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Post-lockdown holiday wish list inspiration

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While we must all stay home for the time being, at least we can (and should!) dream of where we will travel once lockdowns have been lifted. We’ve asked some of our clients where they are looking forward to going for their next holiday:


When it is eventually wise to travel abroad again, my wife Michelle and I will be keen to re-visit the island of Madeira. It has scarcely changed since my first visit (as a child) in 1970 – people are really friendly, the climate is lovely and it’s perfect for a relaxing holiday. An easy way to appreciate the beauty of the island is to take the cable car from Funchal up to Monte. The absence of nightlife or family entertainment is particularly appealing to us!


Well, after watching the sun setting over the Tyrrhenian Sea at Tellaro or Fiascherino, or making a passeggiata and taking an aperitivo in Florence, Venice or Rome (or a dozen other Italian cities), Lois and I love Istanbul, for its marvellous mixture of East and West, Europe and Asia. The architecture is stunning, whether it is Greek, Roman or Ottoman, the food is delicious, and the welcome is warm. We could travel all day on the water bus from the Galata Bridge and the Golden Horn, up the Bosphorus to the Black Sea, past the Sultan’s Summer Palace, a crusader castle and the white-painted, clapperboard waterside Yali mansions, zigzagging between Europe and Asia, sipping çay and eating Turkish Delight.


This year, as every year, family Wake have firmly inked in their diaries an expedition to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides, where we will once again enjoy the privilege of wandering along miles of deserted sandy beaches and beautiful unspoilt landscapes that run between the hills in the east and the North Atlantic coast in the west. It’s a 687 mile drive from our home in Hampshire to Uig, on the north west corner of the Isle of Skye, and the moment I set foot on the Caledonian MacBrayne ferry, bound for Lochmaddy, is the moment any troubles are left far behind.

You are guaranteed a very warm welcome from the locals, but over-tourism has never been an issue in Uist. You might find one or two very discerning travellers who relish the opportunity to embrace a slow holiday, where locally-sourced lobster from our favourite island fisherman, combined with fresh air, the occasional glass of imported wine and the odd dram, all help to complete the picture. Will my favourite patch of Northern Marsh Orchids and Hart’s Tongue Fern be able to wait for our return? Will the small flock of Oystercatchers greet me with their piping when we make our first walk down to the shore? I do hope so.


As a Spaniard, I am really missing the convivial Spanish way of life – long, lazy lunches accompanied by excellent sherry. As soon as I can, I will be heading to Jerez for a weekend to visit my favourite sherry houses, eat tapas in tiny, welcoming tapas bars, and walk the streets admiring the beautiful Gothic architecture.


After spending far too much time indoors, I’ll be heading off in search of wide open spaces. Nowhere fits the bill better than Northern Finland, Sweden and Norway, so a road trip along the Northern Lights Route from Tornio in Finland to Tromso in Norway would meet the brief.

From Tornio, the route crosses regularly from Finland to Sweden and back again. Gradually, the gentle lake, forest and fell scenery recedes as the road continues north into the more rugged uplands of the Enontekio Region and Kilpisjarvi, a place where reindeer outnumber humans and Sami culture holds sway to this day. At Kilpisjarvi, the road reaches the very top of Finland in dramatic fashion with the imposing bulk of Saana Hill (it’s not quite a mountain) overlooking the small town, and the long and wide expanse of its eponymous lake.

A little further on I might visit the point where Sweden, Finland and Norway meet, before the long descent beneath towering Norwegian peaks towards the fjords, coastal islands and sparkling city lights of Tromso. ‘The Paris of the North’ has some fabulous restaurants and, after lockdown and a long but unforgettable drive, I think I’ll be due a top notch meal.

Tromso - Artisan Travel
Tromso – Artisan Travel


One of the first places I’m keen to return to is Tikal in Guatemala. An ancient city immersed in the jungle – what’s not to love? Tikal National Park is part of the one million hectare Maya Biosphere Reserve, created in 1990 to protect the dense forests of the Peten. Tikal encompasses a whopping 575 square kilometres of dense jungle and thousands of fascinating ruined structures.

Guatemala Sunvil
Guatemala – Sunvil Latin America


I had planned a holiday with my wife Linda, in April, to go on an overland tour to Victoria Falls and down to Cape Town, with Tucan Travel. I have been to South Africa before on a small group tour with Explore, taking in Rourkes Drift, Kwazulu Natal and Kruger. That was an amazing trip and I wanted to do something a little different this time, to see other parts of Southern Africa.

