The internet – and the travel blogging scene – is chocabloc with content and opinion pieces from fearless ladies who like a bit of adventure.
From Katy over at the fabulous Not Wed or Dead – otherwise known as “the jilted bride” or the “Backpacking Bridget Jones” – to The Pin the Map Project, World of Wanderlust, Australian based ex-Londoner, Girl Tweets World, Girl Vs. Globe, and my personal favourite Travelettes, a blog founded by female travellers for female travellers – the list is enormous – it’s evident that women are killing it right now in the world of travel blogging and globetrotting.
More and more of us women folk are packing our bags and heading off to seek exploration now more than ever before. I mean, you can’t scroll through your Facebook news feed without a tale of wanderlust popping up, or pick up a magazine (Stylist, I’m looking at your gorgeous face) without reading an article on an inspirational gal who likes a holiday or six.
But of course not everyone – present company included – can afford, or are in a position – to head off into the sunset on a permanent basis (although, I assure you, I’m certainly working on it) but that doesn’t make us immune to the travel bug that’s going around.
It light of this, I decided to ask my nearest and dearest of womankind to tell me all about their favourite travel spots. From time spent exploring exotic cities that excited the senses, to life-changing moments with loved ones on stunning, panoramic beaches, the below destinations will make you want to grab you passports, your bestie or your beau, and book the next flight out of here.
For my friend, Alexandra, nothing beats the sights, sounds and smells of Marrakech.
“For a short haul flight destination Marrakech simply cannot be beaten. Once the hot desert air wraps around you and you are whisked away into a labyrinthine of narrow alleys and souks, stuffed to the rafters with vendors selling phantasmagoric arrays of brightly coloured fabrics, cone pyramids of vibrantly coloured spice, the acrid tang of freshly tanned leather and the cacophony of Arabic and Berber voices coaxing in potential buyers, the hollow echo of metal on metal as the craftsmen hammer together babouches or punch intricate stucco in metal, while overladen donkeys traipse wearily through the dappled shade of the narrow dusty passageways and men in pointy hooded jelabas dip in and out of the shadows and disappear through large mysterious doorways, you realise that Marrakech is at once the most exotic, otherworldly, challenging and remarkable cities on earth.
Every night Jemaar El Fnar, the main square dominated by the famous Kortubia Mosque, illuminates the night sky with casually strung fairy lights woven between tightly packed food stands as the sun’s giant orange form drops below the horizon, and smoke rises up from the hundreds of ad hoc kebab stalls. The music from the pipes of snake charmers fill the air, and old fashioned dentists set up their rickety tables with arrays of menacing rusted tools and second hand dentures among the groups bunched around storytellers or traditional performers while myriad food stands serve up sheep heads and cows eyes, snails and entrails among other more familiar and delectable produce. The sweet smell of ‘Berber Whisky’ or mint tea mingles with the charcoal wafts, as charismatic servers jostle for attention, with more and more dramatic and daring ways of pouring the steaming hot liquid from an eye-wateringly great height. The young men here have learned the gift of the gab, calling out the names of famous British chefs to entice in western tourists, ready with a cheeky grin and an overwhelming glut of persuasion. But the most remarkable thing about this city lies behind the huge, heavy wooden doors set flush into the cool walls of the narrow dusty stone passageways. The many riads and fondouks are like oases of calm, with each door swinging open into silent courtyards bar the tinkle of a trickling fountain, often festooned with rose petals, all decorated with incredible mosaic work, the intricate mathematics of Moorish geometric design filling every corner among a riot of textiles, ornaments and crockery presented for sale in the souks outside. Even the most modest establishment boasts an almost impossible serenity and an aesthetic decor that one simply cannot find outside of Morocco. And if eating is your thing, the array of incredible tagines combining delicious meats with apricots, pistachios, olives, rose water and gentle spices will leave you salivating for more tongue challenging combinations. But it’s not just the Medina that should be enjoyed. The incredible design of the Saadian tombs, the awe inspiring scope of the old Palace, the phenomenally planted haven of Le Jardin Majorelle all lend themselves to being not only sites of remarkable historic interest but pockets of the most unlikely calm in this otherwise constantly bustling city. If you can haggle like a Berber and handle the heat of the desert Cherguin sweeping dust across the landscape, then go at once. Yes you will be hot and you will be very bothered, but you will be left speechless at the sheer variety of life and art that this truly sensational city has to offer.”
For the lovely Nichelle, it’s the streets of romantic Paris that has captured her heart. Experienced for the first time not with a man in tow, but her best friend and subsequent tour guide, Sally, this is a tale of a good old girlie getaway to the capital of chic.
“The romantic atmosphere of Paris can often be overwhelming but despite what the tourist board might state, this beautiful city is not just for loved-up couples, but for girlfriends escaping the humdrum reality of the everyday in the spirit of getting away from it all.
One of the many fantastic things about Paris is its accessibility from London due to the Eurostar. Having arrived stupidly early in Paris after getting the 05:30 from St Pancras station, we decided to make the most of it and dump our bags at the hotel, before heading to the nearest coffee shop to indulge in a flaky, delicious croissant – a bit naughty considering my friend, Sally, is a gluten free lady, but when in Paris!
