If Travel Was a Menu...

Monday 1 May 2017

I loved the theme suggested by Binny a few weeks ago for this month’s travel link-up so much that I started planning my post right away (this is unusual for me, as I am so pushed for time these days that I rarely get a chance to start thinking about it prior to the night before the post is due to go live). However, this one gave me a lot of food for thought (‘scuse the pun!). If travel was a menu, what place is your starter (short haul), main (long haul) and dessert (lasting impression)?

The answer, for me, was easy. There are three places I have visited that I believe are able to satisfy even the most insatiable wanderlust.

My starter (short haul)

From Qatar, the cities of the UAE are only a short 40-50 minute flight away, opening up a plethora of travel opportunities which are practically on my doorstep.

I have spoken before about the magnetic draw of Dubai. It’s a crazy 24-hour city, viewed by many as brash and vulgar, but if you resolve not to take it too seriously, it also offers its visitors a lot, without them having to dig too deep or to use too much imagination. Unlike most tourists heading to Dubai, the main draw for my desert-dwelling family is not the year-round sunshine, and we are no longer able to take full advantage of the nightlife on offer. Dubai, for us, is more about expanding our opportunities for entertainment, shopping, relaxation and most importantly, eating.

The UAE destination that I feel more passionate about is Abu Dhabi. With a few glimpses of the heady, cosmopolitan vibe of Dubai down the road, Abu Dhabi is, on the whole, a quieter, less congested, less polluted and far more laid back and family-friendly city. I was delighted to spot cycle lanes along the main routes through the city; the first time I have seen them in the Middle East. I was even more delighted to find that the Emirati culture of the UAE capital lives on, despite the influx of foreign labour from all over the world.

Top hotel choices: Anantara The Palm Jumeirah, Raffles Dubai, Emirates Palace

Look out for an upcoming post on: the Palace Hotel, Downtown Dubai

My main (long haul)

We decided to go slightly further afield for our latest travels, and headed to Norway to visit family in Oslo and spend some time in the Western fjords. Despite the cost of the trip (Norway is not a cheap country to visit!) it was a decision I will never regret, as it was the start of what I think might develop into a lifetime love affair with one of the most beautiful countries in the world.

6.5 hours away from our desert home, we found ourselves breathing in crisp air, immersed in nature, and surrounded by mountains. It was good for the soul.

We fell in love with Oslo and its Scandi sophistication. But that was nothing compared to how we felt when we drove out of Alesund airport in the west, and were confronted by historic settlements and the wild and dramatic glacial landscape of the western fjords.

Top hotel choices: Continental Hotel Oslo, Storfjord Hotel

Look out for upcoming blog posts on: Storfjord Hotel; 10 things you must do in the Western Fjords.

My dessert (lasting impression)

I remember rounding a bend in the road as the stunning Positano came into view in the middle of our honeymoon travels across Italy, and Mr Sunshine saying, "I already know that I'm going to love this place". That's just the feeling that the Amalfi Coast gives you as soon as you catch a glimpse of it for the first time. It's a beguiling combination of breathtaking beauty and theatrical romance: steep cliffs which plunge into the sea; small, pastel-coloured settlements that cling to hillsides; cobbled walkways which take you back in time.

Of course, it helps that the region is well-known for its world class hotels and restaurants, with the kind of service and ambience which makes you feel instantly at home and at ease. It helps that there is so much to see and do in towns like bustling Positano, and that villages like Praiano have so many hidden gems.

It's a place that lives on in your memory for a long time after you have left.

Not only was it our honeymoon destination, but it was also where I first started to realise that I might be pregnant with Baby Sunshine - and nothing leaves more of a lasting impression than that.

Top hotel choices: Monastero Santa Rosa, Casa Angelina, Le Sireunuse, Belmond Caruso

Look out for upcoming blog posts:  Le Sirenuse, Belmond Caruso, what to do with two days in Ravello, 10 reasons to visit Capri


  1. What a lovely travel menu, Polly. Dubai has very special place in my heart, as I visited many times with my grandfather on his business trips, and then J and I got engaged there. The city truly has a lot to offer. xx

  2. Omg what I love about the travel blogger community is we always have something to help each other with and your content about the Amalfi coast is going to help me one day! I loved reading this what special memories! <3

  3. Love your travel menu 😍😍😍 I'll have to think long and hard about my menu 🙈🙈🙈 I haven't travelled as much as you have but UAE and South Africa would be on that menu 😍😍😍

  4. Canapes - Oman & the UAE... they're great bite size places to visit with so many different things to do, I keep going back for more.

    Entree - Seychelles... it whet's your appetite for the rest of the meal/world.

    Main Course - is a choice between three offerings... Vienna or Stockholm or South Africa. Having been to Vienna & Stockholm, I love both cities for various different reasons depending on my mood (much like how I choose my meals) and South Africa snuck in here as I've never been and it's on my travel list for 2018.

    Dessert - Santorini... coz everything about this places is gorgeous and leaves you wanting more!

  5. Wow! Love these choices. Now I've visited Dubai, I think Abu Dhabi is going to be next on my list. I can see why you fell in love with Italy, I have a feeling it will appear on a lot of people's lists.

  6. It's so curious that your short haul trip, The Middle East, is a distant and exotic place to me; while your long haul European destinations are my city breaks! But we can both agree that Italian dessert is the best dessert of all. ��

    15 Cities, 6 Countries, 20 Days: The Ultimate Itinerary for a Austria, Balkans, & Italy road trip - Posh, Broke, & Bored

  7. What lovely choices! Positano is very much on our radar.

  8. These are three place I am still yet to explore! I got engaged in Rome so Italy holds a special place in my heart, I've not ventured any further south. I'd love to spend a summer exploring the country and eating my way around!

  9. Norway looks beautiful, and Positano is certainly memorable. So many people have told me they love the Amalfi coast. I hope I can get there one day.

  10. Your bikini in Positano is so cute!! And all your photos are really just gorgeous. I'm getting inspired to write my own menu!

  11. I loved following your Oslo trip, Polly! In fact, I suggested it to a friend a week later after seeing your photos on Instagram!

  12. I love how Italy is cropping up time and time again!! Norway also looks fab!
    Em x

  13. Ugh all of your Italian honeymoon photos are so beautiful, no matter how many times I see them xx

  14. I think your photos just convinced me to go to Olso and Italy!!!

  15. Love this! I was looking at your images from Italy and I was like it's be perfect for a honeymoon, and there you mentioned it! It looks paradisiac! And I still haven't been to Norway, even though we live in a neighbouring country. Hopefully we don't put it off too long because it looks majestic!

  16. Ooooo can I do this one!! All three places yet to be explored. And Italy for dessert is a perfect choice, one of my favourite countries I'd always have room for more.

  17. We really enjoyed our Baltic adventure too - excellent to visit less obvious places as they are truly enjoyable!

  18. So exotic to me. I love it! Funny how very different everyone's short haul trips are depending on where you're starting from.

  19. I can not, can not wait to see your neck of the woods!

  20. Great menu! I'd love to try your starter and dessert, and I already know how much I love Norway. Like you I was blown away by the majesty of the fjords - such stunning landscapes!