A Road Trip through Ontario and New York State
By Millie Beere
Part of my gap year included a road trip around Ontario and New York State. I had no idea what to expect, but what I experienced was truly amazing and I would love to re-visit!
For anyone wishing to make this trip, I would definitely recommend taking in the stunning beauty of Niagara Falls. Make sure you don’t miss a stop at the historic Niagara-on-the-Lake. A quaint town, filled with 19th-century buildings, horse-drawn carriages and charming shops. Venturing further south into New York State, our next stop was the little-known Letchworth State Park and as our journey became more remote, we felt as though we were truly in the wilderness. This is probably one of the most dramatic and beautiful places I have ever visited. We stopped to take in the vast canyon views and to picnic next to tumbling waterfalls. Given the time of year, there were hardly any other tourists which made the experience even more amazing.
Finally, camping in the Algonquin Provincial Park was the highlight of my Canadian experience. We stayed at the Four Corners glamping site- which came with strict warnings about keeping all food in your car and well away from predatory bears… which was terrifying but definitely added to the fun! There is so much to do here- long hikes, lake swimming, boating and Meese (more than one moose) hunting!
On any trip experiencing local cuisine is essential. Canadian Poutine, French fries covered in melted cheese and gravy, is served everywhere and is delicious! I thoroughly recommend travelling to Ontario for people on all budgets, with the flight time being approximately 7.5 hours from the UK. Early September is a great time to go as the temperature is perfect and the bulk of the tourists have gone home!
The Ultimate Holiday ~ Thailand, Malaysia and Bali
By Eve Rowlands
Even with lock down eased and overseas hols possible, many exotic places have to be lived through memories of past trips.
My 2018 eat-pray-love Asia-Indonesia trip (partner in tow) was the best ‘holiday’ and the most relaxed and alive I’ve ever felt.
First up was Thailand, with 2 nights in Bangkok – going everywhere by Tuk Tuk, visiting tremendous temples, becoming great hagglers on the famous Koh San Road and eating delicious Pad Thai. Next was Koh Phangan and its prestigious Full Moon Party: colour, cocktails and travellers galore. It was a blast… (and bump… I sprained my ankle, ending on crutches after a battle with a flaming skipping rope).
If that’s what you’re into, go nuts or head to its calmer neighbour, Koh Samui. Hire a car, explore its stunning views, natural pools, and exotic street food. My fondest memory, a boat trip to Ang Thong National Park, hiking through monkey-filled greenery to a 400m high, 360 view. Breath-taking.
Kuala Lumpur and Singapore followed; concrete jungles of all shapes and colours. Favourite stops, the Petronas Towers (KL) and Gardens by the Bay (Singapore). By day, architecturally brilliant buildings and by night, beautiful skylines and water light shows.
And finally… stunningly luscious Bali.
Try to explore every beautiful crevice. We first went to Ubud, the capital, a place you must see – take time, don’t cram like we did in 7 days. Teeming with scooters, yogi pants and monkeys, its concrete pavements contrast with the rippling rice paddies, temples and cascading waterfalls.
Everything is walkable and the main street overrun with treats, Balinese massages and cafes serving Nasi Goreng (traditional Balinese food is heaven).
I would recommend cookery classes teaching traditional recipes with its unfamiliar delicacies and simple ingredients.
From Ubud, we went via ‘Go – Jek’ (the Balinese Uber) South to Canggu. We rode scooters, slept in a bamboo shack and filled our bellies with wholefoods; the rainbow concoctions I discovered made my tum very happy. White and black sands with crystal clear waves – a surfer’s idyll! Though a pricier and westernised part of Bali, it’s a bliss not to be missed.
Time made us miss the sunrise on Mount Batur, visiting Uluwatu, the Gili Isles, Ulun Danu Temple, Tanah Lot temple, a traditional Kecak Dance, wreck diving and more. It just means I have no choice but to go back!
The Island of the Gods is a bucket list destination providing you with never-ending culture and colour. To avoid the monsoon, it is best to go between November and February.
The Ultimate Holiday ~ My Morocco Experience
By Akhi Uddin
Current lockdown restrictions have me reminiscing quite fondly nowadays, remembering simpler times, where I’d never assumed to be in such a position we are in today. This time two years ago, I was eagerly preparing my holiday list, for my venture to Morocco! In celebration of overcoming a tumultuous year, my family and I decided to head to Marrakesh, Morocco where the sights were truly unlike any other.
We found that the best time to visit was actually during the September to early November period, where the weather was extraordinary, with a tolerable level of heat that would have been more difficult to cope with during summer. My favourite destinations in Marrakesh include the Jemaa-el-Fnaa Market Square (which being close to our hotel was frequented to quite regularly throughout the trip!), the YSL Gardens, Jardin Marjorelle and the breathtakingly gorgeous sight of 19th century palace; Palais Bahia. Not to forget the striking Koutoubia Mosque and the Berber villages, located near the Atlas Mountains.
It’s exceedingly difficult to define this destination with one adjective, largely because it’s so diverse. Each trip to a different part of Morocco had its own alluring features. Each building encompasses intricacy, from its architecture, to the deeply personal story behind its configuration. The complex and certainly bright blue features of the Jardin Marjorelle were mesmerising, an unforgettable favourite of mine! It contains a beautiful café, with Moroccan delicacies freshly available, (some amazing tagines, need I say more?) and a museum, which delights all visitors with history lessons of Marrakesh in the most aesthetically pleasing way! We also had the opportunity to visit Berber residents, whom welcomed us gladly into their homes, allowing us all to begin learning more about each other and one another’s culture.
With visits to such exceptional historical landmarks I would love to visit over and over again, this will forever be one of my most memorable holidays!
The Ultimate Holiday ~ Yokohama, Japan
By Omo Ifabua
Travel agencies always promise the “Holiday of a lifetime” and Japan 2016 is definitely one I’ll never forget. After the gruelling 12-hour flight from Heathrow, which consisted of multiple bathroom visits, two surprisingly delicious airplane meals and a half-finished movie, my family and I arrived in Yokohama Japan. Yokohama is the second largest city in Japan and is the perfect holiday destination for anyone looking to mix fun, relaxation and sightseeing during their stay.
We stayed in the Yokohama Bay Hotel, which had an outstanding view of the city’s record-breaking landmarks. One of them was the Yokohama Landmark Tower, which is the second tallest building in Japan. Standing at 972 ft high, the phenomenal structure has 73 floors, a 5-star hotel, restaurants, and shops, but the most fascinating part for me had to be the 69th floor. Once we arrived on floor 69 (using the elevator of course) we were met with the Sky Garden observatory where we could see a 360-degree view of the entire city. Being up that high was pretty nerve wracking for me, but the stunning views distracted me from my fear, for a few moments at least.
My favourite part of the trip was visiting Cosmoworld – the theme park directly opposite our hotel! We visited the park twice, once during the day and another time during the night – that’s when things got magical. Cosmoworld’s famous Ferris Wheel – Cosmo Clock 21 – used to be the largest Ferris wheel in world at 369 ft tall (but is now the tallest Ferris Wheel with a clock, I believe). Again, we were met with spectacular views of Yokohama once we reached the height of the ride, but this time the city was illuminated with nightlights and this remains one of the most spectacular views I have ever seen.
Of course there are many more incredible things I wish I could share about my trip, from the spiralised potato chips at KFC – which were surprisingly healthy, to the self-heating, music-playing toilet seats, which was perhaps my favourite thing about our hotel. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to visit Japan again soon, maybe intime for the 2021 Olympics (if Covid-19 permits) and create some even more remarkable memories.