juliamhammond

My favourite travel spots

The trouble with not travelling when you’re obsessed with travel? You still eat, sleep, breathe it. My inbox and news feeds constantly offer suggestions on where I should go next. As my travel magazine subscriptions plop through the letterbox, there’s more. I’m really, really, struggling to resist Norwegian’s amazing fare deals to Puerto Rico. So what’s a girl to do? Reminisce, of course! Here are ten of my favourite places and the reasons why I chose them.

Favourite city: New York
This one’s a no-brainer. I love that iconic skyline, the variety within its neighbourhoods and the sheer energy of the place. Every time I go there’s something new to discover, from the hidden gems of the Bronx to ethnic eateries in Harlem and beyond. I could never get enough of the place.

Bears playing in the Bronx Zoo

Bears playing in the Bronx Zoo

Favourite beach: Port Salut
I travelled to Haiti with certain expectations, but despite its location in the middle of the Caribbean, that didn’t include great beaches. I was wrong. Port Salut beach had it all: glorious turquoise seas, white sand beaches and fabulous sunsets framed with palm trees. Best of all, most people don’t know about it yet.

The perfect place for doing nothing

The perfect place for doing nothing

Favourite wildlife experience: lions in Zambia
It’s not every day that when asked what you did that day you can say, “I took a lion for a walk”, but that’s exactly what I did in Zambia a couple of years ago. It was a surreal experience. I found myself forgetting that it was a lion and reverting to dog-walking mode, but fortunately lived to tell the tale.

Walking with lions, Zambia

Walking with lions, Zambia

Favourite natural phenomenon: watching the Northern Lights
Nature knows how to wow us and for me, the stand out show is to be found up beyond the Arctic Circle in a dark night sky. On a December trip to Tromso, Norway, we encountered cold like you’d never believe, but frozen feet were instantly forgotten when the sky dazzled us with shades of purple and green.

Northern Lights over the hills surrounding Tromso

Northern Lights over the hills surrounding Tromso

Favourite adrenaline rush activity: watching a volcano erupt
I do like volcanoes. I’ve been up close to the ash and smoke of a number of them in Ecuador, Nicaragua and Japan. But by far and away the best was ascending Mt Yasur on the Vanuatu island of Tanna. It was by far the most frightening experience I’ve ever had, but also the most awesome too – and for once that word’s the right one.

Mount Yasur erupts at dusk

Mount Yasur erupts at dusk

Favourite festival: Day of the Dead
It features in the latest Bond film, Spectre, and Mexico’s Day of the Dead is one of those festivals that becomes an immersive experience. I chose to participate in Oaxaca’s celebrations, and from helping to assemble an altar to visiting the atmospheric cemeteries, Dia de Muertos was an emotional and engaging event, as well as lots of fun.

The old cemetery at Xoxocotlan

The old cemetery at Xoxocotlan

Favourite place to wake up: Patagonia Camp
Last year we splurged on a lakefront ger in the Torres del Paine’s Patagonia Camp to celebrate our wedding anniversary. The weather forecasts depressed us with predictions of grey skies, but when it came to it, we were rewarded with stars visible through the roof’s circular window and pink skies at dawn.

Sunrise over Lago Toro

Sunrise over Lago Toro

Favourite people: Peruvians
Neighbouring Chile has scenery to die for, but it doesn’t have that killer-combination. You see, for me, it’s all about the people and Peruvians don’t just offer you a polite welcome, they embrace you in an enveloping hug. They’re more than a little potty, which just adds to the fun.

The bag hat lady at Kuelap

The bag hat lady at Kuelap

Favourite for culture: Japan
I’ve only been to this fascinating country once, but would love to go again. It’s a place where weird is normal: a place where you can buy square melons, get hot chicken and chips from a station vending machine and have to take a shower before you can get in the bath.

Gion matsuri

Gion matsuri

Favourite place to go walking: Austrian Tyrol
I first visited Austria at 9 months old, making several other trips as a child. Since then, as an adult I’ve found myself in the Tyrol several times. There’s just something about the place that I love: a combination of the fresh air, craggy mountain backdrops, geranium-adorned wooden chalets and excellent walking paths. Last time, I took the dog, and aside from getting him into the gondola, he loved it too.

My walking companion, Einstein

My walking companion, Einstein

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