Whatever motivates you to hop on a plane, there is always a destination begging to be explored and snapped up in photos.
Photos of our holidays provide us with a window on the world and a cherished memory bank of our encounters. Looking at a photo from your travels can transport you back to that time and place. The scene comes alive in your senses.
Perhaps you can taste the flavours of a meal you ate at the street-side restaurant serving the best Phad Thai. Or you can hear bells peeling out from a church in an old town square in Tuscany. Maybe you remember the feel of the sun beaming onto your face as you soaked up its rays on a beach.
Here are seven photos that remind me of some of my most memorable travel experiences, and which will also take you all around the world with me.
A landscape a million years in the making: Victoria, Australia
Let’s start as far away as possible - 10,500 miles down under to Victoria, Australia, with a helicopter flight over the Twelve Apostles. These limestone stacks along the shoreline reveal the magic and mayhem nature can create.
Around three hour’s drive from Melbourne, along the impressive Great Ocean Road coastal route is what is considered the region’s jewel. The Twelve Apostles is a bit of a misnomer as there are only eight stacks now.
But when you are able to fly over these rocky outcrops and witness nature’s wild beauty up close, you soon stop counting. The stacks were created by 10-20 million years of wind and Southern Ocean erosion. Cliffs hollowed into caves, which became arches, before they collapsed leaving stacks up to 45-metres high, standing like sentries in the sea.
It’s a place of vivid beauty - the sea spray mingling with puffs of cloud, sunlight shifting and turning the stacks golden by sunset, to create something almost mystical.
A resting red: Chiang Mai, Thailand
In busy cities it can be hard to find places of solace. But wherever you go in Thailand - from villages to a sprawling metropolis - its temples are a place to pause and reflect, letting the modern world evaporate.
The old northern city of Chiang Mai is home to more than 300 temples - a surprising number, but it’s even more eye opening when you explore their exquisite interiors.
Pictured is the boldly colourful Wat Phra Singh, one of the city’s most revered temples. Built in a classical Thai architectural style in 1345, it has been extensively renovated but remains a magnificent complex with golden stupas and bright red interiors where prayers are whispered.
Adjacent to Wat Phra Singh is a school for monks and I was enthralled as the school day ended to be surrounded by a throng of shaven-headed young monks in saffron robes.
Seal of approval: Galápagos, South America
The Galápagos Islands - the name alone conjures up visions of a remote, exotic, and almost mythical destination. But they are very much a real and thriving place.
Spun off in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, west of Ecuador, the Galápagos Islands’ remote location has made them a home to wonderful wildlife, and a must-see destination for nature lovers and intrepid travellers alike.
The islands’ most famous visitor, naturalist Charles Darwin, was awed by his findings there which fed into his famed works on the history and philosophy of mankind.
This volcanic chain is home to some of the most precious flora and fauna in the world, including fur seals that huddle on Española Island.
Given that only a small number of people go to the islands by boat each year, the seals were very relaxed around us human visitors. So much so that I had to step over them as they lay languidly on the beach, only raising a flipper to bat away the occasional fly.
Spinning around: Bedouin Camp, Dubai
Luminous green and pink hues floated through the hot night as a voluminous skirt swirled and twirled in the darkness.
Removing the top layer, the subject of our attention revealed another skirt, equally as vibrant, that hovered high above the knees.
As the dancer stopped, pausing to revel in applause, I caught a darting mischief in his deep brown eyes, searching the crowd for visitors to enter his vibrant arena.
Not only did he wear the skirt well, but we couldn’t take our eyes off the whirling dervish’s muscular form as he spun like a top with such velocity his feet barely seemed to touch the ground. Then, as we were plunged into darkness, the giant skirt lit up like a funfair ride, cutting illuminated shapes through the air.
The dance was the final act in our Dubai desert safari that had seen us bashing across dunes earlier in the day.
The smiling coast of Africa: Banjul, The Gambia
I can easily forgo lovely accommodation, exciting activities and spectacular sights as it’s the people who make a place for me.
If you take time to meet them, and stop to watch as people go by, you’ll find they tell the story of the country you’re visiting - their lives and experiences unfolding in every line on their face, each flash of their eyes.
Nowhere have I felt this more keenly than during my time in The Gambia. I found myself fascinated by the local people, wanting to know more about them, their likes and loves.
I took some of my favourite portraits in Serrakunda market, including this sleeping beauty with a Mona Lisa smile, and his delightful mother.
Hot time in a cold place: Lake Päijänne, Lahti, Finland
Don’t be fooled by this pretty landscape - there are adventures to be had here. In an icy January, when the branches of the trees hung low and heavy with the brilliant white of winter, I visited Lake Päijänne in Finland’s Lahti region.
First, I took to the frozen lake on a snowmobile as the light of a short winter’s day quickly dipped below the horizon. The roar of the engines was exciting as I joined a group gliding over snow and ice, past island forests, and through frozen fields - the wild landscape became our playground. As the temperature plummeted to -27 degrees C, condensation from my own breath clung to my eyelashes in mini icicles.
So it was good to warm up in a traditional smoke sauna. But I knew a challenge awaited. Leaving the sweat-inducing heat, snow and ice crunched underfoot as we ventured along a jetty to the lake in our swimwear.
Summoning up every last vestige of courage, I stepped through a hole in the icy lake - like a porthole into freezing dark water. Within seconds I was scrambling out, screaming as the shock and piercing bite of the incomprehensible cold hit. My Finnish hosts took their frozen dip in a much calmer fashion, chuckling at me as they did so. An ice bath is not an obligatory part of a Finnish sauna, but it is something I’m pleased I’ve done. The Finns are right; it leaves you warm from the inside out.
Celebrating the sunset in Florida Keys, US
Sunset is a specialty in the Florida Keys where life seems to be lived barefoot on the beach by many. This was the first sunset to greet me, at a lovely beachside restaurant, Marker 88.
Then I heard about Mallory Square Sunset Celebration in Key West and I thought I’d arrived just in time for a special annual event. But it seems the people of the Conch Republic, as the Florida Keys are known, love a good sunset and sun-kissed Key West enjoys this colourful festival every evening.
The orange-pink painted sky that hangs over the Atlantic Ocean is a perfect backdrop to the vibrant action on land where there’s an array of street performers, jugglers, musicians and more.
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