Top travel destinations

Some of my favourite spots on the map


Now that Christmas and New Year are behind us – it’s a good time to start thinking about one of my favourite things – holidays!  While Manchester is brilliant – it’s nice to explore further afield. And it’s particularly splendid to have Manchester Airport right on our doorstep.

We’ve all got our favourite places – but I thought if I shared some of mine, it might give you a bit of globe trotting inspiration and get you in the mood for a travel adventure in 2013.


Great Ocean Road - Australia


Grand Palace Bangkok


Often, when I travel I’ll get a moment of blinding clarity, where I’ll see a map of the world in my mind – then a little red dot and a flashing arrow, with the words YOU ARE HERE.

When you are in the midst of an adventure, it’s easy to forget to take a step back and remember just where abouts in the world you are. Seeing where I am on the map in my mind – well it always makes me shiver.


So today I’ve been thinking about some of my favourite spots in the world.


These are places where, instead of rushing around I’ve just taken some time to be, and think and take stock. Here are some that are definitely on my list.


Franz Joseph – South Island New Zealand


The water in the river flowed straight from the glaciers across a valley of shale.

The west coast of New Zealand has such lush primitive forests – every colour of green drips from every available foothold.

I’d travelled by bus that day from Queenstown across the Southern Alps along the Haast Pass.  It’s probably the most beautiful journey I’ve ever done.

Later that day I took a helicopter flight across the glaciers and around Mt Cook. When we landed on the mountains, I walked on the top of the world. To the left I could see the Tasman Sea, to the right the South Pacific. I could see right across New Zealand.

That day was the fifth anniversary of losing my mum. I wanted to do something special to mark the occasion – I did that in spades! The reflections in the church window was testament to the fact that no stained glass is required when you have a view like this.


Franz Joseph New Zealand


Each block of snow was the height of a sky scraper, and it was like walking on top of the world  – in this photo I’m looking over the South Pacific.


Franz Joseph New Zealand



Bay of Plenty – Matacawalevu, Fiji Islands


Bula! While Bay of Plenty wasn’t the prettiest place I stayed when I went island hopping across the Yasawa group of Islands just off the Fijian coast, it was the furthest flung and just a precious, beautiful, friendly special place.


Bay of plenty Fiji


That morning I’d boarded the Yasawa Flyer and headed towards the horizon.

I was mortified when I discovered my precious back pack being flung over the side of the boat into a small wooden canoe with a motor on the back less powerful than my hair dryer.

I was even more mortified when I realised that I was headed the same way. But I went for it and over the next 48 hours morphed from a stressed out traveller into probably the most chilled out I’ve ever been.

Bay of Plenty was situated amongst mangrove swamps, so every day (if I wanted) they’d whizz me in their little boat to one of the near by islands.

Then at lunch time they’d appear again bringing me my lunch across the waves. It wasn’t fancy – it was just genuinely hospitable.



Vancouver – British Columbia, Canada


Vancouver frequently tops the list of most desirable cities to live in, and I have to say I’m fully in agreement. It’s got mountains and the sea and oozes healthy livability.

Vancouver provided the back drop for a dramatic re-union. I’d booked my round the world ticket a month before I met Tris (hubby), and although I delayed my departure I still left him standing at Manchester Airport with neither of us knowing what the future held. Five months later he flew out to Vancouver to meet me before travelling across the Rockies to Calgary together.




I was so excited to see him again, and the fact that our reunion coincided with the international fireworks championships I class as non-coincidental!


Vancouver fireworks


Vancouver is a beautiful, fresh city which ever since has stayed firmly at the top of my ‘If I were to emigrate …….’ list of places to live.




 While I’ve been writing this, I’ve realised that this list is far too short.

There are so many more places that I need to include:

  • Montreux on the banks of Lake Geneva.
  • My friend’s house in a small village in the Poitou Charentes that I spent many holidays helping to renovate.
  • The club in Mombassa where I danced to ‘London Beat’ with the locals in 1991 and drank Guinness which cost 13p a bottle.
  • Paris, Prague, Amsterdam, Pompeii, all of Northern Spain, New York, Charleston in South Carolina, the island of Iona in Scotland, The Yorkshire Dales, driving the Great Ocean Road from Adelaide to Melbourne …………


The list goes on. I’m not saying this to show off, but to say how much I love to travel and how lucky I’ve been over the years. Don’t ever invite me to come and stay – because the chances are, I will take you up on it.


Enjoy planning your adventures – where do you fancy for 2013.


Alison x  (your 4Manchester Women Editor)


Photographs: Alison Staples

This is not a sponsored blog post.









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One thought on “Top travel destinations

  1. Nice suggestions, I would like to add one more place Niagara Falls. I visited Niagara Falls last year and it is also one of the leading tourist destination in the world. its amazing natural water falling views, lots of attractions, parks, events and festivals make this place perfect tourist destination.

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