Sunday, February 14, 2016

Adventures: Doing Travel Our Way

Everywhere I look all of a sudden, Vietnam seems to be the destination of choice for those hunting a holiday destination that offers a little slice of paradise. It was recommended to me in January of 2015, but we were in the middle of one of the most difficult house moves we've ever done and a long haul holiday just wasn't on the cards. As the year moved on though, thoughts started wandering to 2016. Both Tom & I have to think on when we might like to take our holidays to make sure we can fit work around it properly, and so we decided it was time we saw more of the world, so off we go.

Whilst we're both lucky to have enjoyed some brilliant European and British holidays, for both of us, visiting Paris in February last year was the start of a bit of a niggle- that we wanted to see more. I've always been put off holidays to far flung corners of the world because I didn't want to come back from weeks of 'doing all the things' feeling like I needed a holiday to recover- we work hard and for us, holidays are our downtime when we get to spend time laying around in the sun and eating snack with a glass of wine at 2 in the afternoon if we damn well want to. What Paris taught us, is that you can see things and do things without it being a chore and that's all down to being selective about what you think you'll enjoy.

Tonight, we mostly ate a LOT of cheese.

We went to Paris and we didn't go to the Louvre. Nor the palace of Versailles. We didn't visit Notre Dame and I wasn't especially interested in Michelin level dining. We did however have the most fabulous long weekend in which we discovered cobbled streets with restaurants lining them that serve only cheese, caught some stunning views of Sacré-Cœur through gaps in buildings and met a fascinating Algerian born man who happened to own the restaurant we were eating (the very best tagine of my life) in and who had fond memories of the area of London in which my Aunt & Uncle live. We came home having had a great time, seen new things, and not felt pressured, tired or grouchy because we'd tried to do too much or too many of the things we weren't interested in (however important a monument they may be).

Paris has been fun.

So, we're flying out to Vietnam on Good Friday for almost 3 weeks and I have been counting the weeks since before Christmas. We're spending some time in Hanoi as that's where we're flying into the country and then it's off to Hoi An- famous for beautiful beaches, resorts and tailoring. Will we be visiting every temple, bridge and monument? Probably not. But since we're doing an 11 hour flight to a brand new continent and country, I'm excited to learn new things and soak up a culture that's so different to anything I've experienced before.

I'm sure there will be many who would consider our trip wasteful because I know we'll spend at least a week snoozing by the (slice of paradise resort) swimming pool or marvelling white sand. Some who don't consider hotel stays and internal flights to be as valid a travel experiences as hostels and day long coach or bus trips between cities. To those people we say- enjoy your trip with sincerity. We only live once and if those experiences bring you joy, then you made the right choice. We're doing our trip our way, and I am confident we'll land back at Heathrow in April massively jetlagged but unable to stop telling people how wonderful our holiday was for all the things we chose to enjoy.

We're also happy to hear recommendations- have you been, what was your favourite street-food must try? Did you visit a market that wasn't in the guidebook and discover something incredible? Did you go on a tour or a cooking class or find a tailor that we we shouldn't miss? 

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