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It really has been a great ride! Over ten years ago my husband and I started to travel extensively, once we became empty-nesters. Looking back we have had some incredible travel experiences, and then some that were not so good. Here I list our 10 years of travel: best and worst.
We travelled to Phuket in 2009 for a 50th birthday celebration and had a ball in this Thailand island paradise. However when we returned in 2010 we found it to be a little seedy, smelly and dirty. Phuket showed signs of neglect and overdevelopment, with poor sanitation and plastic pollution on the beaches in Patong.
Koh Samui, another island off the east coast of Thailand, we also found to be a little overrated. In our opinion the beaches here weren’t that attractive, particularly where we stayed at Lamai Beach. However if you’re into a relaxing resort-style type holiday then you would really enjoy Koh Samui and Phuket. Both islands do offer world-class resorts with wonderful amenities and the Thai food is delicious. As are cocktails on the beach.
The USA is an eye-opener for first time travellers. We had visited Las Vegas on our way home from a skiiing holiday at Whistler, Canada, a few years earlier. However this time around we spent a week in each of these iconic USA cities. Every one very different from the other.
San Francisco was in a word – fabulous. The cable cars, steepest street in the world, Fisherman’s Wharf, Alcatraz, Golden Gate Bridge, across the bay towns of Sausalito and Tiburon and a day trip out to Yosemite National Park, kept us entertained during our week here. We loved this city.
The most populous city in USA, New York was incredible. We had an absolute ball here visiting the many sights of the city, including: Central Park, Empire State Building, World Trade Centre ruins, Broadway, Statue of Liberty, Times Square, Wall Street, Central Station, Ellis Island and the Brooklyn Bridge, to name a few.
The glitz and glamour of Las Vegas the second time around, did not do it for us. We did however enjoy a day trip out to Hoover Dam and the Grand Canyon. We also enjoyed two fantastic shows, that are very popular in Las Vegas, at a couple of different hotels. The Bellagio Hotel nightly fountain show and Mirage volcano show were a must see. As are the upmarket designer shopping malls in a couple of the resort hotels.
I feel so fortunate that we visited Turkey in 2012 when it was still safe to do so. I will go out on a limb and say that this country, where east meets west, is by far my favourite travel experience. Turkey was an absolute revelation and ticked all the boxes for me.
We spent a few days in the exciting capital city of Istanbul seeing the sights such as the Blue Mosque, Bosphorus River, Hagia Sophia, Topkapi Palace, Grand Bizaar, Spice Bizaar, Hippodrome and Galata.
Travelling to Gallipoli on a two day bus tour was a highly emotive and educational experience. We also toured the ancient ruins of Troy and spent two nights in the interesting town of Canakkale on the Dardanelles.
We met up with our son and girlfriend in Canakkale and travelled with them in their campervan down the scenic Turquoise Coast of Turkey. Highlights included: Pergamon Greek ruins, Kusadasi, Ephesus Greek/Roman ruins, a 3 night yacht cruise around the Gocek Islands, Fethiye, Bodrum, Kas and inland to Pammukale thermal pools and ruins.
A trip up to Far North Queensland to Cairns and Port Douglas was a big highlight. Although I’m not that fond of Cairns as a city, I did enjoy day trips to Kuranda, the northern beaches of Palm Cove and Trinity Beach, and the beautiful Cairns Esplanade Lagoon and markets.
Following a few days in Cairns we hired a car and drove up to Port Douglas. This beach resort town is renowned for its upmarket resorts, golf courses, big yachts and is the gateway to the Daintree.
My husband enjoyed a diving trip out to the Great Barrier Reef, whilst I enjoyed a walk along the long stretch of beach and some shopping. The next day we set off to Mossman Gorge, an eco cruise on the Daintree River and drive through the Daintree Rainforest up to Cape Tribulation.
We had made the big decision in the latter part of 2013 that we were going to buy a new caravan, quit our jobs and set off on a lap around Australia. From the Gold Coast in Queensland we headed south along the New South Wales coast to Victoria and then across to South Australia. By Easter we were trekking across the Nullarbor to West Australia where we spent the bulk of our time.
Throughout the dry winter months of June and July, we were in northern West Australia and the Kimberley. Then we crossed the border into the Northern Territory to the town of Katherine, before we headed south as far as Tenant Creek. Here we veered due east and re-entered Queensland where we explored the outback before reaching the coastline at Rockhampton.
Our seven month long trip was epic and something that I would highly recommend to all Australians. There is so much countryside, wide open spaces, expanses of wilderness and spectacular coastline to discover.
Our first ever cruise departed from New Orleans in the deep south of USA and was certainly one to remember. I had mixed feelings about embarking on a cruise. I get seasick easily and I wondered whether I’d be bored during the long at sea days. However I was fine.
After a few days in New Orleans seeing the sights, we sailed out on the Mississippi River into the Gulf of Mexico with two stops in Mexico, Belize, Roatan Honduras, Aruba, Caracao, St Martin/St Maarten, and St Thomas, US Virgin Islands. The cruise ship then set off along the east coast of America to the city of Boston.