We are not bucket and spade travellers, but the typical AITO traveller in terms of age and what we want from our holiday. We want something organised for us that takes in a wide variety of experiences and places, and gives us the chance to give something back to the local community. The opportunity to visit the famous falls, white water raft on the Zambezi, do a little bit of a safari, drink in local culture and take a trip to Robben Island was a huge temptation. We will therefore plan to do it next Easter, as I am not sure I can convince Linda to go on a British & Irish Lions Rugby tour to South Africa in July!


What has become evident throughout lockdown, and being allowed out for the daily exercise routine, is just how much I have been enjoying nature. I have particularly loved seeing the wild garlic, bluebells and other wildflowers, and having deer, foxes, pheasants and many other animals almost within touching distance. I would therefore love to be able to re-explore the Lake District to discover the Fells, Lakes and stunning scenery, and to really appreciate these spaces once again through the seasons, as it is all too easy to take them for granted. Further afield, and once air travel and potential quarantine rules are relaxed, Thailand is very much high on the agenda. I have only been there once, and my visit was far too short.


For me, a return to Corfu and Paxos would be on the cards. I have been connected with these islands since I was 19 and I am drawn back to them on numerous occasions every year. I love the Ionian islands for a number of reasons: the day-to-day randomness that is chaotic, but no one ever gets stressed (well, nothing a drink and a good meal wouldn’t sort), which is such a contrast from the UK. The importance of friends and family first – something that, again, has tended to fade in the UK. The Greek way… there is always a way around a problem even if it is unorthodox. Corfu and Paxos in particular offer something around every corner, from the stunning sunsets and sunrises to a donkey and yaya making their way through an olive grove, and the men sitting outside the traditional cafeneon. If I were to go further afield, I would love to explore Latin America on the back of the ‘Race across the World’ series.


After this is over, I will try to head to the Arctic for some headspace. There is nothing better than the purest Arctic air, the widest of views and a sense of isolation to enable you to reconnect with yourself and nature. I have always promised my husband a trip to northern Norway (the Lofoten, Senja and the Lyngen Alps) – wild camping mixed with some hotels – maybe this is the time to fulfil the dream. I know my three-year-old would absolutely love the freedom too.


I can’t wait to get back to the wilds of northern Kenya and the Maasai Mara ecosystem. There are some wonderful camps that I’m looking forward to visiting for the first time, like the new Mara Nyika Camp in the amazing Naboisho Conservancy. And, there’s a camp on the shores of Lake Turkana, Lobolo Camp, way up in the desert close to the Ethiopian border, that I would love to see. Closer to home, I’ve been stocking up on Bradt Travel Guides (they have a 50% off COVID-19 special offer) including ‘A Summer of British Wildlife’ by James Lowen – a day-by-day guide to wildlife days out around the UK. Day 47, June 30, tells you where to go to see purple emperor butterflies, a creature that I’ve always wanted to see. Further afield in Africa, I’m determined to return one day to Sierra Leone. I toured it extensively by mountain bike when writing the Rough Guide to West Africa, and it has some of the most beautiful beaches and forests anywhere on the continent. Finally, I would like to tick off a bucket list destination, São Tomé & Príncipe, a jewel of an archipelago in the Gulf of Guinea.


Personally, the first place I can’t wait to visit is Corfu. This is where it all started for CV, and where we have our overseas office, so we’ve been sent some beautiful pictures and been kept up to date with how things have been there. They’ve seemingly managed the pandemic very well and, as of this week, have come out of lockdown and are enjoying a return to some kind of normality. I can’t wait to be able to people watch once again, whilst enjoying a drink on the Liston in Corfu Town, and enjoy a seafood souvlaki at my favourite restaurant, The Old School Restaurant, in Kassiopi. We sincerely hope that we’ll be able to travel to this beautiful island in the not so distant future.


Like many of us whose lives are usually lived at a relentless pace, I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to slow down during the lockdown, to take time to reflect and to enjoy the simple pleasure of sitting in my garden with a cup of tea… or something stronger! Once we’re able to travel again, I’d really like to return to France and its tranquil waterways, where it’s possible to spend lazy days seeing very few others. And the scenery is spectacular. I went on my first barge holiday last year, and it was wonderful. There’s very little to beat sipping a glass of Champagne as you glide along the canal, with the promise of a delicious meal to follow, which the on-board crew is preparing while you soak up the early evening sunshine. Bliss.

St Emilion - Jules Verne
St Emilion – Jules Verne


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