My All Time Top Ten… Holidays


1. Cote D’Azur, France

cote-dazur-france

Photo credit: me!

Let’s get one thing straight first off – I am an avid Francophile. I’d love to live there. But I love to holiday there more! Since I was first able to travel on my own I’ve been travelling south through France.

It’s all very easy to say the Cote D’Azur, but just back from the coast line also included is some of the finest parts of Provence and the Alpes Maritime.

Amongst the Villages Perche and the Corniches there are still many hidden gems; The Gorge Du Loup et Du Verdon create a huge dynamic to the area; and the coastline is beautifully alluring.

I have so many favourite memories of many different locations along the coast: from Carqueiranne in the West, through Hyeres, St Tropez, Cannes, Antibes old town and port, Vence, Grasse, Nice, Eze, and Monaco in the East. If I had to pick one it would probably be a shadey campsite on the Gorge du Loup – with a lovely quiet pool and just a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of the Riviera.

2. Poros, Greece

poros-greece

Photo credit: Grzegorz Rogala

A family favourite since for as long as I can remember, this gem of Greek island is just an hour away from Athens, and therefore the best comprimise of accessibility and remoteness.

As a boy I remember being delighted by the way that large cruise ships moor right up by the side of the road that runs round the bustling quayside.

Poros is the St Tropez of Greece. It’s a favourite for he multimillion drachma yachts out of Athens, and an easy stop off point for flotillas of luxury sailing vessels.

We always stay at the Hotel Saga (no not the OAP holiday firm!). Zefi & Takis are our welcoming hosts, and from here you can stroll either just down to the bay at the end of the road for an asortment of lovely waterside rstaurants or take the lovely warm stroll round to Poros town and take in many of the gelaterias, tavernas and bars that line the port side and run up into the narrow lanes of the tiny white washed hillside town.

Just don’t go going there and spoiling it!

3. Sierra Nevada, Spain

sierra-nevada

Photo credit: me!

As made famous by Ernest Hemmingway (South from Granada) and Chris Stewart (Driving Over Lemons) the hills on the south side of the Sierra Nevada mountains to the south of Granada contain an extraordinary area of beauty called Las Alpujarras.

Travelling around Eruope for 5 months in 1994 my then girlfriend Helen Parker and I discovered this beautifully peaceful and completely remote area in our old Mercedes campervan and fell in love with it instantly.

It’s the highest populated area of Europe, has the highest village in Europe, and also the highest traversable mountain crossing in Europe.

Indeed it is the temptation of that mountain crossing over the top of the Sierra Nevada (passable June to September) that draws you higher and higher towards the snow line. On that occasion we drove up to the end of the tarmac. I carried on on mountain bike, up into the snow, to a point at which I realised I could go no further without serious weather gear and a tent. Right at that moment a 4×4 drove past – lights on, wipers going and covered in mud – and I knew I had to return one day.

But it is the absolute peace and tranquility and the amazing views across to the African coast (yes – that’s 100 miles and only just viewable in the haze free light of dawn) that allow it to feature on this list.

4. Le Touquet, France

le-touquet

Photo credit: graphistolage

It may be the north coast of France, and i may have only been there once, but I am going back this year, and fell in love with the place instantly.

My girlfriend Lucy and her dad Frank introduced my son Archie and I to this great seaside resort in the summer 0f 2009. It’s one of those places easily left off the list, but such a fun place to experience.

We camp, and take a little free electric bus ride into town, have steak frites in the grid system maze of little seaside shopping streets, and then head down to the mile wide, 20 mile long beach with a good spade to wait for the tide to start to chase you in.

Roll on the summer :)

5. Blakeney, Norfolk

blakeney-norfolk

Photo credit: James Thorpe

Another family favourite Blakeney is a place close to the hearts of the Aldisses as my mother owned a flat on the quay front for a decade. Our family trips started years before that though with stays in various random rented accommodation including the wonderful ‘grannery’ flat at the end of the High Street with a gorgeous bay window overlooking the quay itself.

Anyone who knows North Norfolk will know how gorgeously remote the countryside becomes as soon as you are off the A roads. I always have a boyish excitement about returning – something to do with the winding lanes and unbridged fords!

