Hall of Fame

This page will always be a work in progress. It’s where I turn the spotlight back on my absolute favourite places, faces and experiences to paint a bigger picture of how much happiness travel has brought me – and hopefully, gives you a few ideas for places and experiences you might like to seek out yourself.

Favourite Destinations Title

Cities, regions or even whole countries make it onto this list because I find myself singing its praises long after I return home. Some have an embarrassment of riches in terms of natural beauty, others are vibrant metropolises with a surprise around every corner, some keep me in a constant state of awe at their beauty and others are just a lot of fun.

Dog swimming in water in Levanto Italy

  • Paris – My favourite city in the world, even if that makes me a huge cliche. Read all my Paris posts here, how I’d spend One Perfect Day in Paris,  or check out my new Paris City Guide.
  • Levanto – Levanto was a convenient base for visiting Cinque Terre to give us a break from the crowds. I didn’t expect it to be my favourite small town in the world. Read why here.
  • Spain – I’ve seen so little of Spain, but I’m already in love. There are so many cities I couldn’t visit Spain again without seeing, that I’ve decided it needs its own dedicated trip – my next Europe trip for sure.
  • Athens – It wasn’t love at first sight, but on my return visit a few days later, after visiting the islands, Athens really grew on me. It’s now one of my favourite cities. Read Is Athens Safe for Travellers in 2014? and 6 Reasons to Visit Athens Now
  • Green Island – This is how I imagine paradise should look – a singular, sandy island covered in lush rainforest and fringed by crystal clear waters and the Great Barrier Reef. Post coming soon.
  • Moreton Island  – It’s hard to believe that such raw beauty can be found so close to Brisbane. You can do guided day trips if you don’t have a 4WD, but you’ll be rewarded if you take the time and effort to drive around the island. Read about my time on Moreton Island here.
  • Florence – Florence is my favourite city in Italy. It is easily walkable, adores the arts and the historic centre is so beautiful that it is worth putting up with the many tourists. The food is delicious and the Boboli Gardens are one of the most beautiful places to get lost. Read my Florence posts here.
  • Nice – Nice may be a lot of things, but you can’t deny that it’s a lot of fun.

Unforgettable Experiences Title

Sailing around Capri Contiki

  • Ice skating on top of the Eiffel Tower
  • Bringing in the New Year under the Eiffel Tower in 2012
  • Our up-close-and-personal fireworks show in Melbourne, New Years Eve 2013. Keen to avoid the crowds, my boyfriend and I decided to bring in the New Year from his apartment balcony, hoping that we’d be able to see the Docklands fireworks in the distance. Our New Years Eve Fireworks Map didn’t tell us that the building next door would be part of the display, letting off a spectacular fireworks show from the roof! We couldn’t have asked for a better view.
  • Floating into the Blue Grotto in Capri, while the Gregorian-sounding chants of the local “captains” of all the dinghies reverberated off the high grotto walls. Chants above the boat, electric blue water below it. Incredible.
  • Jumping into the Mediterranean from our boat, during a day trip sailing around Capri
  • Seeing snow for the first time in Lucerne, as we floated up Mt Pilatus by gondola. Those. Views.
  • Visiting a gun club in the outskirts of Prague – I’d never seen a gun in my life (thank you Australia), but the opportunity arose and true to form, I decided to give it a try. We shot targets, not living creatures, so even our group’s vegetarian gave it a go. The men in my life back home are very jealous (and surprised) that I shot an M-16, AK47, sniper rifle and shot gun. Now I’ve done it, I have no need to repeat the experience, but it was an unusual surprise on the road.
  • An unintentionally terrifying tour of Dunedin’s stunning, but treacherous cliffs in a golf buggy – I saw a baby seal though!
  • The Lido – Like the Moulin Rouge, but better. Read my post Skip the Moulin Rouge, see the Lido.
  • Gliding over the treetops on my way up to the rainforest village of Kuranda, just outside of Cairns
  • Snorkelling on the Great Barrier Reef, from a pristine beach on Green Island

History & Culture Title

Paris Crypt

  • Roman Baths, Bath (UK)
  • Ancient Ephesus (Turkey)
  • Pompeii (Italy)
  • Roman ruins underneath Notre Dame, Paris
  • The beautifully preserved town of Laycock, England
  • St John’s Monastery, on the Greek Island of Patmos – Gorgeous monastery, fascinating museum underneath and breathtaking island views!
  • Capuchin Crypt, Rome – Totally creepy. Monks made artwork out of bones, a whole lot crazier than the Catacombs of Montparnasse. But certainly memorable.

Museums & Galleries Title

DSCN0729

I love history, but I’m a somewhat reluctant museum-goer. These museums and galleries grabbed me the moment I walked through the door and I highly recommend them to even the most museum- or gallery-averse.

Best Bites title

Apricot artisan gelato in Avignon
Apricot artisan gelato in Avignon

These meals made me sound like a broken record, capable only of crying “I just don’t want it to end”…while stuffing my face. You can’t have your cake and eat it, unfortunately. Details included, where I can remember them (I wasn’t always such a good note-taker).

