers in front of us were slowly descending that we realized we were driving on an airport runway. That’s right… Gibraltar is home to one of the world’s most dangerous airports, and that seems almost comical to me. I felt the airport mirrored the small, peculiar ways of the island itself. On the South border, it’s said that you can see Morocco over the sea on a clear day, and the South side’s also where the small Muslim community resides. One of my favourite sights was the beautifully built white mosque which stood out fantastically against the rugged surface of the rock. It’s the combination of homeliness with unfamiliarity which made Gibraltar appeal so much to me.
4.) Cap de Formentor, Majorca
Cap de Formentor is certainly a place for luxury lovers. Whilst on our family holiday in Majorca, we decided to take a day to visit the spot since it was close to our resort. We were in for a bit of a shock though when we discovered it was £100 each for a sunbed… so we settled for towels. The resort consisted of a single strip of sandy white beach dashed with populations of palm trees- making it a very serene, secluded spot. If you looked close enough, you could see the impressive celebrity mansions embedded into the cliff edges. I was very impressed by the long list of celebrities which we’d heard were staying there too- Michael Bublé and Catherine Zeta Jones to name a few. Other than the sound of soft waves lapping against the shores edge, it was practically silent. Although it may not be the ideal family location, the tranquility alone made it the perfect relaxation location (however cringey that may sound). The opposition of the gleaming white sand alongside the contrasting turquoise sea and dark, cushioned sunbeds certainly made me realize the reason for Formetor’s mass appeal. I’ll admit, just like most girls, I love a glamorous lifestyle, so a day in the life of it wasn’t bad.
5.) Castleton, UK
Low key, yet full of friendly locals, Castleton is another of my favourite places. This countryside village dates back to the Celtic era, and has a very communal kind of vibe to it. The highlight for me though is definitely the cave. Also known as the devils arse (though I find that a little bit cheeky- pun intended) the cave is for sure Castleton’s main attraction, and resides at the highest point of the village. With the ruins of Peveril Castle towering above, the devils arse is a natural wonder frozen in time. Inside, the stalagmites and stalactites are enough to intrigue anyone, creating the vision of a place prehistoric. The echoes which bounce from the stony surroundings might seem a bit eerie but will also leave you in awe at the vastness of the location. And the surrounding area’s just as beautiful! Though it may not be in Yorkshire, the expanse of country landscape around the area reminds me of an extract from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights.
No doubt I’ll be back again soon, au revoir for now though!