Our trip was a short getaway but that’s the beauty of the excellent transport links between the two capital cities. We spent most of our time exploring the streets, walking and talking, and stopping every hour to enjoy the café culture. For me, this is one of the best things Paris has to offer, somewhere to sit back and take in the culture without having to move an inch. We immersed ourselves in this side of Paris life – wearing black, eating cheese, drinking wine and pretending to be Parisian! Of course we dragged ourselves away from the mesmerising people-watching to do a few obligatory sightseeing stops, including the beautiful Notre Dame and the famous Arch de triumph, but we mostly frequented the incredibly “cool” district of La Marais. This districted, situated on the north bank of the Seine, has become a chic residential areas. Comprised of narrow streets and attractive historic architecture, unique boutiques and eateries, we loved it there! Paris is an excellent location for people watching. There’s nothing better than sitting back and watching all of the attractive people of Paris walk by!”
Travel can often provide us with very special memories, be it with a partner, friends or family. For the fabulous Sarah, two destinations spring to mind. Firstly, the stunning Maldives, where she holidayed with her now-husband. For busy Sarah, the beautiful island resort meant spending time relaxing, winding down and sharing incredibly special moments with loved ones. Secondly, she chose Florence where memories of precious time spent with family were formed.
“The best place I have ever visited is the Maldives. The island was incredibly tiny, taking approximatelty fifteen minutes to walk the beach that span its perimeter. I loved it because there was so little to do but indulge in indolence; I felt no pressure to constantly be running around visiting sites of cultural, historical or religious importance on this particular trip. Our days consisted of swimming and snorkling in the ocean, reading, sleeping, and of course, eating and drinking. The Maldives holds a signigicant place in my heart because my then boyfriend – and now-husband – proposed to me that holiday, on the beach over a candle-lit lobster dinner so it was pretty special!
As you originally asked me to say which city was my favourite , I would have to say Florence. We had a wonderful family holiday in Tuscany with my Dad as teenagers. He passed away nearly two years ago and every time I think about that holiday I think of sunshine, gelato, laughing and my Pops drinking massive pints of Italian beer!”
And lastly, my choice. It’s difficult to choose a place that I hold dear to my heart when I have been so lucky to travel to many beautiful places.
“Although not my favourite place to travel, I hold Florida incredibly dear to my heart as we spent a number of family holidays screaming our way around theme parks, basking in the glorious sunshine, and, my personal favourite, stuffing our faces with pizza and watching a hurricane in full force through the hotel window with my brother, oohing and ahing like we were merely watching fireworks. For me, those holidays, and those particular memories, mean a great deal as my brother passed away eight years ago and it is somewhere my parents and I remember fondly. I am grateful for those moments.
There’s something about Melbourne, Australia, that really has me by the heartstrings. I spent some time there during my solo travel trip in 2015, and I don’t know what it is about the city that really struck a chord with me, but in the immortal words of T-Pain, I’m sprung. Although situated on the other side of the globe, there’s something incredibly European about Melbourne. It’s something in the way it holds itself perhaps. If Melbourne were a person, it would undoubtedly be a hipster, but a lovable one with whom you could easily discuss art and music without wanting to beat them with the spokes of their bicycle or penny farthing.
It may sound self-indulgent, but Melbourne is where I first felt comfortable in my solo-travel skin. It holds memories of pride, of achievement. Of making my way halfway around the world and being fine, of feeling wonderful. Of shedding an old, dead skin. I remember sitting by the Yarra, with one of Melbourne’s notoriously strong coffees in my hand, watching the sunlight ripple the surface of the water and feeling at peace. I’d had similar experiences on the top of mountains in New Zealand, breathing fresh, crisp air, but this moment was so close to my normality that it really sticks in my mind.
Despite growing up in the countryside, I am a city girl at heart, and for me there is nothing better than the hustle and bustle of busy streets filled with people. I spent a great deal of time exploring the famous street art laneways such as Flinders and Hosier Lane. Melbourne is known as one of the world’s greatest street art capitals for its unique expressions of art displayed on approved outdoor locations throughout the city. I can spend all day getting lost in the images and words of other people.
Another huge draw to Melbourne is its multi-culturalism. It’s a vibrant city, boasting an eclectic population and this is reflected in its eateries. I can’t even compare Melbourne’s China Town to that of Manchester or, dare I say it, even London. The food is phenomenally delectable and cheap. I was in dumpling heaven and in grave danger of becoming one myself.
By night, the streets come alive with revellers. Achingly hip bars are secreted in alleyways, hidden on rooftops, or stashed in the cellars of unsuspecting buildings. As a lover of great night life, and even greater music, I can thoroughly recommend Melbourne for a good time, whatever floats your boat.
So, ladies. Where are your favourite holiday destinations? Are you a frequent traveller with a blog, or a holiday maker with a tale to tell of somewhere dear to your heart? Are there places in the world that played backdrop to important moments in your lives? Is travelling for you all about sense, smell and sight?
And boys, don’t be shy. Not one to leave anyone out, I’m looking to do a Boys Who Travel blog post soon. If you’ve got a place you could wax lyrical about for days, get in touch. I’m all about the travel love.