  • Dinner at The Old Church, Mount Tamborine | Gold Coast, Australia
  • Libertine, Brisbane | Australia
  • Burma Lane, Melbourne | Australia
  • Under the Rialto Bridge, Venice – the meal was okay, but the view of was unforgettable.
  • Slow pizza in Sorrento | Campania, Italy
  • Tropical Fruit Ice Cream in the Daintree | Tropical North Queensland, Australia
  • That duck in Paris’ 16th arrondissement | France
  • Apricot Gelato in Avignon. The best gelato I’ve ever tasted! | Provence, France
  • The panna cotta in Levanto | Liguria, Italy
  • That crazy tropical salad I had in Saint Germain | Paris, France
  • Any crepe in Paris that I have ever eaten | France

wildlife & nature title

Whale

Scenic Journeys Title

Vernazza

  • Waterfall Way, New South Wales (Australia)
  • Kuranda Scenic Railway & Skyrail, Queensland (Australia)
  • Driving through Champagne (France)
  • Amalfi Coast Drive
  • Taking the Eurail through France and Italy
  • The short boat ride from Levanto to Vernazza, Cinque Terre (pictured)

Top Tours title

A guide can make or break your experience. I’ve had some amazing local guides, who can give you so much more than you could find in guidebooks or the Internet.

  • Paris Vision – Champagne Daytrip
  • Tour of Ancient Ephesus – This was a locally-guided tour, arranged by Contiki. I wish I had the guide’s details, she was excellent.
  • Bateaux Mouches Seine Cruise – it’s touristy, but you get such beautiful views of Paris. Loved it!
  • Daintree River Croc Cruise – hilarious, informative and at some points, a little scary!
  • Pompeii Tour Guide
  • The walking tour of Rome’s historic centre, led by our Contiki Guide who is a local. I’ve taken walking tours before, and her passion for history, storytelling and her city made such a difference. Thank you Maite!

Best Accommodation Title

Loveliest Locals

This section might not have a lot of “use” but it’s important to me. It’s too easy to forget the friendly faces who lended a helping hand or lifted my spirits along the way.

Faith in humanity? Restored.

The elegant“femme d’un certain age” in Rome, who was eating alone, just like me. After her meal, she approached my table excitedly, to tell me that I looked like the Madonna painted by a famous Italian painter. My Italian was exceptionally basic at the time, so I half-grasped what she was saying and asked her to write down the rest, for later Googling. I see no resemblance between myself and the Madonna, but it was a memorable and sweet encounter. Read more about this tourist-free (apart from me!) restaurant in the Parioli neighbourhood, here.

Alejandro & his grandmother, who I was sitting with on the train from Milan to Verona – Six year old Alejandro was very patient with me as he taught me how to play games with him in Italian (which I do not speak very well), and his grandmother spoke to me in French about how she did a similar trip to the one I was on, when she was a young woman.

Milo, a philosophy student in Paris –Without him, I would probably have wound up taking a nap on my suitcase in the forest at Cite Universite, rather than finding my building. Who said the French are rude? He saw me wandering around looking lost and gave me directions. I confused “droite” for “droit”, so I turned right rather than walked straight ahead, and found myself in a forest. He saw me again, from across the campus, and jogged over and decided it was best to walk me to my building. A million thank yous.

PS – Who made two directions sound so similar?!

The student who showed me to my room, when I was completely confused by the numbering system in my new building. Yes, as soon as I got inside my building, I was again lost and relying on the kindness of strangers.

The many, many strangers who kindly offered to carry my suitcase up the stairs at train stations all over Europe. Special shout out to the guy in Paris who carried my case for what felt like miles through one of the largest stations.

Nicola, our super lovely host at Villa Clelia in Levanto, who drew us a map to help us find the best restaurants in town.

The Turkish shop owner who hooked us up with a cheap and delicious lunch at his friend’s restaurant

The woman in Melbourne who let me just speak to her, when a crazy guy was harassing me (and following me) off the tram. The couple who saw my distress, and offered to walk with me for a few blocks till he was gone.

The French woman who doubled back to help my lift my suitcase out of the turnstile in Paris. I was jetlagged and of weak upper body strength. Thank you for minimizing my public humiliation!

The people of Athens, for being warm, welcoming and resilient while their city all but crumbles around them. You would have been forgiven for being haughty to hide your embarrassment, or too tired to find a smile. Instead you wer

The policeman in Milan, who very patiently helped us operate the Metro ticket machin

The elderly gentleman in St James Park in London, who helped my little brother feed the squirrels. It made his day!

The elderly gentlemen on the streets of Paris, who stopped to say hello to my little brother at a crossing and told him he spoke French beautifully. He didn’t know that Pierce had been practicing “Bonjour” “Merci” and “Au revoir” so much that he’d started saying them in his sleep. He was thrilled.

The pilots who took my little brother to the cockpit on the flight into London. Made a very bored and tired little boy’s day!

The restaurant owner in Florence, who told us to slow down when we eat. You were right.

Every French person who has tolerated my very basic French

Every person who spoke to me in English, when I was in their country and couldn’t speak the language. Many travelers treat speaking in English as their right, not a privilege, when they are abroad. Thanks for being patient.

What’s in your travelling hall of fame?