There are the obvious highlights – Holkham Beach, Burnham Market (the Hoste Arms, etc), Holt, Wells, Cromer et al – but there are also hidden gems like The Three Horsehoes at Warham, The Princess Victoria at Holkham, the back road of the drive through Holkham Hall, Brancaster beach, Satchells wine shop Burnham Market, Larners of Holt, Picnic Fayre at Cley.

6. New York, USA

new-york

Photo credit: paulmcdee

A stark contrast to Blakeney but nevertheles as appealing – if you have been, why not? New York for me is a city of dynamics – from the scale of the building to the long nights, the great distances across town, the huge department stores, the massive nightclubs, the bass lines.

I’ve done several trips. I’ve stayed in different types of accommodation – on friends floors, in rented apartments, hostels and hotels. I’ve had photos snapped in a booth at the top of the World Trade Centre and ridden the roller coaster at the top of the Empire State.

I’ve eat at De Niro’s, drank at far too many bars, danced at Giant Step and The Bowery, shopped on Canal Street and hung out in Grenwich Village…

It’s all good baby :)

7. California (San Francisco), USA

death-valley-california

Photo credit: me!

Road trips are semantically linked with the USA. As a film fan, or someone who reads it’s inevitable that you’ll stumble across classics like The Blues Brothers, The Hitcher, Vanishing Point and Zen And The Art Of Motor Cycle Maintenance, so it is only natural to take a raod trip at some point.

For the 4 of us (my partner and a couple who were good friends of ours) decided to take a trip to see San Francisco before hiring a 34ft long Winnebago and touring California and Nevada. Within 30 minutes of hiring this enormous vehicle we were driving over the Golden Gate Bridge in it on our way north to Sonoma and Napa Valley – awesome!

We toured shadey Yosemite, cruised through the heat of Death Valley, and rolled into Las Vegas. We camped in metal hospital car parks, slept on the roof and tail gated 18 wheelers, and generally rock and rolled around in the back.

8. Paris, France

paris-france

Photo credit: · skëne ·

The epitome of France (when one can stand such intense doses of it) is Paris. The flavours, smells, sights and sounds are all so intense. But there are also many hidden gems even in central Paris.

It would be hard to sum up my favourite parts, memories and moments, but those that stand out are in memory tend to be the ones that I couldn’t possibly name or locate! Places like the huge vaulted restaurant with the most surly waiters in France whom it is highly unwise to attempt to be served by as tourists, or the one where a 30 minute cab ride removed all sense of orientation before we entered through draped doors to have to wait for a table mid restaurant with a dose of white wine in such a petit verre… So don’t go to Le Pied au Cochon but look for local recommendations and pick those that look closed don alley ways!

9. Langkawi, Malaysia

langkawi-malaysia

Photo credit: Katia.G

I’ve decided that I prefer to fly East than West when I long haul. Pick Thailand or Malaysia and you can’t much go wrong, but for us Langkawi has the perfect balance of remote beach resorts, local villages and therefore arts and crafts, lush jungles, and is a good size to explore in a hire car when you get bored of sunbathing!

Langkawi is home to The Datai, which is a luxury ex-collonial style jungle top 5 star spa resort, it’s gorgeous sleek, locally sourced design, blending into the surrounding jungle habitat.

10. Maldives

maldives

Photo credit: deckchair

The Maldives almost appears on the list ironically. I mean it has to be on any top ten, right. Now I haven’t been to the Seychelles, or Mauritius, but you’d expect the same experience right – amazing luxury, powdery white sands, and incredible warmth all evening – and this is exactly what you get in the Maldives.

We holidayed in a mid to high luxury resort island called Kuramanthi. It had several hotels up it’s shadey spine, but was only half a kilometer wide by a few long. And it is exactly what the doctor ordered – amazing beaches quite literally all round the island that you could walk if you wanted, beautifuly perched bars, restaurants and spas overlooking the most amazing translucent seas. And the sunsets were to die for – an amazing place, that once seen in a movie you know at some stage you just have to go and visit. It won’t disappoint.

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I found this list surprisingly hard to compile. I mean apart from anything I  haven’t been everywhere in the world, so this isn’t like a top ten world destinations or anything! There are also a number of other holidays/destinations just off the list, including the following:

Kilimanjaro!
The Tarn, France
Thailand – Ko Similan Islands and Ko Lanta

…more to come :)

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