Travel for me is more than just ticking off a list of prescribed sites and activities. Don’t get me wrong. I absolutely want to see all the things I’m supposed to see in a destination. Yet, the things that stick the most are those little, surprising moments. Moments that you can’t plan for or that are simply unexpected.
Taking time to enjoy your surrounds
I like to stop and enjoy the view, both big and little when I travel. Again, it’s in these moments that I feel my heart swell and I can fall in love with a place. Combine waterfalls, forests and snow-capped mountain peaks, like what you’ll see in the Swiss Alps, who wouldn’t be swayed?
The sublime view in Lauterbrunnen
Finding local places
Often these moments involve stumbling across a local restaurant or following the advice of your guide or hotel concierge. Some of my most memorable meals have been the result of this – from dinner of escargot, duck magret and vin rouge to wash it down, to grilled saba in a food court in Singapore with a $2 beer in hand.
Decisions, decisions at this restaurant in Paris' Latin Quarter
Dining experiences aside, I also get a full heart (and belly) from visits to local markets and shops.
One of my greatest joys while travelling was to discover the local markets in Savoyard, Annecy. It was exhilarating to be among the locals and to sample the fresh produce available for sale.
'Delicieuse' fig nougat at the local markets
For those who prefer a non-alcoholic beverage you can’t go past a spot of tea or a shot of coffee.
Often the act of making the drink is a treat in itself.
Kerak tea making was fun and interactive in Cairo.
We could select the spices to be brewed with our tea and then had a choice of honey to sweeten.
Kerak tea making in Cairo, Egypt by Pamela Frisari
Looking for something a little stronger? Sampling a nation’s tipple never goes astray in my book. It usually provides a good opportunity to connect with the locals and sit back to enjoy some serious people watching.
Can’t go past a campari and bellini when in Italy
There are moments that you could let impact you negatively. Is being caught in the rain umbrella-less in Paris a source of tears?
Paris rain clouds
Not really, it’s only water and you are wandering through PARIS in the rain.No one cares about this ominous rain cloud lurking. This was a magical moment for me.
Moments of personal significance
It could be a moment that is personally significant – like watching the hot air balloons rise with the sun over the Valley of the Kings, Egypt.
Balloons rising over the Valley of the Kings
The entrance to the tomb of Tutankhamun
When we later visited the tombs in the Valley, I had a serious moment of nostalgia – back to childhood memories watching any adventure film with the slightest connection to Egypt – Indiana Jones, Death on the Nile, even Stargate.
Standing in the Tomb of King Tutankhamun, it was more than the films themselves I thought of. I thought of who I had watched them with, my late sister in particular.
The complicated tangle of emotions – nostalgia, grief, awe and an overwhelming feeling of wholeness and connection – were only natural. I was happy too, that I could still share this moment with her.
What makes a destination special for one person can be very different for the next. A Bunnik tour includes all those things you expect to see when you travel. It also includes time to yourself. Time for you to go and connect with your surroundings in a way that is meaningful to you. Time that allows you to reflect on, explore and wonder at this amazing world.
All other photos by Catherine Kelly