Many of you know that I’ve recently had another major surgery for severe endometriosis — and so to say that I’m missing travel is a massive understatement! I was in the operating theatre for almost 8 hours and had a bowel resection. I’m six weeks post op now and it’s going to take me a bit longer to fully heal. Even then I will need to take it easy and watch what I eat and drink. So, I’ve been thinking a great deal about my favourite countries and there are 7 that I know I will always return to as a traveller. I’d love to share those with you today…
My 7 Favourite Countries as a Traveller
I really don’t know how I managed to get well into my 30’s before I visited Thailand. I guess that it’s because everyone was doing it — I always did want to be different! But when I finally got to Thailand at the age of 38, I LOVED it!
The main draw for me as Templeseeker is the fabulous Thai temples such as the Blue Temple Chiang Mai, the White temple and Wat Doi Suthep. I adore Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Sukhothai historical park of course — ancient Buddhist stupas and Buddha statues always float my boat!
Let’s be clear on Bangkok — I’m not a fan of Thailand’s capital due to the noise, traffic and smog pollution that isn’t great if you suffer from Asthma. But there are some amazing temples in Bangkok and fab places to explore such as Chinatown, so I love to use Bangkok as a stepping stone to the fabulous destinations in Thailand.
Thailand Travel Tip — Get an Airalo Thailand eSIM and download the GRAB App to your phone for ordering taxis — pay the right price and avoid the scams!
Thailand is MASSIVE, with every town and city full of temples and culture. I’ve spent a month in Thailand, but there are so many places in Thailand that I haven’t yet explored including Phuket, Patthaya and Kon Kaen.
Thai Food — AMAZING!
The people — AMAZING!
The temples — OUT. OF. THIS. WORLD!
Thailand is one place that I will return to time and time again — I just can’t get enough of this place!
NEXT DESTINATION MY LIST — Phuket
Read my article on Solo Travel Thailand and why you should totally go for it
I’ve been to Italy three times in my life now, and still have the desire to return! My favourite Italian city is Florence for sure. Oh, the art and the Duomo. I also love Venice, Milan, Bergamo, Verona and Pisa (check out my article on Piazza dei Miracoli).
Italy — it’s where the language of love is spoken — yes, cat calling has never sounded so romantic! 😂
The Churches and Cathedrals of Italy are out of this world. Italy is home to the Vatican — an independent state within Rome and home to the Pope and centre of the Roman Catholic Church. Don’t miss a trip to the Sistine Chapel.
But get this….There are OVER 900 CHURCHES IN ROME ALONE!
This is what makes it one of my favourite countries. And being close to UK with direct flights to Manchester and London, it’s very accessible to me from my home base.
Italy Travel Tip — Book your Italy trains in advance using Trenitalia.com.
So you see, if little town and village needs a long weekend to explore the winding roads, visit the Churches and sample the local cuisine. There are so many places in the South that I haven’t yet explored.
Food — Pizza and Pasta -CHECK!
Language of Love — CHECK!
Cathedrals and Churches — CHECK!
Next DESTINATION on my list — Naples
One of the first places I experienced trekking was in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco at the age of just 18. It was a tough experience as I’m honestly not a big trekker, but it really opened my eyes to the culture of Moroccan towns and cities. I returned many years later to explore Marrakech and Ouarzazate — sans trekking and plus mommy — and loved the vibe! It’s definitely one of my favourite countries in the world to visit.
Morocco is certainly not the easiest country for solo travel, but I don’t find it unsafe. It’s just that you need to be aware of the extensive tout situation, particularly in souks and trains stations.
Morocco Travel Tip — Don’t listen to boys and men on the streets of cities such as Marrakech and Fez who claim to offer free advice or free tours — there will be a fee and will probably be an overpriced con, even to have them show you the way back to your hotel!
Moroccan architecture is stunning — I love the Arabic arches and geometric tiled walls that you find in the Mosques, tombs and palaces. Hands down the best place to start exploring Morocco is Marrakech. There are so many great things to do in Marrakech including Jama-el-Fnaa (main square), Katoubia Mosque and the Old Quranic school — Ben Yousef Madrasa.
Moroccan hospitality is so warming and you will be offered sweet mint tea everywhere you go! The souks can certainly be an adventure. With spices, jewellery and handicrafts, son’t expect to come out as quickly as you expect to and remember to have a good barter — it’s all part of the culture.
Reasons to LOVE Morocco…
Next DESTINATION on my list — Chefchaouen
What can I say about Spain? If I could pack up and move there tomorrow, I totally would! I LOVED Barcelona completely, with the Gaudi Architecture and Mercado de La Boqueria!