We spent a few days in Boston before catching a train down to New York, where we spent another week. We found Boston to be a wonderful city with plenty to do and see with its interesting history and the Boston Tea Party.
New York we once again discovered as a fantastic, fast-paced and pulsing city. This time we explored Coney Island, Brooklyn, Harlem and took in a baseball game in the Bronx.
Our second foray into cruising wasn’t as enjoyable as the first, but we did enjoy some of the destinations. After a couple of days in Singapore, which is always enjoyable, we stopped in the Malaysian ports of Penang, Kuala Lumpur and the islands of Langkawi. The standout here was a day exploring lovely Langkawi.
We returned to Singapore for a day and then set out again to Brunei, ports of Nha Trang and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam, Sihanoukville in Cambodia, Bangkok and Koh Samui in Thailand.
The downside of the South East Asian cruise was that some of the ports were hours away from the actual destinations. In particular, Ho Chi Minh City, Kuala Lumpur and Bangkok. Otherwise the other destinations provided plenty of interesting sightseeing.
I did get to return to South East Asia to Bangkok and Krabi in Thailand on a girl’s holiday in 2016. I really enjoyed the busy, overcrowded and buzzing city of Bangkok and a day trip out to see the River Kwai. Then a week relaxing at Aonang Beach in Krabi was rejuvenating, but possibly too long with little to do in this Thai beachside town.
I was fortunate to snag a media trip to Japan in 2016. It was a gruelling itinerary that saw our group of bloggers and travel writers tour Tohoku, Hokkaido and Tokyo in 6 days. My small taste of Japan did however give me a thirst to return for more and it is still on my bucket list.
The year of 2017 was a special big birthday for me, so I chose to travel to Italy and board a Mediterranean Cruise with a group of friends. Starting with a few days in Rome, we then cruised to Sicily, Malta, Gozo, Corfu, Montenegro, the Croatian ports of Dubrovnik, Split and Korcula, Slovenia and back to Venice.
Following the cruise we took 3 weeks touring Italy to wondrous places like Lake Como, Cinque Terre, Tuscany and the Amalfi Coast. Apart from Turkey this holiday rated very highly on my travel list. Italy is divine!
Later in 2017 we travelled to Vietnam on our second trip here to Ho Chi Minh City, Hoi An, Hanoi and Sapa. This was followed by four days in Luang Prabang in Laos which was an absolute incredible place to visit. Vietnam is a firm favourite of mine that I highly recommend to any traveller.
We stayed a little closer to home in 2018 and took our caravan down to the Murray River where we traced it all the way to South Australia. A big highlight was a week on Kangaroo Island, a natural wonderland and magical island to explore.
Later in 2018 we embarked on a New Zealand cruise departing out of Auckland and visiting ports at Bay of Islands, Tauranga, Akaroa, Napier, Wellington, Dunedin, and the sounds of Dusky, Doubtful and Milford, before sailing back to Sydney. We found this to be a wonderful cruise and I must say that New Zealand has a lot to offer travellers.
I’ve often wondered what all the fuss was about Bali. Despite this I have actually travelled to Bali on two brief holidays, once on a trip with my daughter and the other with my husband. In 2019 I decided to do a girl’s health retreat to Bali and must say that it was sublime.
We stayed in Ubud partaking in healthy pastimes like yoga, spiritual healing, hiking, cycling and eating some tasty and healthy Indonesian food. After this cleansing week I spent a week in Nusa Dua at a 5 star resort with my husband. I saw a whole new side to Bali.
Later on in 2019 we did a Trip A Deal special to Sri Lanka and The Maldives. Admittedly it was a cheap holiday and also a group tour, which I’m not particularly fond of. Although long days on a bus with 20 other travellers was tiring and trying at times, we did enjoy our whirlwind tour of Sri Lanka.
The best part of this cheap holiday was four lovely days to relax on a stunning island paradise in The Maldives. Here we were left to our own devices and that suited me fine. However, four days was long enough to spend on an island that you could walk around in 10 minutes.
Although I returned to Bali early in 2020 for another girl’s retreat and week in Nusa Dua, Coronavirus and the overseas travel ban put a stop to our travel plans. We were to travel to Spain and Portugal in September, so hopefully we will get to do so within the next few years.
At the moment we aren’t confident about travelling too far afield. We have plans to do some travel within Australia in our caravan, including Far North Queensland and the Top End. We also would like to hire a campervan and see more of the North Island of New Zealand when the travel bubble opens between Australia and NZ.
High on my overseas travel bucket list are: South America, more of Europe, England and Scotland, Canada/Alaska, Japan and Tahiti. Fingers crossed we will all get to travel safely again to explore this big wonderful world of ours. What’s on your travel bucket list?
Kathy was a 50 something year old when she started up this blog 6 years ago, but has since turned over another decade and is now in her early 60s. She is married with two adult children and lives on the Tweed Coast of New South Wales, Australia. Kathy enjoys living life to the fullest and loves to keep fit and active by maintaining a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Some of her interests include reading, photography, travelling, cooking and blogging! Kathy works part-time as a freelance writer but her real passion is travelling and photographing brilliant destinations both within Australia and overseas and writing about it.
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