Spain has a climate that is perfect for visiting all year round for me — basically usually around 5–10 degrees hotter than England! The North is a bit chillier of course, but as a general rule I’m always comfortable, healthy and full of vitamin D when I’m in Spain — I feel that it’s a combination of the weather and mediterranean diet.
Spain is abundant with fortresses, cathedrals and architecture. It’s also full of amazing beaches to relax on. There is still so much more of Spain left for me to explore — Sevilla, Madrid, Cadiz. So far, Tenerife is my favourite Spanish Holiday Island, but again there are so many more! It’s a massive country and so of course I will need several trips for me to fully explore.
A NOTE ON BULL FIGHTING…. On ethical grounds, I now give all bull fights a miss — after being scarred for life by watching one in my 20s to ‘absorb Spanish culture’. It’s quite a horrific ‘sport’ that I would like to see banned.
Fortresses — CHECK!
Cathedrals — CHECK!
Islands and Beaches — CHECK!
My next Spanish DESTINATION — Seville
I never knew quite how much I would love Bulgaria — and certainly never expected it to become one of my favourite counties. So it was a shock when I fell in love with Sofia so much that I felt at home there. Sofia is the kind of place I’d happily live if I was moving abroad! It’s a well set up digital nomad city with cafes, bars and hostels.
And the cost of living is CHEAP! Read my blog on How cheap is Sofia?
Why do I love Bulgaria so much? For me, it’s all about the Orthodox Churches and Bulgarian Monasteries. Many of the monasteries in Bulgaria date back as early as the 11th Century. My favourite is Rila Monastery — tucked up in the mountains about an hour outside of Sofia, this is surely one of Bulgaria’s most popular place to visit.
But Bulgaria is also great for beach lovers (in the summertime!), party goers and trekkers.
One thing to mention about Bulgaria — the currency used is Bulgarian LEV so don’t rock up with your Euros!
Oh and one more thing that I LOVE about Bulgaria — 30p Hot Chocolate!!!
Reasons to love Bulgaria…
- Mountains and Beaches
- 30p hot chocolate!
The next Bulgarian DESTINATION on my list — Veliko Tarnavo
India is one of those cliche places — love it and hate it, get Delhi Belly, find yourself! But let me tell you this, India is one of the most surprising, exciting and diverse country that I have been to.
Most people do the route that I did on my visit to India — the Golden Triangle — Delhi > Agra > Jaipur. There are some amazing sites in Delhi, but of course the traffic, dust, pollution and con artists are difficult to deal with, and so its a good idea to do a whistle stop tour of the main sites in Delhi and head to some of the more relaxed destinations such as Pushkar, Shimla and Hampi.
I could honestly tell you India stories all day — the time a rather large woman sat on my lap for a 3 hour bus journey, the time a guy lost a chicken off the back of his tuk-tuk, the time a guy git his shop out of his briefcase in a cafe in Agra….the list is endless.
India will push you to your limits travel wise, but you will return with some of the whackiest and most bizarre experiences yet.
India Travel Tip — Watch out for the ‘Free’ Tuk-Tuk scam — you will NEVER get to where you want to go!
India is a MASSIVE country and I think I could honestly spend a year there and still not be done exploring!
Reasons to love India…
- Religious Diversity
- Temples and Fortresses
- Laid back spiritual towns
Next Indian DESTINATION — Varanasi
Poland is so full of history and beautiful architecture, much of which survived bombing during the 2nd World War. There’s really nothing like shopping in the old town of Krakow and following it up with some Vodka shots with locals and tourists combined!
With Poland now so accessible by plane from the UK, it’s one of my favourite countries for weekend breaks.
Auschwitz is one of Polands Dark Tourism Destinations, and although it is not an enjoyable trip, I would recommend it to get a full run down of the Jewish history of Poland. There is a whole host of destinations throughout Poland for historic tourism. I would say get Auschwitz out of the way first, so that you not only have a historic introduction, but also so that you don’t worry about it for the rest of your time in Poland.
Poland Travel Tip — Uber works in Poland and is relatively cheap for getting to and from the Airports!
Now, once you are in Poland, there are so many fantastic Polish cities to explore and most of the main cities in Poland have a historic Old Town. Some of the best cities in Poland include Gdansk, Lodz, Krakow and Warsaw.
Read my article about things to do in Katowice.
Why I love Poland…
- Old Town Architecture
- Churches and Cathedrals
Next DESTINATION on the Polish wish list — Gdansk.
What are your favourite countries to travel to? I’d love to hear from you!
Originally published at https://www.templeseeker.com on November 22, 2019.